There is a stereotype, often found in Asian or ethnic communities, that cooking is a skill left for married women. I’m here to convince you that’s not the case. Here are my 11 compelling reasons why all you single ladies should learn how to cook now. A lot of the reasons can also be applied to other people, but specifically for those of you who are single and unskilled in the kitchen, I hope I am able to change your mind with this post!
1. Save yourself the stress
Don’t be that girl. You probably know the one I’m talking about. The girl who loved eating the delicious food made by her parents however she doesn’t know how to cook any of the dishes she eats on a regular basis. So she lives a pretty laid back life, until suddenly she gets married and moves out and cooking becomes a priority.
Maybe you’ve invited your in laws over for dinner for the first time and have assured them a lavish meal. But it’s your first time making classic and traditional dishes by yourself so you’re constantly having to ring your mum to ask how much oil/onion/spice/salt to add. And your mum’s not much help anyways because she never even uses measurements and relies on eyeballing it or the infamous antaaz. Maybe you end up serving slightly soggy rice or burnt chappatis to an especially snarky auntie who you know is silently judging you.
Save yourself the hassle and try and learn how to cook a couple of staple dishes independently that are good enough to serve to company. Most of us know we’re going to be in the situation at some point, so why not make it easier for yourself when you’re going to have a ton of other things to worry about.
2. So you can fend for yourself
Being able to cook and fend for yourself is just a basic life skill. It really doesn’t matter your age or gender, I really think all fully grown females and males should be able to feed themselves. And no, cereal and toast does not count. And if you are an adult who happens to live at home and still rely on your mother to cook you home cooked meals every day, then really, it’s a little embarrassing. Step up your game. Imagine if your mum goes away for a while, or heaven forbid, the entire takeaway industry crumbles into destruction. What will you do? How would you survive?
3. It’s part of growing up
Related to the previous point, being able to whip up a nice home cooked meal from scratch is an important milestone in maturing and become a grown up. It’s up there with being able to do your own washing, learning to drive or getting a job and paying your own bills. When you’re able to do these kinds of things, you’re no longer the kid relying on your parents for everything, but someone who is able to stand on their own two feet.
4. To appreciate the efforts of your family
A lot of us are very blessed to have parents who made sure we always ate 3 delicious meals every day, cooked from scratch. Some of us had mother who would spend hours planning, preparing and cooking meals just for is. And we often take it for granted that we’ll have a nice dinner waiting for us at the end of the day. It’s not until you’re in that position yourself that you realise just how much work and effort goes into making sure that everyone stays well fed. So cook for your parents every now and then to say thanks!
5. Feed other people
I really think hospitable people that host and feed guests are some of the best people. In fact as muslims, it is an important part of good etiquette and manners. Whether it’s your immediate family, your neighbours or someone who is feeling a little lonely, welcome someone to your home warmly and serve them a meal you made yourself. It doesn’t have to be some extravagant dinner party but it’s a great way to show your appreciation for someone and can be an act of kindness that goes a long way.
6. It’s a creative outlet
Playing around in the kitchen can actually be quite fun if you know what you’re doing. I know there are a lot of people who have very stressful jobs and relish the opportunity to come home and potter about in the kitchen as a way to unwind. You can experiment with different ingredients and combinations of herbs and spices. You don’t have to be some talented artist, and even better, you get to eat your final product too.
7. It’s educational
You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can learn from cooking. On the creative side, it can be with flavours and presentation, but there’s also a lot to learn in terms of history, culture, economics and health. I love learning about the diverse stories behind different dishes from biryani to halwa. The way that different countries have their own versions of a certain dish that they will rigidly affirm is theirs. Or how dishes that were traditionally for poor peasants like mujaddara are now popular across all socio-economic backgrounds. There is just so much to learn from a simple recipe.
8. To preserve your cultural heritage
Regardless of where you’re from, I think you should always know a few staple traditional dishes to preserve your past and pass on to the next generation who might not be so in touch. Whether you’re Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Scottish or American (only just heard of green bean casserole recently!). It’s the reason why I post my Bengali fish curries
here. One day your globe trotting descendants might live in a different part of the world or have their own intercultural family and it’s nice to just tell be able to share a part of your own story about where you came from and the kind of life you lived.
9. To stop wasting money
I will be honest, back in my student days, my greatest expenditure was food. I loved to eat out with friends and was always going to new restaurants in different parts of London. As you can imagine, it wasn’t cheap and the food wasn’t always that great either! I definitely would have saved a lot of money if I had just invited some friends over for a cooked meal and it’s a lot more cosier too.
10. It’s a lot healthier
When you relying on eating out or takeaways or freezer meals, then 90% of the time it’s much unhealthier. Food is more likely to be processed or have high amounts of oil and all sorts of additives that you have no control over. Going back to my uni days, the kind of places my friends used to like going to were the kinds of place that served really carb filled or oily food with all sorts of varieties of chips. Though I was going to the gym, I just could not figure out why my weight wasn’t budging(!) Even if you make your own burger and chips fresh at home, it’s definitely a lot healthier than most of the options in restaurants.
11. The options are infinite
There is just so much variety to food and cooking! Not only do you have cuisines from specific parts of the world, but these days we also see a lot of modern and fusion cuisines too. As the world and people change what and how we eat changes too. Why not start experimenting as soon as you can? Open your mind beyond the staple dishes you grew up with. Add your own twist and mark to recipes. Modernise that recipe from your mum that you always followed to the last letter. You might just find that you make an even better version.
So there you are, my 11 reasons! Have I convinced you single gals to hop into the kitchen? And for the married ladies out there, can you relate to any of the points?
If I have convinced any of you lovely ladies to start getting busy in the kitchen then you should start by making sure subscribe to my newsletter to receive my free Essential Bangladeshi Cooking E-Book which has a collection of staple South Asian recipes. My subscribers also receive other exclusive freebies and resources on a regular basis such as printables.