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"I Don't Cook"

We've all heard this before. If even some of the people who say this are being completely accurate and truthful, in other words do not cook anything at all, what and how do they eat?

What if they have a family?

Do they go out 2-3 times a day to restaurants? Or do they nuke frozen stuff all of the time? Some of these folks might even call that cooking...

Maybe they live on chips and yogurt cups? Take-out food? Have a personal chef?

Do they do things like make toast?

I can't wrap my head around it. People need food!

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  1. A former co-worker, who definitely could not afford a personal chef, nor to dine out at restaurants every night, took this to the extreme - she disconnected her stove! I never did ask her what she did instead. I imagine a lot of take-out was involved. In Manhattan, that's easy and provides a lot of variety. Still, I'd rather have my own cooking most of the time. I can't wrap my head around living without a stove.

    1. I have a cousin who "does not cook" and she raised a daughter. Of course, the daughter now does not cook and the cousin has been divorced three times. I do not see this all as being unrelated.

      What my cousin would do is go to Costco once or twice a week and load up on prepackaged meals from the Costco deli case and that is all they would eat. Cereal for breakfast, maybe a pretty simple sandwich for lunch, and Costco for dinner.

      1. I can cook, rather well. But I rarely do. Only when hosting once per quarter, I'd say.

        I live in Manhattan. In the AM I nuke oatmeal before work, or have a yogurt, or on certain mornings pick up an egg and cheese sandwich on the way to the office.

        Lunch is salad/sandwich at desk.

        Dinner, I probably eat out 3 times per week, order in once per week, and then will grill a protein and steam vegetables. Maybe throw together a salad.

        I eat well.

        P.S Friends have suggested I use the oven to store sweaters. :)

        12 Replies
        1. re: thegforceny

          Now, you're grilling and steaming - I'd call that cooking. And eating rather well, too!

          1. re: sandylc

            Grilling = throw on George Foreman
            Steaming = well, it's really boiling, in a shallow dish of water in the microwave.

            And my ice cubes are superb! (ice maker)

          2. re: thegforceny

            This is much much more common in nyc than someone who makes and brings their lunch and then also makes dinner- even if "cooking" every night is simplistic or more assembly than cooking.....

            Ps
            The oven is where you store the box of cereal that is too tall for your cupboard

            1. re: thegforceny

              I always thought the oven was for storing the pots/pans, so that I could use the cupboard for liquor. That "above the fridge" cabinet is so wrong for anything...

              1. re: thegforceny

                i have a friend who uses his oven to store shoes. he drinks gin and almost never eats. when he does? it's a few bites of a restaurant meal.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I thought NYC stoves were for books...

                  a guy in Paris I know refers to his kitchen as his "walk-in wetbar/extra closet"

                  1. re: hill food

                    and the bread box holds bank books and insurance papers

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        In NYC many people live in breadboxes...

                    1. re: hill food

                      after my parents divorced and my father got his own apartment in nyc, he turned his kitchen into a darkroom for photography. his refrigerator had nothing but rolls of film and cigarettes in it.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        That sounds like a black & white movie. Full of angst and creativity.

                2. I knew a family of four that did not cook unless you considered heating up a frozen pizza as cooking. Breakfast was cereal or toasted Eggos. Kid's lunches were cold sandwiches and chips. Dinner was take out during week and go out on weekends. My jaw dropped when I opened the freezer for some cubes and all that was in there were about 8 frozen pizzas.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: mcsheridan

                      I have a good friend who offered her freezer to store something. When I opened the fridge there was a six pack of beer, and when I opened the freezer there was one full ice cube tray. I have to smile at the memory, that was her to a T! To each their own.

                  1. My sister-in-law does not cook. They have an 8 yr old and a 10 yr old. Cold cereal breakfasts, school lunches/work cafeteria lunches, and dinners are takeout or frozen food/ready-made. A package of cooked chicken, a jar of curry sauce and a package of pre-cooked rice is a stretch for her.
                    I used to invite them over when I had extra to share, but they all turned their noses up at 'weird' food one too many times.

                    39 Replies
                    1. re: tacosandbeer

                      "... but they all turned their noses up at 'weird' food one too many times."

                      is there a law allowing us to physically assault these fucks? if one was to "turn their noses up at *their* choice of "food", one would be dismissed as 'elitist' or some shit like that.

                      Pfft... one finds many on this website too often as well... a dying breed is the Chowhound.

                      1. re: Gastronomos

                        There's a whole new topic (or old one). I hate that people who like food can be called names implying or stating snobbery, but those who eat....hm-mm...less nice food?...are exempt from criticism.

                        1. re: sandylc

                          soooo.... 'Jack' likes to eat food prepared to his liking... and is labeled a snob.

                          'Jane' likes McDonalds daily and any word about it from Jack and Jack is labeled a snob.

                          Chowhounds are a dying breed.

                          Replaced by "chowhounders".

                          Outnumbered by "foodies".

                          Does ANYONE know where I can find DELICIOUSNESS ANYWHERE????????????

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Just about the only place right about now...

                        2. re: Gastronomos

                          Ummm, did anyone else here notice that this is a place for people who like food to make a community?

                          1. re: cronker

                            oh since when? a shared interest in food yes, but community? we're like a bunch of 5 year-old 'biters' on a sugar high and we DO NOT LIKE our siblings or anything really at the moment.

                            play it like that and it's all so easy and peaceful.

                            much easier to be called by a pejorative when you're OK with claiming it. I am a dumb fuck, my only issue was the comment about elitism as I am very much in favor of the spirit behind the EEOC and related efforts

                        3. re: tacosandbeer

                          A coworker of mine grew up in a family that barely cooked. There was coffee and the mom made 1-2 dishes rotated when she "had" to cook. They raised 4 daughters by going out for all meals. Unfortunately they are all picky and overweight from lack of balanced meals.
                          My coworkers only vegetable I have ever seen her eat is iceburg or sometimes romaine lettuce, she will pick everything else out.
                          She eats out every meal even at work she will go to the deli and pay $6 for turkey and cheese on white bread daily.
                          I have often offered to just show her how to keep sandwich stuff in the fridge at the office since she is assembling bread, cheese and meat daily but she has no desire.
                          Absolutely mind boggling. I have invited her over for dinner but after the first time she has never took me up on it again. I made penne and red sauce as I knew she liked simple, apparently there were too many "green things" in it for her.

                          1. re: pie22

                            I have a friend like this whom I've written about before. Interestingly, he grew up in a large Southern family and they eat their veggies no prob. For whatever reason, he just despises them. The only "vegetable" he'll eat is a tomato, and it either has to be in a marinara type sauce (no green things!) or raw but sprinkled with tons of salt and served atop a cheeseburger. But most of the time, it's cold cuts on white bread, hot dogs, burgers, plain pizza, fast food, etc.

                            I recently hosted his bday party and purposely put out a ton of veggie side dishes to see if he'd cave under peer pressure. He had pork chops and tons of roasted fingerling potatoes, with some gorgeous organic berries and cake for dessert. After the party, he sheepishly asked for the leftover taters and some fruit, which I happily handed over. Probably the healthiest things he's eaten in ages.

                            1. re: nothingswrong

                              oddly enough, my friend is from the south as well

                              1. re: pie22

                                years ago I made a friend from out of state. we worked together and found solace in each other as our careers were complicated. we did things together as girlfriends, she never married, me > married all my life, but fun we did have. the beach was visited a lot by us and often we'd return to her house, where we'd chat a while and I'd get in my car and head home.
                                she is from the deep south, been there all her life.
                                one of those days she said to me, 'get us the bottle of wine out of the frig' and I did but when I opened the frig up for the first time ever of this immaculate lady with this pristine adorable highly valued house, I was shocked at what I saw. no food, a bottle of wine, mustard and mayo, a container of oj, nothing in the freezer but ice cube tray. I said, "uh, do you eat?" I was shocked that this gal I'd known for a good while didn't buy groceries.
                                yes she lived alone, but how'd she fill her stomach? out to every meal cause she as shootin there was no food there.
                                makes no sense to me. even when I lived alone for a very long time, my frig/freezer/pantry were always stocked because I had to eat and loved to fix whatever I wanted on any given day for my treasured meal.
                                yep, to each his/her own

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  "...even when I lived alone for a very long time, my frig/freezer/pantry were always stocked because I had to eat and loved to fix whatever I wanted on any given day for my treasured meal."

                                  My sentiments exactly. I live alone but my fridge and cupboards are always fully stocked because it reassures me to know that I can always pull together a decent meal for myself.

                                  1. re: medrite

                                    I think this is another example of living to eat as opposed to eating to live.

                                    1. re: John E.

                                      Living to eat? How about knowing how to take care of yourself and make a loving home for yourself?

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        You're aware this is a food board, right?

                                      2. re: medrite

                                        exactly..........my friends and I from work were all mostly in the same situation. they knew where I lived and we all sort of got together as much as we could for support and purpose of eating and sharing a meal. they were often at my house because they knew I cooked as I did it for work a lot, and knew my favorite stores to frequent were food stores. I loved knowing that at any time, Jimmie and Suzanne would call and ask what I was doing for dinner. nice being able to say, "nothing, you?" and I'd say come over here for dinner. nothing needed to buy which may be odd but always had enough needed to make a nice meal. and I live to eat, I don't eat to live.

                              2. re: tacosandbeer

                                I have relatives like that, and they have a country club to-die-for kitchen. Go figure. I have to say that they are the best hosts ever, and I love them to death, but they are in the construction/interior design business, and their house is built to be attractive to the next buyers, because that's the business they're in. That makes it a little bit soulless to me, but I do love their house, especially the kitchen. Except for the damn cabinet-depth refrigerators, which suck big time. I hate those fridges. But the dual dishwashers and the icemaker? Woohoo.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  I've always wanted a cabinet depth fridge. Why do you hate them?

                                  1. re: thymetobake

                                    Because they don't HOLD anything of depth, like a big turkey or a bunch of anything. I need a huge refrigerator, and cabinet depth fridges aren't a good use of refrigeration if you have a lot of stuff in your fridge normally. I'd need an addition to my house to keep all the cabinet-depth fridges I needed to store my stuff.

                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                      So 22 cubic feet of space won't accommodate anything of depth? What sort of steroid loaded turkeys do you store in your fridge?

                                      1. re: Virginian

                                        The depth is one dimension, which cannot be determined from volume. The interior depth of my refrigerator is about 16 inches.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          It just seems too shallow to me, the same way that side-by-sides don't seem to hold enough. Personal opinion. Ifnore my comment below, I was apparently in a shitty and defensive mood.

                                        2. re: Virginian

                                          I have relatives with cabinet-depth refrigerators, and they really look spectacular from the outside, but I'm amazed at how little they actually hold, is all.
                                          I rarely, if ever, store steroid-loaded turkeys in my refrigerator, and your comment is unnecessarily nasty and patronizing.

                                        3. re: EWSflash

                                          It never occurred to me to that we needed such a refrigerator.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            Which kind? cabinet depth or deeper?

                                        4. re: thymetobake

                                          I'm with you. I love my cabinet-depth refrigerator, because it's easier to see what's in it. A large turkey would be a problem, granted, but I don't have that problem.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            Cabinet depth fridges hold turkey, come on now!
                                            Side by sides, on the other hand, are useless.

                                            1. re: monavano

                                              How about a side by side cabinet depth. That's what's in my kitchen :(

                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                That's essentially what I had before- a side by side built in.
                                                I hated that thing with a passion!

                                                1. re: monavano

                                                  Kinda stuck since I'm not doing another kitchen make over in this house. Still have a std fridge in the garage along with an upright freezer

                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                    Built ins are nice- until you want to get rid of the fridge and swap it out for another!

                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                      Yup. That is how we ended up with a counter-depth fridge. When we did a total kitchen redo when we moved into the house 25 years ago, the cabinets adjacent to the fridge were built extra deep so we could install a full depth fridge, with cabinetry also above the fridge for a complete built in look. Flash forward 17 years when we had to replace the fridge, only to discover that most standard depth fridges were several inches taller than they had been when we did the kitchen reno. The only fridge that would fit the hole was a counterdepth. We considered bringing in a carpenter to remove and replace the old over-fridge cabinets so that we accommodate the taller standard depth but, since there are just 2 of us at home now, decided we could manage with the counterdepth.

                                                      I can get a 20+ pound turkey in there but it involves a lot of maneuvering of other items. And but for the fact that we have an under-counter fridge in a wet bar elsewhere, I'd have even more problems.

                                                  2. re: monavano

                                                    We have a side-by-side (rental)... the fridge part is adequate, but the freezer is so totally useless we hadn't been here a week before I told my husband we had to go buy a chest freezer to hold our actual food. The only things we keep in the upright are the ice(large icemaker), the icecream, becuase it gets too hard in the chest, and our pre-chilled drink cups. A counter-depth side-by-side would be an absolute abomination.

                                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                                      My dad is an Arizona snowbird and his freezer was not working properly. He bought a new refrigerator but when it was delivered, it would not fit. As long as the old refrigerator had been pulled out, he vacuumed the coils and it's been working fine for a couple of years. I don't know if it will help your freezer, but it can't hurt to give it a try.

                                                      His freezer didn't seem to get cold enough and the refrigerator would freeze some things on the top shelf.

                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                      Oops just posted the same thing again.

                                                2. re: thymetobake

                                                  I have one, and it's a blessing and a curse. My kitchen is an extremely narrow galley and a regular depth fridge would have reduced the size of the aisle to something less than 2.5 feet - ugh. I could have put it at the closed end of the galley, but then everyone would be constantly squeezing past me while I'm cooking to get a glass of water or an ice cube - NOT ACCEPTABLE.

                                                  So, putting the cabinet depth fridge at the entrance of the kitchen worked really well for us, and when it's just me and DH at home, it's fine - even after a big trip to Costco, there's plenty of space for our needs. However, when his daughters are staying with us, it get VERY full, very fast - partially due to the larger volume of food required to feed four people vs. two, but also because they drink things like milk and soda that tend to take up a lot of room. We work around it, but it's annoying for sure. Better than a side-by-side, however.

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    Sounds like a small bar fridge in the garage or pantry might be in order for drinks only.
                                                    I put one in the garage for all the condiments - they were crowding out my food.

                                              2. It's not at all uncommon for buyers of a home built in recent years to discover that the first/previous owner never even removed the instruction manual from the oven. This is more likely to occur in densely-populated areas where there are more restaurant and market options than in rural areas, and is dependent on a generous amount of discretionary income.

                                                Those perennial articles and TV features about how to stretch a dollar always include the "duh" advice to cook your own meals. That this comes as a revelatory concept to some folks is mind-boggling to me.

                                                1. "I don't cook."

                                                  "Why? What's wrong with you?" And then you give them this really shocked and disgusted look. I suggest practicing it in the mirror to get it right.

                                                  1. I saw Michael Pollan talking about industrial food marketing studies and in counting the number of households that "cook," they do indeed include nuking frozen foods as "cooking."

                                                    9 Replies
                                                      1. re: mcsheridan

                                                        Hi mcsheridan,

                                                        Sounds like we need to first define cooking. If I nuke some frozen corn for a quick starch, am I not cooking it? If I nuke an ear of corn in the husk I doubt there are any who would claim I didn't cook it. I don't see a real difference, although some may.

                                                        If I buy an IQF salmon fillet, toss it in a baking dish and bake it, I'm absolutely sure I cooked.

                                                        Extrapolating to a full meal, I can serve it with nuked mashed potatoes (setting aside the idea of salmon and mash) and a veg. From there it's a short step to a TV dinner.

                                                        But say, for example, I baked that salmon and served it with a frozen, nukable stir fry veggie combo, I can not only claim to be cooking, but serving healthy food. *I* wouldn't do it, because for starters, the cost alone would be prohibitive for me. But for busy people with disposable income? Why not?

                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                          With sous vide I can do a lot of cooking one day and then basically just reheat and sear it later. It's like a TV dinner for people who like food and don't mind 4-5 minutes of effort, and a 30-45 minute wait time.

                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                            In the strictest definition, Any heating of a foodstuff can be said to have cooked it. But if I came over to your house because you said you'd make me dinner, and then I got served plain nuked corn, unseasoned baked fish, and nuked mashed potatoes, I'd be writing it up as a complaint post here on Chow for the sympathy and amusement of other posters. "S/He told me s/he was going to cook me dinner! All S/he did was heat up some frozen stuff! I could have stayed home!"

                                                            Worse is pulling a Lean Cuisine or Marie Callender's box out of the freezer, nuking it, and calling that "cooking".

                                                            That's what I mean by sad. Cooking has come a long way since the discovery of fire, else we wouldn't be yakking so much about food here on Chow.

                                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                                              <That's what I mean by sad. Cooking has come a long way since the discovery of fire, else we wouldn't be yakking so much about food here on Chow.>

                                                              Sure, I get that, and agree. But recall that your "senseless and sad" was in response to industrial food marketing studies counting nuked frozen food as cooked. I mean, where should the marketeers draw the line? What counts as cooked? That's all I'm saying. :-)

                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                "Marketeers" - I like the image of marketing types in Mouse ears. :D

                                                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                  LOL! i didn't even realize I'd typed that. I've been calling them marketeers for so long, it's become second nature. :-D

                                                        2. re: sandiasingh

                                                          Michael Pollan is self righteous douche bag.

                                                        3. I can't wrap my head around it either!

                                                          A coworker of mine does not cook. She eats out, orders in, picks up ready made meals at Trader Joes. or lately just eats little vegetarian burritos from 7-11 because she's on a diet. It explains why she's always broke, cooking is generally not as expensive - she has $$$ taste in restaurants!

                                                          12 Replies
                                                          1. re: jujuthomas

                                                            "lately just eats little vegetarian burritos from 7-11 because she's on a diet"

                                                            This makes my head hurt.

                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                              mine too! first it was a cleanse diet, then pills, then herbalife, now these little burritos AND pills.

                                                              I just keep my mouth shut. :)

                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                I avoid people like that, like the plague.

                                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                  If I didn't work with her... naw, she's ok. she's really funny and sweet just really weird food ideas.

                                                                2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                  There was a woman that lived in my neighborhood with some weird habits. She would walk her little cart up to the corner drugstore and back every couple of days. She covered up with veils, hats, gloves, the whole nine yards, everything- made no eye contact with anybody. This wasn't a religious covering up either, a friend from work lived across the street from her, and knew her somewhat. She was clearly a senior. One day when we had little green open recycling bins like milk crates, DH walked the dog by her house and saw that her recycle bin was full of Ensure cans and nothing else. That was his regular route, BTW, he wasn't seeking her out. She was also very, very thin. Probably a career anorexic, but definitely didn't like cooking.

                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                    Or she had a health condition that affected her digestion and sensitivity to sunlight.

                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                      the behavior described is not inconsistent with lupus. lupus would mean sun exposure could cause extreme pain, fatigue is a real issue, and ensure may be the best way to nourish oneself.

                                                                      for the record, as an anorexic in recovery, we fear ensure like no other. we all hate it because it has SO many calories in SUCH a small package, and it's what every recovery program feeds you to bump calories in your weight gain phase. we HATE that shit. so i suspect something other than eating disorder, and at any rate wish her well.

                                                                      1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                        Thanks for that insight, chartreauxx, I didn't know that aspecty of either thing.
                                                                        Her neighbor that knew her didn't go into detail, but did say that she was "odd". Who knows.

                                                                        I can see where Ensure would be the enemy of an anorexic, but if she was on a strict budget and diluted it with water and only had one can a day, as a former borderline anorexic myself, I can see where that might be the case. Not trying to push my case, but by all accounts she was peculiar. Again- not sure what her issues were.
                                                                        My anorexic past had me eating a hard boiled egg and a glass of skim milk with a bunch of powdered milk added and whipped up, and salad ingredients with no dressing. That was it for the day.
                                                                        To this day I love a head of iceberg with a little salt on the pieces.

                                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                                          EWS since she was a senior and presumably on a fixed income, where does Ensure place on a nutrition/$ spectrum?

                                                                          or maybe she just no longer had the will or energy to cook or think about dressing.

                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                            I remember reading an article about outraged seniors not having their Ensure covered by insurance any more, as they found it quite expensive in nutrition/$ terms. Although these were people who eat food too, and use Ensure to supplement nutrition and calories.

                                                                            As for the old lady, if she is indeed "odd," perhaps she is mentally ill. Some illnesses make it difficult to tolerate much in the way of stimulation (texture, taste, smell, etc.) and I have worked with people in inpatient settings who only will drink their meals for this reason.

                                                                            It's all just speculation. Maybe she just likes the taste of Ensure, finds it easier than cooking, and has her own unique fashion sense!

                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                              that and sometimes age and depression can go hand in hand. - eh a topic for a different forum altogether but a consideration.

                                                                            2. re: hill food

                                                                              My father loved his Ensure! This was a man who had been fed delicious, hearty home cooking for 80+ years, first by his mother, then for 50 years by his wife, then after he was widowed by his 4 daughters. But in the last 5 years of his life he was ill and on many medications and lost his appetite, and many foods made him sick. So he began drinking Ensure, and he thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread! A triumph of science, all the nutrition and calories you can hold in one little can.

                                                                              I know many older people who drink Ensure due to digestion/health reasons. I don't think drinking it has anything to do with not liking to cook - after all, a package of baloney and loaf of bread is just as easy and much cheaper.

                                                              2. A friend told me that in the 3 or so years she's lived in her apartment, she's never turned on her oven. She's not wealthy but she does eat out fairly often, usually a salad or something simple, she'll eat part of it in the restaurant and take the other half home for the next day. If she doesn't go out, dinner might be a bowl of cereal or something like that. She's pretty skinny so I think she's one of these people that eats to live rather than lives to eat, but I'm with those who find it pretty hard to fathom, especially given her claims that she's on a limited budget. Actually, now that I think about it, she's also told me that she can cook, but doesn't like cooking just for herself. So she doesn't.

                                                                1. I'm afraid this is more common than we think. More than 40 years ago, we bought a house from a couple with three children who had lived in the house for about 3 years. The cardboard shipping material and stickers were still in the oven - it had never been used.

                                                                  A (thrice-divorced) woman I know planted daisies in her kitchen sink -- she did not need the sink since she n-e-v-e-r cooked and thought these brightened the room.

                                                                  A quilter, who does not cook at all, uses her kitchen as her quilting studio. Fabrics are stored in the oven ("pull out shelves make this convenient") and all the drawers and cabinets store sewing gear. The island is her work station/cutting table.

                                                                  A Manhattan career woman I know has not connected her oven for the more than 20 years that she's lived in her apt. Says there is no need since she either eats out or does take-out/delivery.

                                                                  Unfortunately, I know more examples but this is plenty of bad news for now.

                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Sherri

                                                                    No more! No more! You're scaring me! And here I thought the strangest person I ever met (not a friend, and not in contact with her) was the woman who hated music. Not a particular type - all music.

                                                                    1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                      Not cooking is just expensive and takes real dedication. Not liking music? Now THAT'S bizarre! :-D

                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                        I went through a decade long period of my life where I didn't listen to music during the 90's. I was living a lot in the wilderness, meditating, leading month long canoe and backpacking trips and mountain climbing, and basically getting away from many aspects of modern society and embracing myself, thinking deeply, etc. I quit drugs, smoking, booze, sugar, caffeine, fast food, etc. The only music that I heard was some new age meditation stuff, and some Native American stuff, on a monthly, not daily basis.

                                                                        This was after a more than a decade of boozing, drugging, constant cranked tunes on the stereo and in the car, rock concerts several times a week, drag racing, motorcycles, NYC dance clubs, and other various mischief and mayhem during the late 70's and most of the 80's.

                                                                        I never watched tv until I hit my mid-30's when I lived with a woman who couldn't fall asleep unless the tv was on. I still remember one 90's show that I saw the first half of every week for a whole season, but rarely if ever the second half because I would turn it off after my gf fell asleep. Then I started to get hooked on tv and for the next 6-8 years watched 4-5 hours a night, even after we finally broke up, until I lost a lot of interest in tv recently. (Oh, that 90's tv show... Dawson's Creek.)

                                                                        Nowadays I listen to music of all types in my car from satellite stations, but no music at all, at home. Home is for thinking, working, cooking, food/beverage research in my lab, gardening, wood and stone working and carving, reading, and relaxing. I watch tv several hours a week, but would rather read.

                                                                        But I cook like crazy.

                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                          Dawson's Creek? oh my, that is rock bottom, that may be worse than the Aaron Spelling/Darren Star 'ouevre'

                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                            When I realized that my brain was rotting away from just watching half of that show each week, I broke off the several year relationship and moved 1200 miles away.

                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                              musta been rough, there was a time around 1990 for $$ reasons I had to share a house with a bunch of people who turned out to be major drug addicts. It took the longest time to figure out why they never ate and always had the TV on when 90210 was airing.

                                                                          2. re: JMF

                                                                            "(Oh, that 90's tv show... Dawson's Creek.)"
                                                                            Too funny. Did you ever read Dawson's Wrap (that eventually turned into the now recently deceased Television Without Pity?)

                                                                      2. re: Sherri

                                                                        Wow, people can be strange, can't they? But in a way it is admirable that they know how they want to live and then they do it.

                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                          "But in a way it is admirable that they know how they want to live and then they do it."

                                                                          I'll agree that all of these women have made choices to do it 'their way'. In all but one instance, it impacts no one else so they're free flood their kitchen and turn it into an aquarium if they wish. I draw the "creativity" line where children are involved.

                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                            I don't think it's so admirable when there are children in the household who must grow up without the nurture that comes with having an adult cook for them.

                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                              I agree. I guess I assumed that these were all single people. I didn't occur to me that there could be children involved in these situations!!!

                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                Devil's advocate here, because I like cooking for people, and nothing lights me up like having one of my grandsons praise my food.

                                                                                That said, if those kids are living with a parent who teaches them the old quilting craft, or reads to them, or teaches them to enjoy a kitchen garden, how are they not being nurtured? There are other ways to show kids the love. Just sayin'.

                                                                          2. I've gone through phases like that when it was literally true, or very nearly so. I ate at the company cafeteria and otherwise ate out. I always had a coffeepot at home, but don't remember even having food that didn't need cooking or heating. That only works for single persons and only for a few years at most in my case.

                                                                            1. When I was single and lived alone I rarely cooked even though for some of this time I cooked professionally.. Donut & coffee or egg sandwich bought from a bagel shop for breakfast, went out to lunch from the office & went out or ordered in for dinner. It's actually cheaper I think than shopping for groceries & dealing (frequently throwing out) leftovers and you don't have to deal with dirty pans.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: zackly

                                                                                You are completely wrong about the economics. Only if one were completely unmotivated to avoid waste, and extemely disorganized, would it be cheaper to buy already-prepared meals. E.g.: a can of coffee and a pint of light cream total $7.50 and last me 2 weeks. Two work week's worth of morning coffee to go will cost several times that, at least.

                                                                              2. I have neighbors in their sixties who do not cook. They go out for every meal. It is my understanding that they have never cooked. If they want a cup of coffee they go out for coffee. When they remodeled their kitchen they hung an oil painting over the stove because the stove is never used.

                                                                                1. I know these people. Starting with my grandmother. I was quite alarmed when I started to preheat her over and a toasty cardboard smell started up. Luckily, I found all the cereal and triscuits, etc before they caught fire.
                                                                                  The apple from her tree--my mom. She can do toast and lean cuisine. My dad was the household's competent, but not brilliant cook.
                                                                                  My ex. If I wasn't around, yogurt, granola and baby carrots were had at home. He ate out often.
                                                                                  Le sigh...
                                                                                  Shows, magazines, books and the interwebs are the only reasons I can even cook at all. My family is amazed sometimes.

                                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                    My mother and grandmother both cooked, but did plain food with a begrudging attitude. I had to teach myself to explore and enjoy food and cooking. My poor father was so interested in exploring the world of food, and she always foiled him!

                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                      I think that's impressive that you've taken the time to learn to cook then, alliegator. This thread makes me wonder how all these kids will fare once they're out on their own, not having had home cooked meals growing up. My mother never sat me down and said "This is how you cook xyz," but us kids were her helpers in the kitchen at least half the time, so we learned that way.

                                                                                      My boyfriend doesn't really cook at all. I know he can make eggs, boil water/pasta, and he can grill chicken breasts or steak. But when we're apart, he eats cereal with milk for breakfast, and lunch and dinner out. I've seen it firsthand for days on end and it looks exhausting for some reason.

                                                                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                        <This thread makes me wonder how all these kids will fare once they're out on their own, not having had home cooked meals growing up. My mother never sat me down and said "This is how you cook xyz," but us kids were her helpers in the kitchen at least half the time, so we learned that way.>

                                                                                        Google and Youtube. Worked for me. Not that Mom didn't cook, she didn't cook what I eat, and I didn't learn the techniques I need from her.

                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                          Yeah, the internet is a fantastic tool for learning to cook. And when I'm in a jam or don't know how to prepare something properly, this site is excellent. Some people call mom for this sort of thing, I can usually come up with several answers here quite quickly :)

                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                            No question the internet is a fantastic cooking tool. So much information at your finger tips in seconds

                                                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                              alliegator and scubadoo,

                                                                                              I love the innerwebs for cooking. In the last 5 years, I've only purchased 2 cookbooks. The need is just no longer there. I can get almost any recipe I want online, from almost any chef. And with a good recipe manager app (mine is Paprika) I can grab said recipe from any website, most of the them automagically, with photos, notes and nutri info.

                                                                                              I like to do what alligator does and look at multiple solutions to the same problem, or multiple versions of the same recipe. So helpful, and so hard to do with cookbooks.

                                                                                              Technique videos? Gotta love them, they've taught me so much.

                                                                                              Yeah, I love the Google machine. In fact, the 2 books I did buy ((Stir Fry to the Sky's Edge and Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday) were for the non-recipe content.

                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                Just this week I laughed with a friend about the "olden days" of the card catalog at the library. I spent HOURS looking up and writing down the Dewey #s I needed. Now I just type in my searches in Google.

                                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                                  Omg, I remember the Dewey decimal system and my endless heaps of notecards with numbers of books to help me complete my schoolwork.
                                                                                                  The internet is such a beautiful thing, but I'm kinda glad it came to be when I was at an age that I also know what it is to be without it.
                                                                                                  I have a ton of cookbooks that I love to look through. I but quite a few because I have a built in shelf in my dining room, and they're handsome there as well as quite useful :)

                                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                    I was such a book nerd that I knew the general categories of the Dewey numbers for my specialty areas--still helps when I go to the local library just to browse.

                                                                                                    1. re: pine time

                                                                                                      Dewey! How quaint! I did most of my college browsing in LC. :)

                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                        How quaint--I'm 100 years old! Also remember manual typewriters--horrors--even with no auto return. To earn extra money in college, I'd type term papers for other students, using carbon paper so there'd be 2 copies--photocopiers were expensive, and printers, of course, weren't even on the horizon.

                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                          I'm 60 years old and also used a manual typewriter and carbon paper in college, and typed for others as well.

                                                                                                          In the 1980s copier salespeople were a royal pain in the butt, constantly walking into my office at the bakery to try to sell me a copier.
                                                                                                          I'd point to a sheet of carbon paper thumb tacked to the bulletin board above my desk and say, that's all the copier I need...............
                                                                                                          They'd leave in a hurry

                                                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                                                            Wow- thanks for the blast to the past, pine time!
                                                                                                            My mother was a career secretary- we always had a typewriter around, and I took typing classes in high school in case I ended up being a secretary too. I didn't, but had to tell doctors' secretaries how to type for slides, with the carbon in backward for maximum blackness so we could photograph it and produce a slide with the most contrast between the text and the blue background. Wow- what a pain in the arse for all involved, now that I think back on it!

                                                                                      2. When we bought our house almost 5 years ago, we loved everything about it -- the location, size, layout, etc. Everything inside was updated, newly painted, clean and it looked great. Everything except the kitchen. The kitchen is a throwback to 1988 -- white painted cabinets that don't close properly, white tile countertops, an old oven and dishwasher, older style light fixture, etc. When looking at the house with our agent, the owner was there, and told us that they fixed up the whole house but never bothered remodeling the kitchen because they never used it. The husband and wife apparently didn't cook, and their 2 teenage kids either ate fast food or packaged food that could be microwaved. They were both active in sports and school so most of the time they were on the go and ate out. The husband said they would make pancakes or maybe a sandwich but that was about it. They used the microwave to heat everything, and the stove was barely used. They couldn't remember the last time they had used the oven.

                                                                                        I was really looking for a house with a nice kitchen, but we ended up buying the house because everything else about it fit our wish list. We planned on gutting the kitchen and remodeling after a couple years, but that plan got sidetracked. We did replace the dishwasher and recently the fridge, but I can't wait until we are able to finally do the dream remodel we were originally planning.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                          Stories like this reinforce my solitary conviction that school and professional sports, so uniformly lauded as being valuable tools in creating well-adjusted, well-rounded adults, actually undermine the family unit, which I maintain is far more important in a child's development. Kids are too scheduled, with sports and other activities that were once optional and now are considered mandatory, for parents (especially when both work outside the home) to have regular meals with their children, much less to cook them from scratch.

                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                            My son worked and played soccer. Many evenings over a period of several years, I made three dinners a day. One, an early one so he could go wherever he needed to go. Two, when hubby got home from work and before we possibly went to the kid's game. Three, when son got home from his work/game/practice and was hungry again.

                                                                                            I had to have a job where I could be home early and also had to plan ahead more than I am naturally inclined to on a daily basis.

                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                              You are a good mama! Cooking for my boyfriend now makes me appreciate even more how hard it must have been for my mother. She worked 6 AM to 6 PM, ran 4 kids around to afterschool sports/activities, and had a homemade meal ready whenever we needed it at least 6 nights a week. Then dad would meander in late and she had a plate for him too. Moms are the best.

                                                                                        2. Lots of people don't cook.
                                                                                          No skin off my nose.

                                                                                          1. Some of my married friends do not cook at all. They go to work to bring home the bacon. Their wives do all the shopping and cooking,also making lunches for him and the kids. And they hardly ever eat out.

                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: emglow101

                                                                                              But there is someone in the household cooking.

                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                So were talking about single people here. Or two people living together or married who don't cook at all ?

                                                                                              2. re: emglow101

                                                                                                I think that's probably pretty common. My dad cooked once during my entire childhood, just to show my mom he could. I was maybe 7 years old and distinctly remember he made a chicken and vegetable stir fry in a wok which was like nothing I'd ever tasted but completely edible. He kept a cookbook in front of him the entire time, and dinner didn't hit the table til around 9 PM. My mother was huffy about it and pushed her food around with her fork.

                                                                                                Now they are in their 60s and when my mother goes out of town, dad subsists on frozen Lean Cuisine dinners every night until she returns. It used to make me sad, so I offered a few times to come cook for him or have him over for dinner, but he LOVES those frozen dinners and politely declined. I think he likes the variety and "value." He gets very excited recounting which meals he picked out for the week, and how little they cost compared to eating out.

                                                                                                I think the whole housewife doing all the cooking thing works fine until the husband outlives the wife... and then he's left with this fully stocked kitchen and no idea what to do in there.

                                                                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                  My parents are in their 80s. Dad had a regular Mon-Fri type job, and mom stayed home to raise the 5 of us. She did the majority of the cooking. But now, as her health declines, dad cooks 4 out of 7 evening meals, some lunches, and they eat out/take out at least once a week.
                                                                                                  When we were young, I think my dad cooked meals only rarely, except for grilling.

                                                                                                  1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                    My hubby cooked for himself and others in college and we cooked together until the munchkin came along. Then he took over kid entertainment while I cooked.

                                                                                                    Fast forward, kid is 25 (and gone) and I do about 75% while hubby helps prep and set the table - then he does most of the cleanup.

                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                      My dad has always been the one to set the table and do the dishes, and mom cooked. I like that division of labor, and have always had the same set up with boyfriends and my ex hubby.

                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                        Speaking of, and totally OT, but I've been wondering how it's going with your son in town?? Hope you're having a blast, and getting to spend some quality time together.

                                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                          Thanks for remembering! Yeah, we're seeing him a couple of times a week and really enjoying it! Such a great kid - we're so lucky!

                                                                                                  2. A friend of mine lives on restaurant and take-out food. He has a good deal of disposable income and no interest in cooking. He also lives and works near good restaurants within walking distance. He has bragged (he seems proud of it) that in an emergency where he was trapped in his condo, he'd have to subsist on a bottle of wine and maybe a box of crackers.

                                                                                                    I also have relatives with children, a married couple, who don't cook, either. They have raised four kids on chain restaurants, the occasional summer cook-out that is the one meal the dad seems to cook a couple times a year, and pre-packaged frozen food. I can tell you that they do not have produce in the house unless somehow a stray mini-bag of baby carrots sneaks into the shopping cart on someone's good intentions.

                                                                                                    And my SO does not cook, either. I don't mind doing it, so it's one way we divide household duties. Before me, he pretty much lived on tuna sandwiches, specialty cheeses and crackers, frozen pizza, lots of fruit, and the occasional restaurant hamburger. He does eat like a bird, and although he enjoys food when it is presented to him, he does not have an interest in cooking. However, he loves to grocery shop and find the best ingredients for *my* cooking. So we enjoy the shopping part together, which is a big deal. It's much more fun to do errands like grocery shopping together if you both enjoy the separate trips to the favorite store for fruit, the favorite butcher, etc.

                                                                                                    1. God gave us restaurants and take-out for a reason.

                                                                                                      1. I have seen the most beautiful kitchen in homes where no one cooks. I know people who go out for every meal or have it brought in.

                                                                                                        1. No problem with people who don't cook. The ones who get a raised eyebrow are those who cheerfully stuff their faces with my homemade nosh, then give me "You MADE all this? You have too much time on your hands."

                                                                                                          Yeah, don't we all. Suffice to say, comments like that don't get another invitation.

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: jammy

                                                                                                            Ugh - exactly! Drives me nuts when I show up with a plate of cookies/pan of lasagna/brownies/whatever - and I am told that I "need a life". I HAVE a life. It involves making sheets of homemade pasta with my 5 yr old, showing her how to roll cookie dough and peel carrots - NOT sitting in front of mindless hours of crap TV.

                                                                                                            1. re: jammy

                                                                                                              I've been baby-shamed because of my cooking hobby, as in "You have too much time on your hands - time for children." That's a direct quote from a Facebook comment when I posted something about cooking.

                                                                                                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                That is just downright rude. No one's business but yours and hubbies when/if you have kids. No one's business but yours how you spend your time.

                                                                                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                  Good lord- anybody who says that needs to be slapped across the face. What ingratitude.

                                                                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                    Why do people do this? It's awful and yet very common. Suggesting that somebody should have kids because not having them is lazy - that's a truly terrible reason to have a child, just so people won't consider you a slacker. Sheesh.

                                                                                                                2. I know a fair number of people who don't cook, and a number whose apartment doesn't contain cooking facilities. The two big longer term issues are cost (eating out tends to cost more than cooking), and nutrition (highly processed foods, lots of fat/starch/salt). But there are a ton of options out there, particularly in an urban area.

                                                                                                                  Food that doesn't need to be cooked - cereal, instant oatmeal, granola bars, yoghurt, fresh fruit, bagged salads and pre-cut vegetables, muffins, cheese and crackers, sandwiches, breads, pre-made dips.

                                                                                                                  Take out/Pick up - there are tons of options where I live, lots of little places that sell things like stir fried meat and vegetables, fried rice or noodles, soups and stews, deep fried, braised or grilled foods, roast duck, cold marinated vegetable dishes, dumplings etc.

                                                                                                                  Grocery Store - lots of pre-cooked reading to eat foods, various salads and the salad bar, the bakery section, cold meats and cheeses.

                                                                                                                  If you add in heating up stuff, you've got canned soups and stews, frozen french fries, fish sticks and chicken nuggets, frozen seasoned vegetables, pizzas, lasagna and pasta dishes, etc. etc.

                                                                                                                  1. I've just discovered that there are a lot of people that don't even have an oven. Huh? I can't even imagine!!

                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                      Ever watch House Hunters? Lack of oven is extremely common in tropical climes. I was shocked to discover this. But as someone who uses her oven only about once a week, and hardly ever in summer, I get it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                        I guess I get it if the space could be used for something used more often. I continually think about selling/buying a house. If I had to buy a house with no oven and immediately do construction in an otherwise nice kitchen and have things match, etc., it would be disappointing.

                                                                                                                      2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                        Ovens are not at all common in Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia. My mother in law has never used one, and she cooks every day and is a fantastic cook. If people want baked goods, they go to the local bakery.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                          Totally agree if an oven is not used much in the local cuisine.

                                                                                                                          1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                            Yeah, it's a good point. And I imagine some people in the world use a sort of stovetop oven made with clay. Or a tandoori.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                              Heck...I have what's probably considered too many ovens (don't ask!) and I **still** want a tandoori! Trying to justify the purchase (and figure out where to keep the thing). I'd probably end up using it once! ;-)

                                                                                                                            2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                              It's too hot.

                                                                                                                              The husband mentioned that when he was younger, they had a box oven that went on top of the kerosene cookers. Because, back in those days, outside of bakeries, ovens didn't exist in the country. I think they started coming into Sri Lanka about a decade and a half ago. But then, his mother got her first washing machine a little over a decade ago as well - before that, everything was washed by hand. And his parents are middle-class.

                                                                                                                          2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                            In a world-wide and many century context, having an oven in the home is unusual. It requires space, ventilation, fire resistance construction, and reliable and safe fuel (gas or electricity).

                                                                                                                            I don't think you'd be so excited about baking if you had to do it in a wood or coal fired cast iron range or open hearth. Or if spilled coals could burn down the house, or give you serious burns.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                              Home ovens are pretty much non existent in Taiwan. Apartments and kitchens tend to be very small, baking isn't a big part of the cuisine, and the summers are hot, humid and long (not to mention that the kitchen is almost never air conditioned). Kitchens tend to be designed more for quick stir-fry or steaming. My kitchen is pretty good by Taipei standards, and I have a two burner gas stove that won't do a low simmer, with a very powerful fuel hood, a small amount of counter space, and a large, single sink.

                                                                                                                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                Sounds almost like my Beijing kitchen. And ours had been "remodeled for foreigners."
                                                                                                                                Most of my friends had a "porch" Roth a door outside their kitchen where the 2 burner gas stove lived.

                                                                                                                                Kris now in DC/NoVA

                                                                                                                            2. I once had a supervisor, who, not only didn't cook, refused to cook. She ate every single breakfast and dinner from MacDonald's. Lunch was provided by the snack vending machine at work and eaten at her desk. Then she got pregnant, continued with MacDonalds etc. and put on lots of weight. She was already a heavy woman to start with. I used to worry for that poor baby especially when she started wearing girdles so she didn't have to spend the money on maternity clothes. More money for Big Macs and lottery tickets, hey! I moved on before she had her baby but always wondered. Twenty years later I was working at a call center and one of my trainees turned out to be that baby, her son. Poor kid was a good hundred pounds overweight and almost mute with unhappiness.

                                                                                                                              I'm no skinny minny but I do cook for myself.

                                                                                                                              1. I know many TINK that eat out every night (or order in).

                                                                                                                                The kitchen, as they say, is there to round out the look of the apartment.

                                                                                                                                1. It seems that a lot of people don't cook at all in Singapore. But Singapore is a bit of an unusual place...

                                                                                                                                  Property prices, including rentals, are through the roof, so it's common to flat share. My husband and I did this when we first came to Singapore - we rented out the master bedroom. In the first place, we had kitchen access with strict but reasonable rules, the second place we had to negotiate for kitchen access - they didn't want to give it. Most places, you don't get kitchen access (other than perhaps for the kettle or maybe also the microwave - but certainly not for dishes or the fridge or stove.) Most places will have burners only, no oven.

                                                                                                                                  Added to that that Singapore has no farmland and the vast majority of all food consumed is imported, and food prices are pretty expensive. It's actually cheaper to eat out, especially if you go to hawker centres for dinner and cheap banquet-style places for lunch.

                                                                                                                                  Most people, as a result, eat out.

                                                                                                                                  1. I had House Hunters on for background noise while doing some house stuff today, and there was a couple looking a a cute 1940s bungalow. He's complaining about how small everything is and how you couldn't open the stove and the fridge at the same time.

                                                                                                                                    The wife replied: "whats the problem, it's not like we are going to be cooking in here" I had to laugh, at least she was honest

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: autumm

                                                                                                                                      "you couldn't open the stove and the fridge at the same time."

                                                                                                                                      You can't do this in our kitchen either. Grrrr. The kitchen is small and the fridge and oven are directly across from each other.. Just one of the many things I hate about this kitchen.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                        My fridge, DW, 2 cabinets, and oven -- only one of those doors open at a time.
                                                                                                                                        I finally gave up and moved the fridge to the dining room. It partially blocks a sliding door, but that's less terrible than the "planned" set-up.

                                                                                                                                    2. I know many many of these people. But I live in nyc where ordering delivery isn't that expensive and groceries are. Time is a precious commodity here and many would rather spend theirs doing something other than food prep- assuming they can even do that much.
                                                                                                                                      I was helping at my friends' party and unknowingly asked a non-cook to chop an onion. She found a paring knife and less than a minute later had managed to cut herself pretty well with it...... At which point she shared the fact she was beyond clueless.

                                                                                                                                      I certainly do much much more cooking than any of my friends yet still only cook 3-4xs a week and am out or have leftovers the other nights.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                        Very trueTtrockwood. And there is a difference between "can't cook" and "don't cook." My sister is single and lives in NYC. She is a great cook. Between living alone and working odd hours, she does not do that much cooking for herself. And her fridge is rarely very full -- if she wants to cook for herself, she just picks something up on her way home. She is more likely to meet friends for dinner at a restaurant than host a dinner party, although she does that from time to time.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: masha

                                                                                                                                          True - and I would add "won't cook" to the list, too.

                                                                                                                                      2. I don't get it, either. It just seems that it would be a real inconvenience to have to leave the house whenever I want to eat something.
                                                                                                                                        If I'm working in the yard, for example, and I want lunch, I don't want to get in the car and go somewhere. I just want to walk into the house and heat up some leftovers or make a sandwich. When I get home from work, I don't want to go back out again, especially if it's cold or rainy out. Plus, I'd have to wait much longer to actually have my food in front of me if I have to decide where to go, drive somewhere, park, go in and wait for a table, order, wait for my meal...
                                                                                                                                        Many of us don't live in a big city where we can walk downstairs to all kinds of little food joints and be fed with just a short wait. It can be a real chore, but we all know people who would rather wait in line or at a table at a restaurant than to take the same amount of time to just cook their own.

                                                                                                                                        52 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                          Cooking at home involves more than just the time to cook the ingredients, you also have to factor in the time to buy the ingredients, cleanup, prep, etc., and let's not forget the need to store all the staples one needs to cook at home like spices, grains, canned goods and the requisite cookware.

                                                                                                                                          Not cooking at home may seem foreign to you, and even unworkable, but for many it's not only an accepted way of life, but an enjoyable one.

                                                                                                                                          Just because it does not work for you, doesn't necessarily mean it cannot work for other people.

                                                                                                                                          Plus, some people may just not like to cook. Weird, I know.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                            That's one thing I never think about... procuring the ingredients, because my pantry and freezer are always stuffed full of potential meals.
                                                                                                                                            As you mentioned, ipsdixit, and others here, all the shopping and storing and planning can be a chore for those who can't just walk into their kitchen and whip up a three course meal without going to the store. That's a real deterrent to even learning to cook.
                                                                                                                                            I get it, but I was raised in a family of cooks, and most of my friends are good cooks, too.
                                                                                                                                            Preparing and sharing meals together is the SOP in my circle of friends, and I like that very much. (we even load each other's dishwashers - I know, that's crazy).

                                                                                                                                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                              When I last lived in SoCal, we had a circle of friends who lived on our block and were winos like us. SOP was not cooking together, but more often hanging out on the patio, sipping (chugging) wine, then tossing together some kind of cheese, meat, fruit, crackerish thing and calling it dinner. Option 2 was lots of dining out, lingering for hours over a meal.

                                                                                                                                              It's really all the same, isn't it, whether we do the cooking or let someone else handle that?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                "It's really all the same, isn't it, whether we do the cooking or let someone else handle that?"

                                                                                                                                                No, not at all.

                                                                                                                                                Dining out or grabbing quick nibbles from the fridge (meat, cheese, crackers) is great for socializing. There is no real "host" who's busy in the kitchen, and it's stress-free and leisurely.

                                                                                                                                                Hosting dinner parties where you're preparing everything yourself is a lot of work. Even when I'm able to prep most things in advance, there's always some last minute scurrying to plate things, something that got forgotten in the fridge, slicing bread, what have you.

                                                                                                                                                Score one point for not cooking.

                                                                                                                                                But I personally would never invite people over and serve them store-bought or pre-made food. Frankly I'd even feel weird serving them takeout or delivery, unless it was like ordering pizzas while we watched a football game. I enjoy the process of cooking and baking food from scratch, and enjoy even more watching my guests eat it.

                                                                                                                                                Maybe it's "really all the same" for guests at a party if someone else is cooking, but it's not at all the same (for a variety of reasons) if you're the one prepping food.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                  But you wrote that in your circle, SOP was "Preparing and sharing meals together". To me, that says it's all about the shared experience. The camaraderie. The joy of being together, doing something you all love to do.

                                                                                                                                                  I wrote about SOP with my former circle. For us, it was all about being together, doing something we loved.

                                                                                                                                                  Those two things aren't the same? My bad.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                    Duffyh, it was me that wrote about "preparing and sharing meals together", and I do agree with you that it is all about being together. No question about that.

                                                                                                                                                    Nothingswrong replied to your post with another point of view, from the position of host and sole cook. I haven't done that ever, that I recall. But then, I've always entertained friends who like to cook as much as I do, and want to participate in a shared meal - not by design so much as by default.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                      Hey, kitchengardengal, thanks for clearing that up. That'll teach me to post when i'm time-pressed. :-(

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                    nothingswrong,

                                                                                                                                                    I'm sorry I got confused about identities this morning. Can I safely say that you misunderstood my "all the same" post to apply to any gathering of friends?

                                                                                                                                                    I was only speaking in terms of a group doing all the work together, a group going out or pooling nibbles for an impromptu meal. Those three are the same, in my view. One person doing all the work is different. :-)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I think that makes more sense now.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm headed to a dinner party later actually, where the hostess will be doing virtually all of the prep herself. Her husband always asks me to bring something sweet, since she's a chronic dieter and won't keep any starchy carbs in the house anymore. So I always make something and sneak it into the garage for him.

                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, there is something very nice about not being the hostess for once. I'm looking forward to just sitting on my butt with a drink :)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                              Exactly! Maybe not cooking is a diet plan...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                Sandylc, being a member of Weight Watchers has made me see that not cooking can be a recipe for unfortunate eating habits. Many of the women at the meetings live on prepared or restaurant food, switch to Lean Cuisine to lose weight, then wonder why they gain it all back when they go back to their old eating habits. They still haven't learned to eat *well*.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                  Everything you say makes sense.

                                                                                                                                                  I have a friend who cooks lovely food from scratch, though, who joined WW once several years ago. When she quit later, she said that it turned her into a person who wanted to eat an entire package of purchased cookies in one sitting - something she never would have done before. Not sure what went wrong there! Not typical, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                    I think I know what happened - one thing WW stresses is moderation. Don't deprive yourself of the high calorie foods you love, just eat less of them.

                                                                                                                                                    In spite of that counsel, many members go cold turkey on their favorites in fear of overdoing it. Of course that backfires in time - and the result is a binge on the very thing you worked so hard to avoid.

                                                                                                                                                    Learning healthy eating habits is hard enough when you prepare your own meals. With restaurants and take out, it takes a lot of menu studying, checking nutritional information online, and planning ahead to eat a balanced wholesome diet. The restaurant and quick food industries aren't in business to sell you the healthiest meal, and it's very easy to just give up having to think about every bite you take.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                      Completely agree. I don't go out to eat nearly as much as most people, so am I going to look for the lowest-calorie-fat-carb-sugar dish? Probably not.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                    This! I do a lot of nutritional counseling and often when people start a new way of eating they just turn to a different form of processed food and never learn the real lesson of lifestyle change.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                      What kinds of things are you teaching them? Talk about nutrition, or also about how to boil water, etc.? I'm just curious. Sounds like good, meaningful work that will make a big change in their lives. Good for you, especially with how busy you already are.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                        I work with school-aged children mostly (elementary through high school) and I start with the basics. We chat about what they eat, why they like it, what foods they'd like to eat or why they don't eat certain foods, or why fast food seems easier than a breakfast from home, or how they feel after eating certain foods. I really try to understand behavior and then work from their perspective to incorporate new ideas. We take trips to the grocery store and have cooking sessions followed by dinner and lots of chit chat. It's really fun. The health of this nation, specifically the issue of obesity and metabolic syndrome, is probably my #1 passion so this work is important to me and no matter how sleep deprived I am, I can muster enough energy for it :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                          That sounds lovely fldhky! I've mentioned elsewhere that I live in a neighborhood with many low-income, young, single mothers. I often see them feeding their children things like Burger King with Venti Starbucks frappuccinos with whipped cream for breakfast. It just boggles the mind. There was one time I watched a little boy who couldn't have been more than 5 years old trying to reach his shoe laces. He was so incredibly obese--possibly the most overweight child I've ever seen--he couldn't bend to the ground without falling down. It made me simultaneously very sad and angry. His mother sat by, unaffected and not batting an eye. It was like 7:30 in the morning and they were eating French fries and pizza.

                                                                                                                                                          It makes me angry that kids like that will be struggling with completely preventable health issues from the get-go. They had no real choice in the matter, and will have to live with the implications probably for the rest of their lives. Classes like yours should be mandatory.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                            I drive by Burger King every morning on the way back from the gym and just have to close my eyes to avoid watching all the kids grab breakfast before walking across the street to the high school. I feel the same way, many kids have no choice and perhaps at no fault to the parents because they may or may not know any differently either. As Oprah says "when you know better, you can do better." At least I can share some knowledge and then it's up to the individual to make the choice.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                              But I'm just curious--I can't imagine ANYONE in this day and age not knowing that eating fast food is bad for you. Or that tons of fat and sugar can lead to diabetes or obesity.

                                                                                                                                                              In L.A. there are billboards EVERYWHERE saying these things. Ads on the bus benches. Public service announcements on TV. Posters in schools, libraries, etc.

                                                                                                                                                              Are there really people who don't know this by now? And if they have a child that they feed in this way--800 calorie frappuccinos for "snacks" and Pizza Hut for breakfast--and the child becomes grossly obese, can they not figure out that the diet is causing this??

                                                                                                                                                              I received little to no nutritional education growing up, but this has all seemed like common sense to me. I'm sorry if I sound ignorant, but I don't understand how people don't know this yet. It's like people who smoke for years and years and then are flabbergasted at the damage it does to them. My mother has patients like this with head/neck cancer and they act like it's breaking news that cigarettes can cause cancer. It says so right on the damn box!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                Well in reference to one of your comments, people still smoke.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi nothings wrong,

                                                                                                                                                                  It is mind-boggling that anyone would not know some basic facts about eating too much high-calorie food. I'd venture to guess that there's a lot of, for lack of a better phrase, willful blindness. If questioned, they'd of course admit to knowing. But processing the data into their lives, that's another thing entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                    Sometimes food is the only pleasure people get. Just sayin'. Plus, if your parents took you out for fast food most of the time, chances are that's your norm, and you never learned how to cook, I'm guessing. For some people that's a really, really enormous change.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                    Another poster just wrote about plying neighbor kids with fat and sugar laden homemade cookies, as though that was a good thing! :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                      Plying?
                                                                                                                                                                      She was kind and baked cookies for them, not stuck a crack pipe in their mouths!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                        but sugar is toxic, isn't it? Or is it just the fructose part? It's so hard to keep up with 'conflicting data'.

                                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/980168

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                          My point is that some sweets are fine- everything in moderation and all that.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                            When I think "toxic," I think of drinking bleach.

                                                                                                                                                                            Some sugar in your diet is not "toxic."

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                              You're missing a huge issue here - the food industry including fast food restaurants have designed food that is frankly addicting. You mentioned cigarettes and I wasn't being coy when I said "but people still smoke." Addiction to laboratory-created food is just as addicting as other things if not more so. Perhaps there is willfull blindness, but people are legitimately addicted.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                fldhkybnva, you are so on target about the addiction of these fake foods.
                                                                                                                                                                                At Weight Watchers, the leader is addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper. She was going through a couple of two liter bottles a day, and had done her best to replace half of that with water. Still, she struggles with it every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                Several people are addicted to things like Little Debbies, Fritos, WW brand bars and snacks - they binge, then back on the diet, then binge, then diet. I still have more weight to lose, but I have quit going to the meetings because it's just so depressing knowing the crap these women are putting in their bodies, while ostensibly trying to make a lifestyle change and eat healthier. They don't know what healthy eating is!

                                                                                                                                                                                What I wouldn't give for a healthy eating (and cooking!) weight loss group to join -

                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                  That does sound depressing. I hope you're able to find a group to support you that's more along the lines of what you need.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                    I get around this difficulty by going to the weigh-in, but not staying for the meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MrsBridges

                                                                                                                                                                                      That's what I've been doing for the last month. One more weigh in tomorrow, then I'm on my own.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, okay. I didn't even think about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I totally agree that many processed foods are addictive, and definitely more so for some people than others (which is why so many people can take or leave fast food, while others subsist on it).

                                                                                                                                                                                    As with any addiction, providing resources, education, prevention, and intervention options are very helpful, but it's still ultimately the addict's decision to make a change. I've been in recovery from heroin for over a decade and while the technicalities of narcotic addiction are very different from food addiction, essentially the actual addiction is the same (or so say 12 step programs and neurologists).

                                                                                                                                                                                    While it might be easier for, say, a crackhead to go "Oh yeah, the crack is definitely not good for me" than someone to see the harm in a few dogs at Wienerschnitzel, I still think it's up to each individual to admit that they are addicted once they see the negative effects of their drug of choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm still wondering if you've come across people who had no idea their diet was affecting their health poorly?

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm also curious then how their food addiction is being helped. Is it just education that is making a difference? I'm genuinely curious. I've sat in on a few OA (overeaters anonymous) meetings, and they believe the path to recovery is through a spiritual program, just like AA. They believe that food addiction (compulsive overeating, compulsive exercising, anorexia, bulimia) comes from a spiritual deficit--a "god-shaped hole" that they are trying to fill with food/lack thereof. I should also add I've never met a compulsive overeater who binge eats fruits and veggies--typically it's all fast food, junk food, sugar, etc. so I think we are talking about the same population.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                      "I'm still wondering if you've come across people who had no idea their diet was affecting their health poorly?"

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes many people have no idea. They don's even ponder the fact that the beef hamburger might not even be beef but some amalgam of other food products. There's a reason fast food restaurants are so successful, they exploit this fact. Also when people do know, I agree it's up to the individual but food is different from drugs in that you need to eat. It's sort of like treatment for eating disorders, similar issues but you have to confront it repeatedly. I'm not saying recovery from heroin isn't difficult, it is extremely difficult and requires a full faith committed effort but like alcohol it's not a necessity. Food is and so you encounter your demon all day long. Also food addiction hasn't been "demonized" like drug addiction so the incentive to quit is different. It's not illegal to be addicted to food, you don't get arrested, you aren't stigmatized. Our food system has created this issue which is why I mentioned before I spend much of my free time helping to educate people about these issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                      "I should also add I've never met a compulsive overeater who binge eats fruits and veggies--typically it's all fast food, junk food, sugar, etc. so I think we are talking about the same population."

                                                                                                                                                                                      Fruits and vegetables haven't been designed to be addictive. Much processed and fast food has been. Food industry spends billions on this and it is quite successful.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                        Say what you will about Al Roker but he basically stated what you so eloquently did. When he talks about his food addiction he always talks about how you can't use many of the tools used by those with drug or alcohol addictions because you "always need to eat". You can't empty your house of food, surround yourself with friends who don't eat, etc. He had to change his whole relationship with food and ultimately resorted in having weight loss surgery.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately the two people I know who had similar surgeries ended up trading one addiction for another. Food addiction does not have the same stigma or consequences and therefore (in their cases) it was hard to find therapists equipped to handle their issues with food. In their cases they didn't fix their heads, they didn't get to the root/reason for the addiction so they found other way to self medicate.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The whole thing is very sad.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                          Kudos to Al Roker. Like you said, just having the surgery isn't going to "fix" you unless you make other changes. He has kept his weight off for quite a while now, and seems to have made huge lifestyle changes.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I've known a few people who had gastric bypass and gained all the weight back for the same reasons as you listed. It was a huge mental fuck. Then I have a friend who is over 600 lbs who was told he was way too large for surgery. He's taken the initiative finally to make some minor changes in his diet and just walk up and down the driveway a few times per day and he's lost 120 lbs in 6 months! I think he is trying to get down to a safe enough weight for bypass. It will be so amazing to see him at a healthy weight; he's been obese his entire life and has never known any different.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                            I spent a month in the surgical weight loss clinic in med school, 90% gained it all back and more within 2 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi fidhkybvna,

                                                                                                                                                                                              <...90% gained it all back and more within 2 years.>

                                                                                                                                                                                              I've had weight loss surgery, and among the people I know that kind of regain just didn't happen. Of course, that's a very small sample. It made me wonder, so I looked it up and found the following from NIH:

                                                                                                                                                                                              "Long-term follow-up data are available, in some cases up to nearly two decades [10]. Weight loss averages 65% for most patients with over 85% of patients losing and maintaining 50% initial excess weight loss."

                                                                                                                                                                                              Those numbers refer only to lap-RnY, the most common form of weight loss surgery. They're worse for band surgeries and slightly better for biliopancreatic diversion w/duodenal switch.

                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

                                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps it seemed like the numbers were as bad as they seem to you because you saw a lot of do-overs? That's not uncommon with lap-band. At least, that's my recollection from the scuttlebutt among the patients.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                            Deleted. Said some things I didn't mean, and I apologize if anyone read that and was offended.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                    Lol! I agree, didn't mean to imply that some sugar/fat is bad for you, because it's not. Cookies are not evil, but they should be eaten in moderation. I think a cookie is far better than a meal from McDs. But even that is okay once in a while IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I remember when I was a kid, McDs was a treat that we got only occasionally. Not as a hurried meal because mom didn't have time to cook, but rather after we had to go in for our annual shots before school started. Mom would stop on the way home with all of us crying and get us each a Happy Meal. And we were to sit at the table and eat it slowly and thoughtfully, not stuff our faces in the back of the mini van.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Fast forward to my late teens/early 20s where I was on my own for the first time and not too great in the kitchen (and also broke--working full time and school full time at night). I often would eat fast food on my lunch/dinner breaks, or before heading to class, since I had approximately 15 minutes of free time each day and lacked the foresight to pack lunch and dinner before leaving my apartment in the morning. So I fell into a pattern of eating fast food A LOT and it made me feel like utter shit.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've always been thin, and back then had a thyroid disease which made food go through me quickly. Despite not gaining an ounce eating that way, I couldn't stand how hollow and "dirty" eating fast food made me feel. Occasionally I'd cook up elaborate meals and bring them into work (which back then was in a tattoo shop!) and the guys would eat lasagna and roasted veggies and roasted chickens with me like they hadn't had real food in ages either. It did not take long for me to connect the dots that real, clean foods made me feel so much better. It was a hop, skip, and a jump, and suddenly I was a vegan eating little to no processed flour/sugar ever. That was the healthiest I've ever felt.

                                                                                                                                                                                    It's not easy to eat that way all the time, and I don't think it's realistic for most people, especially not children. But I was working some 12-14 hours at the tattoo shop, plus 3-4 hours of school most nights, and if I had the time to do it, so does anyone. I have to think it's just laziness and an unwillingness to reach outside of one's comfort zone.

                                                                                                                                                                                    As to the whole smoking thing--I still smoke, despite knowing it's bad for me. I also would not get all "WHOA IS ME" if it started to severely impact my health. Just like I wouldn't act like a victim if I were an alcoholic and found out I had liver damage. Just like if I ballooned to 350 lbs and got diabetes, I wouldn't be like "Oh what on earth could have caused this??" nor would I blame it on advertising or the fast food industry. One does not get lung cancer overnight, one does not get cirrhosis overnight, and one does not become obese with type 2 diabetes overnight. It is literal YEARS of overindulgence, and there are so many opportunities along the way to stop and rethink how you live your life.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I tend to agree with DuffyH about the "willful blindness." My mother has struggled with her weight for many years now, and while it's partly due to her own thyroid issues, I also see that no matter how hard she tries to diet, she inevitably reaches for junk food and Diet Coke throughout the day as if on autopilot. Eliminating just soda for one month lost her 30 lbs recently. But she chose to pick it back up, and gained the 30 lbs back within a couple weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Similarly, I recall my father giving someone a heart transplant a few years ago. This person had been a chronic alcoholic and drug addict. Prior to the transplant, my father and his team required this person to abstain 100% from drugs and booze and cigarettes with random drug testing and all that. This person begged and begged for the heart, as he would die without it. So after however many months of sobriety, they went ahead and bumped him up on the list and gave him the heart. That guy went not even 2 months post-surgery before he started doing cocaine and drinking again. The transplant failed and he was back in the hospital on a waiting list for a new heart. This time though, the transplant committee thought it best to give their hearts to people who wouldn't abuse them, and who were willing to put the work in to keep this blessing of a medical gift. How many people probably died because that guy got the heart is maddening.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                      That is a major diet shift and really amazing.
                                                                                                                                                                                      MickyD's was a treat as a kid for me too.
                                                                                                                                                                                      That said, we were allowed sweets and sort of policed ourselves.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I remember my friend next door would come over and go berserk with our cookies. I'd parcel out a few for me, and because her mother controlled their food and sweets, she'd eat like there was no tomorrow!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                        I had a neighbor who did the same thing! His parents were into the organic, non-processed, gluten free, no sugar thing decades ago. This kid would come over "to play" and we'd find him in the pantry with boxes of sugary cereal around him. He'd literally eat himself sick in there.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The nanny found him a few times when she hadn't let him in. He would sneak in through the back door to eat Lucky Charms.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's like that mayor in Chocolate- went crazy and wound up in a chocolate-covered, chocolate coma.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                  But I'm just curious--I can't imagine ANYONE in this day and age not knowing that eating fast food is bad for you. Or that tons of fat and sugar can lead to diabetes or obesity.
                                                                                                                                                                                  __________________

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, and?

                                                                                                                                                                                  A typical tasting menu meal at, say, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Rogue, or Benu, etc. would easily dwarf the caloric and glucose content of a typical fast-food meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                    What is your point?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Firstly, I doubt anyone would be eating a tasting menu at any of said restaurants on a regular (several times per week) basis. Secondly, there are plenty of obese people who eat at upscale restaurants or are wealthy, so I'm not sure what you're getting at.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I believe fldhky works mostly with lower income folks, which is why I was talking more about fast food and convenience foods versus high end dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                      I would agree with you, but I've seen too much evidence to the contrary. A lot of people's palates are in their wallets (from necessity or mindset) and can't bring themselves to have a nice Japanese rice bowl when they could have a triple cheeseburger and fries and it would COST LESS than the fast food rice bowl, so that's what they eat.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                      I absolutely agree with having food handy when I want it. My problem with this concept isn't dinner, it's lunch. For some reason, lunch is a PITA for me. I'm not a big sandwich eater, which is fine in colder weather (Hello, Campbell's) but can suck in summer. A salad can leave a mess that takes almost as long to clean up as it does to eat. Fruit is a snack, not a meal. You get the picture.

                                                                                                                                                                      I'll just be honest; I jones for Mexican food. At lunchtime, that means tacos and burritos. The rest of the menu is dinner food. So I try. I usually keep some kind of seasoned beef, chicken or pork in the fridge, ready for Taco Emergencies. And refried or black beans, check. Tortillas? Always. But again, between hauling stuff out, heating it, assembly and cleanup, I can be exhausted by the time my meal is readily. Especially if I've got to fry up some tortillas.

                                                                                                                                                                      So I'm pretty happy to hop in the car and run for the Border. Or Moe's. Tijuana Flats is ok, too. Open a Rubio's in Tampa? I'll never make my own lunch again.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like you live in a car dependent neighborhood. One of the measures of a pedestrian friendly neighborhood is restaurants within easy walking distance.

                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.walkscore.com/WA/Seattle/C...
                                                                                                                                                                        Capitol Hill, Seattle, walk score 90
                                                                                                                                                                        "People in Capitol Hill can walk to an average of 23 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in 5 minutes."

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                          You are exactly right, paulj. We live in a college town of 30,000 people, that has a lovely and active downtown square packed with restaurants and coffee shops.
                                                                                                                                                                          We don't live downtown, though. We live on the edge of town on a lake - it's just three miles from the middle of town, but even the closest restaurant on the way there would be a good half hour walk on several streets with no sidewalks.
                                                                                                                                                                          I've always thought it would be so cool to live in the middle of a city, as you've described Capitol Hill. When we visit our daughter and her family who live in the oldest part of Philadelphia, we walk everywhere, eat takeout or go to a restaurant for every meal. That's fun for a few days, but we are so relieved to get back home to our own cooking when vacation is over.

                                                                                                                                                                          BTW, I checked. Our walk score here is 14. A few miles away, on the town square, it's 82.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I work from home. Some days, if I didn't go out for lunch or dinner, I'd never leave the apartment.
                                                                                                                                                                        When I worked from an office, I could walk to a half-dozen reasonable cafes, so had lunch out every day. And then dinner out w/ my family once a week.
                                                                                                                                                                        Don't get me wrong. I like to cook. It's even part of my current business. But there was that period of time when my kids thought that all I ever consumed, when they weren't around, was microwave popcorn, frozen yogurt, coffee and wine.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I've lived here for years and not a single (or married) person I know cooks. I've worked at many places and they all knew I cook because of the lunches I would bring to work. Got lots of comments like, where's ours? Haha, I work here for money. It's not a restaurant. Anyway, I literally know hundreds of people who only eat out, microwave, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          It seems that many women find the idea of cooking for their families demeaning. Like they've taken a step back in time or something. I'm a woman and I don't feel that way. But, for some reason, many do.

                                                                                                                                                                          Because people knew I cook they would always run up to me to tell me about the meal they cooked the night before. For most that happened once every two months or so. Also, most people would complain about how expensive it is to cook at home. Think about it. If you only cook a meal every two or three months... all those pantry items, or perishable items go bad or you don't use them again. So you've blown a lot of dough for one meal because you don't ever use up the rest of the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                          It blows my mind too. Just walking through the grocery store blows my mind. The majority of items are pre-packaged / pre-made meals. Miles of it. The dried bean section is only about 6 feet across. The frozen food section is several 30 foot aisles.

                                                                                                                                                                          I cook for many reasons. I like to, number one. It's creative. It's a way to learn about other cultures and 'travel' without leaving my house. It's healthy and I know what's in my food. But, it is a lot of work for someone who did not grow up in a cooking household. I've seen people struggle with trying to start cooking and the biggest thing I think is menu planning. The shopping part is the hardest. And stocking up on pantry items is hard for a lot of people. Mentally...

                                                                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: thymetobake

                                                                                                                                                                            6 ft of dried beans! Wow, you must live in an ethnically diverse neighborhood. I bet your Grandmother only knew about 1 or 2 kinds, which she scooped from a barrel. :)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't live in an 'ethnically diverse' neighborhood. I live in a small town (so small that we've only had a grocery store for 5 years) and the store I'm speaking about (not the one in our little town) is a 30 minute drive away. It is HUGE. Walking through it is a marathon event. Yes, we are ethnically diverse here - in the metropolis as a whole. But it is in pockets. Self segregating, if you will...

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: thymetobake

                                                                                                                                                                              "It seems that many women find the idea of cooking for their families demeaning. Like they've taken a step back in time or something. I'm a woman and I don't feel that way. But, for some reason, many do."

                                                                                                                                                                              ~~~~~

                                                                                                                                                                              my b/f says this about his ex. they had 3 children, she was a stay-at-home mom and he traveled a lot for work. even though her "job" was sahm, she didn't feel that meant she should have to cook. dinner for the kids was often cereal or take-out pizza. if he was home and wanted a meal he had to make it for himself. that meant plenty of grilling.

                                                                                                                                                                              he thought he'd died and gone to heaven when he tasted my food, lol.

                                                                                                                                                                              why, in this day and age, there is a value judgement on who cooks so the children can eat decently is beyond me.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                <why, in this day and age, there is a value judgement on who cooks so the children can eat decently is beyond me.>

                                                                                                                                                                                The sad truth is that working at home, whether for pay or not, is valued less than work outside the home. I recall that when my bro sold his small software company (run from home) and took an outside job offer, Mom told me he finally got a "real" job. I swear, those were her words. "Real job." About a 60+ man who supported his family and sent 5 kids to college with his "fake" job.

                                                                                                                                                                                I think this may be one of those things that is changing over time, as each new generation comes of age. We can only hope.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                  Nope, it's still a problem. I worked from home for a whole lot of years before I got married to a man who also works from home. His parents are finally sort of getting it now - we're in our mid-40s - but they still worry that he doesn't have enough steady work or that he doesn't make enough money. If he were an employee, though, he'd be making a lot less and there'd still be no guarantee of job stability.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, but that's his parents, it's not you. This is what I meant by getting better with each generation. Social norms and values change over time. People took pity on us because we were latch-key kids, until we moved to a different area, where working moms were more the norm. Now latch-key kids are common and no thinks it's odd.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Eventually, when working at home is more common, and seen as desirable, it will be valued. I have enduring faith in the adaptability of mankind.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                      Except we get plenty of this same sort of attitude from people our age and people younger than us. These people seem to think we have all the time in the world on our hands to do whatever they want whenever they want at no cost to them since, after all, it's not like we really work ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                      And the younger generation seem to think that the only way to have a real career is to have a "real" job. They don't want even a job working for a company where they get to work from their own home and never have to meet in person or attend meetings. We've encountered this attitude so much.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                    thank you! i am currently in the process of launching my own startup, and i constantly find myself fighting feelings of being a "faker" without a "real" job just because someone else didn't hire me. you're so right!

                                                                                                                                                                                    to keep this about food - a major perk of working from home is the ability to cook in the office ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                    Agree with all that.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Although I've worked from home on and off for years now and no matter how busy I am with a project, it is MUCH easier to get homemade meals on the table than when you're commuting to work. Anyone who says otherwise is nuts. Just 5-10 minutes of food prep at some point during the day that you wouldn't have if you were at the office is enough to stick a roast in the oven, put a pot of soup on, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't get the attitude of SAHMs (or dads) who think it's beyond them to make dinner. Even if they suck at cooking or think it's beneath them, you'd think they could suck it up for the sake of their SO and at least prep everything (wash/chop veggies, marinate meats, preheat the oven, etc.) so food can be ready in a timely matter. I'm sure it's hard with little ones running around, but I know plenty of SAHMs in their 20s with multiple kids who are able to put 3 homecooked meals on the table every day, clean, do laundry, plant veggie gardens, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Although maybe some kids are just assholes and it's impossible to do anything else when caring for them, I dunno.

                                                                                                                                                                                  4. re: thymetobake

                                                                                                                                                                                    I learned to cook and became pretty damn good in the days before I met DH. My cooking was part of what drew him to me. Now, 27 years later, I'm a little burned out. I went through phases where I was cooking for him and because he was a wildland firefighter, and may not come home for a week or two-before cell phones, BTW. I made from-scratch mindblowing dinners all year long for about 15 years, including a couple of years where I went to my dad's house every night after work and made him dinner because he had dementia, And I had a two year old to pick up from day care and take with me to dad's, he was usually good with Andy but not always. Then I took the kidling home and made him dinner, and then dinner for us. I continued to make fabulous dinners after work every day because I was so into food, but a) I gained at least 70 pounds, and b) I rarely if ever got a thank-you from DH.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Young son and DH have become better cooks on account of my not cooking. And I've lost weight, having embraced the 'eat dinner like a pauper' theory. They're grown men and good cooks. I love cooking but I've been through the wringer and I'm not as into it as I used to be, practically, although I love reading about it

                                                                                                                                                                                  5. I'm to poor not to cook. I long ago figured out that pre-cooked meals, even the 'good' ones cost way more then buying ingredients and cooking for myself. I usually cook one big meal and it last for three days. Which I like. With the cuts in food stamps. It's so much easier to buy frozen veggies and some chicken thighs. Also having no job means I can't go out.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Besides that I find cooking relaxes me and it's a great creative outlet. I get excited going to grocery shopping discovering new foods and cuisines. I guess it's not the same for other people. My Grandma cooks, my Mom cooks my Dad cooks even my Stepdad cooks. I guess it's what your brought up with and what you love to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: YAYME

                                                                                                                                                                                      Lots of people tell me they're too poor to "eat healthy" but they blow so much money on Starbucks and fast food that I could buy a car with that money and still eat cheap!
                                                                                                                                                                                      It may be my habit of only buying marked-down foods (maybe gross but I can judge whether something is spoiled and my kids eat truckloads of food!) but I can't imagine being able to afford eating out 90% of the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: iheartcooking

                                                                                                                                                                                        I look for good buys were I can. I don't buy grapes when they are $2.99/lb and a bag of grapes inches near $10 but I will spend money on good ingredients knowing I'm eating way cheaper than going out to an even modest restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I can serve a beautiful meal for $5-7 a plate which would cost $18-25 in a restaurant. Yeah I know there is a cost for my time to shop and drive, prep and cook, but I like food shopping so the hunt is part of my enjoyment as well as the prep, (I get use use my knives) and the cooking and creativity in making the meal. I understand it's not everyone's bag so understand the other side

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Gloria Steinem allegedly lived in a Manhattan town house/apartment for 5 years before realizing the oven did not work...

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Few of my coworkers cook. I'm involved in a few programs with adults and children regrading fitness and nutrition and it's astounding how few people know how to even boil water. I think this is pretty common.

                                                                                                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                          I can understand that if you know absolutely nothing about something like cooking, you would have a problem figuring out where to even start.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yup! Unfortunately the generation of which I am a member is the first that has had the option to grow up completely on processed food and have no conception of a kitchen. One day, and one person at a time I'm committed to changing this.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                              I doubt if your generation is all that unique. There have always been people who didn't have (much) cooking equipment or space, and who relied on others for food and its preparation. Boarding houses used to be quite common. Wealthy families depended on servants to do the cooking. I bet that half to 2/3 of the population at any one time didn't cook (going as far back as Roman days).

                                                                                                                                                                                              Modern appliances make it much easier, and safer, to cook in a home, apartment or even dorm room. In my undergrad years my only cooking gear was an immersion heater and beer mug. 25 years later my son was improvising half of his meals in his dorm room (and the kitchenette down the hall).

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                Except that it's only been in recent decades that you could find a bazillion products in a box, can or jar to heat and eat. Yes, I realize many have never learned cooking skills throughout eternity but only recently have people literally been able to eat everything out of a box and not even have to consider cooking anything or using anything other than a microwave. It's not the difference of not cooking for yourself but the idea of food having to be cooked at all. Yes, servants might have cooked food but you realized it had to be cooked rather than bought directly from a store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't see the difference, really. You're clearly passionate about home cooked meals and that's a good thing. But someone else's passion may be directed to an equally worthwhile goal, and be perfectly content to cook nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's becoming much easier now to eat a well-balanced diet with processed foods than it used to be. We have IQF foods that make a huge difference, and that's just one example. I'm not suggesting that this is what most people do, but that's their choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm speaking of Cheetos now IQF fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Whatever. There have always been snack foods and candies. Even before microwaves and TV dinners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I thought that by "bazillion products in a box, can or jar to heat and eat" you meant the plethora of pre-packaged meals and quick foods, like nukable meals and all the "add water" stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Still, even Cheetos are food. If someone want to live on them, it doesn't bother me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was referring to that as well. Microwave lasagna, microwave Lean Cuisine. I was being sarcastic but Cheetos are included. I never said it bothered me but the fact that people don't know how to cook when they would like to but just never were exposed to it any point in life to develop the skills is what bothers me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, that's different. We've gone from people who don't know how to cook to people who want to but don't know how. Completely different animal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                            But not everyone knows that they would like to know because they have no conception of the idea of cooking. It's not completely different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                    People are funny. My late aunt, who home-canned her fruits and veggies and made her own hand-kneaded bread every morning, was enamored of boxed Betty Crocker Au Gratin potatoes. It was the only convenience food I ever saw at her house, but she loved them dearly.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. My girlfriend and I cook dinner 3-4 nights a week and that's the most out of any of our circle of friends and coworkers. I know many people who use their ovens for storage.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Our work hours skew later here in NYC than the rest of the country so many people do not get home until well after 7. The lack of time, no dishwashers in many apartments, no storage space to buy bulk groceries, and inexpensive take out make not cooking a pretty logical choice for many.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. When we moved into this duplex the oven was broken and the landlord didn't know anything about it... so obviously the previous tenant never used it and relied on the microwave. I find that mind-boggling on its own. (they fixed it for us, we insisted. I couldn't live without an oven!)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                                                                                  When a friend put her house up for sale, the realtor told her she had to have the oven fixed before the sale (it had been dead for years). Her 2 young sons never had a homemade cookie! When I took over a batch, you'd have thought I gave them gold. Altho' she moved to a house with a working oven, I still doubt she ever used it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. This topic is an oldie albeit goodie because it's so polarizing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have posted about my friend who doesn't cook and has no qualms about it. She is raising a very active, healthy and talented athlete. Their typical meals look like this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Breakfast: granola, fruit, yogurt along with the occasional frozen/organic/whole grain waffle or pancakes. On the weekend her husband or son might make scrambled eggs or French toast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lunch: she eats a yogurt with fruit, her husband gets take out. Her son gets school lunch. In the summer her son might eat a sandwich, grab a sub on the go or the dad might grill burgers or dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dinner tends to be lots of salads with precooked protein or tuna, take out meals from Whole Foods or a locally speciality store. Summer time the dad does a lot of grilling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  They probably eat at least one meal a week at our house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And as I have posted before she is the most present and hands on mom I know. Her family probably eats better than some Moms I know who cook every meal. Being able to cook is not required to be a great parent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I remember you posting about her before. From the sound of it though, she has put some thought and consideration into making her "no-cook" meals healthy and well-balanced, and it'd be hard to find any issue with that. She's not tossing her kids Hot Pockets for 2 meals a day, or bags of chips and soda.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thats my point. Just because one "can't cook" doesn't mean they don't care about being healthy and taking care of their families. I'd rather a parent be an active parent who doesn't cook than one who does but lets the TV watch the kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't cook. I don't know how and I am not interested in learning. When I am at home, I'll eat cereal, fruit, nuts, raw veggies, or nothing at all for dinner, maybe some juice or green tea. For lunch, I'll eat takeout at the office or lunch somewhere. For breakfast I'll have fruit and/or cereal. I go out for dinner a few times a week, on work matters or with Auntie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think Auntie knows how to cook. She's never cooked for me since we've known each other. She seems to have a pretty balanced diet, though, as she's always eating all these vegetables and protein and such. I think it's mostly her own concoctions from stuff she purchases at the local high-end supermarket. But she certainly doesn't use the oven or the stove. The gas meter reads 0001, same as it did when we had it installed 4 years ago. On the other hand, her mother is a world-class cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      And for the record, we love to eat and consider ourselves highly evolved food people. My only crap vice is Popeye's chicken at the airport, maybe once or twice a month. Haven't eaten at a fast food chain in decades (except Popeye's), and have never eaten "foods" out of the frozen section of the supermarket, except ice cream, and even then we'll stick to the local small shop instead of the global brands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. My SIL does not cook. She and my brother have been married almost 43 years and have no children. The first 30 years they lived in NYC and ate out 21 meals per week. They don't drink coffee and their refrigerator was always full of cold beverages and take home leftovers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      They moved to CT 13 years ago. Breakfast is cold cereal and milk, OJ or asst store bought salads (chicken, shrimp, seafood, etc) served on crackers or bagels. Lunch and supper is takeout, delivery or eat out. They buy cooked chickens at Costco or Shop-Rite to feed the dog. Once a month, my brother will boil up a pound of pasta and it will be served with a quart of sauce purchased from a neighborhood red sauce Italo-American restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the 13 years they live here in Connecticut I have been served only two meals that were cooked in their home. For both of their 65th birthdays a caterer was hired to come cook and serve dinner for friends and family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm thinking about this more, and I think the thing that really irks me is like--what do you do when you're sick or snowed in or whatever and you need something to eat NOW? What would these people do if there was some natural disaster and they were stuck in their home for 2 weeks with no restaurant delivery?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just can't wrap my head around not being able to meander into the kitchen and whip something up. A quick pasta with cheese and veggies, or grill some chicken and corn on the cob. Eating out for most meals honestly sounds like torture to me. I guess that's why so many young men I know go nuts for home cooked meals and baked goods. They always say the same thing: "I miss this so much; I haven't had anyone cook for me since I lived at home with mom." There is something really special about a home cooked meal, and no matter the opinions on this thread, it is irreplaceable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Getting back to my friend-we were hit pretty hard from the aftermath of Sandy. Nothing like the folks in NJ but wide spread power outages, etc. She made due with PB&J, pasta with jarred sauce, cans of tuna, boxed Annie's and the like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I on the other hand lost vats of homemade chicken broth, grass fed beef, frozen meat sauce and stews and lived on similar foods as she did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I go camping, I use a lot more canned and boxed foods than I do at home. With simple cooking gear, and limited cooler space I can't fix anything fancy, and can't keep most leftovers. Lack of good dish washing options also limits my cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Many manufactured ready-to-eat foods were developed for travelers. One of my favorite camp 'breads' is pilot bread, a refined version of the old ship's biscuit and soldier hardtack. The L&C expedition in early 1800s had a supply of 'dehydrated soup mix'. Lead in the solder of early cans poisoned some Arctic expeditions. Pemican, parched corn and roasted barley are examples of pre-industrial prepared foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If the weather forecaster on the news says snow/hurricane, etc is coming they stock up on cooked/prepared foods at the supermarket. I've even seen my brother eat Chef Boyardee ravioli straight from the can during a power outage. Yecch.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            SIL has heart surgery (again) not that long ago, family and friends brought in meals. Their favorite restaurant sent 2 meals a week for three weeks as a get well (appreciates the untold thousands spent each year).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            It would be highly unusual for both to be so ill at the same time that one couldn't get food, or that we couldn't get to them. During the hurricane Sandy mess they lost power for 8 days, we did not lose power. After two days without power they simply moved into our guest suite. SIL never offered to help in the kitchen (where she would have broken things anyway) and they made their meal requests known as if in a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "and they made their meal requests known as if in a restaurant."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sorry but that made me laugh. Nothing like a natural disaster to bring out the selflessness in people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Many years ago (mid-80s), one of my first after-college roommates had never been taught to cook. We were in a small 4rth-floor walkup in Boston's North End. She loved all the local coffee shops, and got a cappuchino maker for her birthday. First time she tried it, she turned the burner on high (gas stove) and when it started making noise she panicked - really screaming. I ran into the kitchen, thinking something had caught fire, and just turned off the burner. She never tried to use it again. Another funny/sad story: she was always trying to lose weight. I'd often get home, and she'd say, "I was so good today! I only had a can of chicken for lunch!" I wondered, because there was never any canned chicken in the cupboards, but figured she was buying it on her way to work...until one day she handed me a can and asked me, "Is this chicken or tuna?" It was Chicken of the Sea. The really sad thing was that anything I made, she'd devour without thinking about calories, she must have been starving most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pasuga

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's a sad story, and it seems to be a good example of how everyone seems to have some aspect of their lives that they are just helpless to gain control of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I am a single lady living alone, and I do not cook, unless you're one of those who counts nuking a pre-packaged dish as 'cooking.' Do you know what it is I really hate about cooking? The dirty pots and pans. The clutter. The messy countertops. Just too much for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Dotyparx

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agreed! Cooking for one is a hassle. I much rather go out and have someone cook & clean up for me plus you get to interact with other people and don't have to eat salad & chicken breast three days in a row to avoid leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just to play devil's advocate. I cook for one every single day. I think it's up to personal preference of course. I'd much rather stay in than go out :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You're right of course. It's not a "one size fits all" opinion. When I was young and single I much preferred to be out an about. Now, not as much. Frequently dinner would be @ a bar in the neighborhood. My first apartment didn't have a dishwasher so I had to deal with the dirties after each meal too,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I was single, I looked forward to coming home and making dinner. For me, it's a good way to unwind. Nowadays, we are two empty nesters, and one or the other of us cooks daily.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do know people who say there's no point in cooking for "just the two of us", after years of cooking for a family. And that's okay for them. But the two of *us* think home cooked meals are worth the time and effort.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here too. My time cooking every night is usually the only down time I get in a day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We retired early, and now my whole day is down time, more or less. I cook, but it's not something I love to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And maybe that's the difference. It's all about perspective. You clearly love to cook. It's a way for you to unwind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I would guess that most cooks are closer to my model. It's something we sort of have to do that isn't always that bad, but given our 'druthers we'd let someone else do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So I totally get people who don't cook. I've said it before, when I win the big lottery, I'll have minions to do it for me. Until then, I'm a cook, so I want to do it the best I can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I've been trying to compose a ~short~ answer to this post for a while, and I've not posted any of them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, three cheers for a long-ish post!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In my experience, when people say they "don't cook," what they mean is that they never gather ingredients/ semi-raw stuff, and put things together following any recipe other than what might be on a box, carton, or can.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most of them probably make oatmeal, bacon and eggs, Hamburger Helper, pasta salad, cakes and muffins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                But when they talk to "US," they know we aren't speaking the same language, so they say they "don't cook."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some of them eat to live, but many many more appreciate a fantastic meal out as much or more than many Hounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Food is not their focus.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Something else is -- and that something else [with examples throughout this thread]-- may be raising wonderful children and maintaining a happy and healthy family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I bet if we were to hop over to the boards at Runners World or www.tastyfresh.com/ [Christian electronic dance music], we would read posts about the priorities of others vs. THEIR perceptions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't Yuck my Yum, even if it isn't food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I have not read the entire thread. I don't know any family who doesn't 'cook'. I suppose I might know some people who live this, but I am not aware of whom they may be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I was lucky. Although my mother did about 98% of the cooking, my dad could cook, just not complicated stuff. He grilled, did good with breakfast, and cooks for himself now that my mother is gone. He was a cook in the army back in the 50s. When his army unit was mustered, the question was asked if any of the men knew how to cook. Thinking he could get out of some extra duty, my dad raised his hand. He learned how to cook because my grandmother worked evenings cleaning an office building. She started dinner and my dad and his brothers finished cooking it for their father and the borders that were also living in the house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I think it's also worth noting that "not cooking" is hardly a modern phenomenon, particularly in poor urban environments. As far back as Ancient Rome, you had urban populations who lived in tiny accommodations with no cooking facilities, and ate exclusively from street vendors and markets. That food was not modern processed food, but it wasn't necessarily very good quality - adulterated ingredients, insanitary preparation techniques, unidentified meat, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the other end of the spectrum, wealthy people had staffs to cook for them, and never needed to go near a kitchen themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's a good point, tastesgood. Even Mrs. Brady had Alice to cook for her, and that was in the 70s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Didn't the Jetsons have food in pill form? But Rosie made drinks, didn't she? I believe she delivered George's martini in the title sequence, yeah?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Still, I've no doubt Rosie procured those food pills, leaving Jane free to pursue whatever Jane pursued. George, we know, did nothing but lounge about once he got home from the Sprocket factory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What Jane, and Judy pursued... was SHOPPING.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also Wilma and Betty. Remember Chaaaaarge IT! (Occasionally Fred and Barney too.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While not cooking isn't new, the idea of a fully stocked fridge, freezer and pantry from which we can prepare anything we want, any time we want, is rather new. We've kind of forgotten that before modern fridges and freezers, most people (women) shopped for only one or two days at a time. Aside from a cellar for a very few fruits and root veggies, the only chiller was a rather small icebox.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It depends on what is considered new. In my lifetime (let's just say 1960s and forward) my parents always had two refrigerators, a large freezer, cupboards full of boxed and canned foods, and shelves downstairs which was their pantry with enough food to last them for months. I think this might have been a product of their growing up during The Great Depression. The downstairs pantry also included hundreds of quarts of home canned products from my father's enormous garden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When thinking of new v. old in relation to ideas about how we live and what we do, I think that post-WWII is new.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fridges were invented much sooner, of course, but were costly, and to my knowledge, were out of reach for most consumers until the late 1940's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Side note - I apply this logic to myself, born in the 1950's. New is opposite to old, young is opposite to old. Post-WWII is new, therefore, I am young and shall always be thus. :-D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My grandparents got their first refrigerator in 1949. They won it in a raffle. My grandmother was quite excited so she save up enough money to buy an electric stove and they got rid of the combination kerosene/wood stove. I wish I had that stove now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My uncle had that 1949 Westinghouse refrigerator in his basement until the mid-80s. Just think of the electricity it gobbled up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                John E...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                local electric utilities both rented and sold electric appliance to get people to consume more electricity. They even subsidized builders to build all electric houses in the 1960s.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My parents both a house in 1969 that was 6 blocks from our former home. It had an electric range which my mother hated. She inquired about getting a gas stove and discovered the nearest gas line was our old house. It seems the local electric company financed the construction of this new neighborhood and the builder agreed not to have gas lines installed. My mother hated electric cooking so much that except for meals made on the gas grill, she did almost no cooking in that house. Three years later my parents moved to another house that had gas and mom resumed a full cooking schedule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember when I was a kid in the early 70s there were television commercials featuring Redi-Kilowatt telling us to leave our lights on because electricity was "pennies cheap".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't remember my grandmother complaining. She had electric ranges in both her kitchen and in the basement kitchen. She went straight from the wood/kerosene stove to an electric stove, so maybe she did not know what she was missing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  <My uncle had that 1949 Westinghouse refrigerator in his basement until the mid-80s. Just think of the electricity it gobbled up.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And think of the meals (memories) that came out of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Weekly vs. Daily shopping is also a city vs. suburb difference in Post WWII USA. Both sets of my grandparents lived in typical NYC 6 story apartment buildings. The kitchens were galley style, small with a 10 cubit foot refrigerator and narrow gas range.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was impossible to store a week's worth of perishable food for a family in that small a refrigerator. Food stores of all varieties were within walking distance and grocers delivered your order without charge. When grandma entertained the family on Thanksgiving or other cold weather holidays many items were kept cold on the fire escape.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The suburbs developed after WWII and were automobile dependent. Neighborhood stores were not in walking distance and most families had only one car. My mother got use of the car one day each week and had to do the entire coming week's shopping that day, and bring it home and fit it in the 17 cubit foot Refrigerator and the chest freezer in the basement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi bagelman01,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <Food stores of all varieties were within walking distance and grocers delivered your order without charge>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We had remnants of that in the 'burbs into the mid-60's. Dairy and bakery delivery trucks were common sights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  we also had
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Borden's Milk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dugan's Cake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Charles Chips
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fish Man
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Vegetable Man,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But Food Fair, First National and Grand Union all required a drive in the car and to bring the groceries home yourself.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The kosher butcher delivered our order every Thursday morning, let himself in the back door, came up the kitchen stairs and put the order in the fridge. Once a month a bill came in the mail.........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My Great grandmother had an Icebox, and there was a "Crick" where things were kept cool, too. Woodburning stove.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So far as I know, she never bought "food."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Her life was hardscrabble Appalachian.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Family hunted.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                She gardened and canned, had a cow and a flock of hens plus one rooster. Members of the community shared a pig.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                She got flour for the-biscuits-every-day from the mill, but I'm not sure where the grain for the flour originated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My grandmother's life wasn't much different, except after Mom was into high school she held a job at The Plant, and had an electric fridge, stove, and oven. Big garden.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pop worked at a Plant, had a car and a boat, and he hunted everything, so she cooked everything, from turtle to skunk to squirrel to bear to deer to turkey.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They rented freezer space somewhere [AT the Plant?] occasionally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I know a couple of people who don't cook. They heat up frozen or prepared meals or go out. One woman also doesn't like vegetables. Not surprisingly, her young daughter is an extraordinarily picky eater. The other woman's kid says sweet things to me like "Can I stay for dinner? I LOVE your food!", and then eats brussels sprouts, so it doesn't necessarily follow that non-cooking parents lead to fussy eaters, I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: P_penelope

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <it doesn't necessarily follow that non-cooking parents lead to fussy eaters, I guess>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good point. Just as parents who eat and cook a variety of foods can give birth to a picky eater. People come in endless variety. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm still trying to figure out what creates a picky eater, and even what a picky eater actually is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Growing up, I was the picky eater in the family. As adults, I am the only adventurous one. Puzzling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You know, I'm not sure. I've been told all my life how picky I am, but I wasn't the one who blamed Dad for all the foods Mom wouldn't make (she didn't like them). I was also called the family garbage disposal. If others wouldn't eat it, I would. Which was I really? Picky or a Hoover? A Picky Hoover?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of my grandsons eats a huge variety of foods, especially considering he's 10. Sushi and salmon are two things that come to mind. He loves tossed salads. But he doesn't like mashed potatoes. And we shouldn't put new things he doesn't recognize into his favorite foods. Picky? Who knows?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can relate to that sentiment exactly Duffy... my sisters would throw Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, etc on my plate when my mom wasn't looking... but heaven forbid if you cooked the yolk of my sunny side egg too much... forget it! Inedible

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My grandson is fed a diet that's worrisome to me, boxed mac and cheese, chicken nuggets from the freezer, hot dogs, nary a green veggie to be found... his parents say "he won't eat" what they're having for dinner, but whenever he's with me, he eats pretty much whatever is in front of him
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      roasted chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pasta primavera with lots of veggies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      green bean salad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      they give him the option "do you want ------ or do you want us to make you a grilled cheese?"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So he always opts for the grilled cheese, or mac and cheese, or whatever
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that's not a picky eater...(that's bad parenting)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's interesting... growing up, my mother cooked one dinner and one dinner only. We were given a plate she made for us, and that was all we were going to get to eat that night. Eat it or go hungry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of course she would make adjustments within reason--like leaving onions off the kids' salads, or raw tomatoes for those who didn't like them, or putting sauce on the side of the chicken, etc. But there were no special meals being made. If I were given the option, I would have requested French fries and boxed mac'n'cheese nightly too! Instead it was steamed broccoli and meatloaf, or braised chicken, or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Like my dad always said "If she gets hungry enough, she'll eat it eventually."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I grew up in an affluent suburb where most/many of the mothers "don't cook" the wealthy scions of working class immigrants, self-made high income professionals or trophy wives whatever they just "don't cook" they have fabulous professionally designed kitchens with immaculate stainless appliances but cooking is seen as a chore - it goes along with cleaning - another thing they "don't do" - maybe they hobby garden but they definitely don't jackass manure around their yards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The claim to "not cook" was almost a brag - as in "I don't have to" takeout made big business around there - hell many of them did not even pack lunches for their kids ordering pre-made sandwiches from the gourmet grocery

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I suspect many of their kids - gen-x ers and millennials do cook - by necessity and through discovery of its pleasures - now though as a hobby and artistic pursuit not as a chore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                people who view cooking as a chore -(often people who don't much like to eat as well) will happily drop cooking for convenience food and takeout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My brother's wife brags about never cooking, but she's not in any of the groups you identified. Her entire life is devoted to putting her daughter in child beauty pageants, which she expects will make the girl an eligible trophy wife. At the bridal shower for my nephew's fiancée, SIL and her pageant mom friends were hooting in derision at the bride's enthusiasm for her gifts of cooking supplies. These women really believe they're doing their daughters a favor by prepping them for a life of luxurious idleness to be provided by some sugar daddy. They see cooking skills (and most other skills) as drudgery for chumps. Pathetic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MrsBridges

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Icky. I am sorry for your brother.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    EDIT: I am especially sorry for your niece.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Brother should have known what he was getting himself into. Niece had no choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: MrsBridges

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow, I though people like that only existed on reality TV. Takes all kinds, I guess...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: medrite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        there had to have been pageant moms before there could be a show about them, ya know? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. About 30 years ago I had a roommate who was constantly on a diet and could only steam vegetables, she'd throw some tofu over them to melt for protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Almost daily, she'd tell me, "I was so good today, I only had a can of chicken for lunch!" Never saw canned chicken in the cupboards, but figured she bought it on her way to work, until one day she handed me a can, and asked, "Is this chicken or tuna?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It was Chicken of the Sea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There was a weekend when I'd made a vegetable/pasta salad with Caesar dressing and put it in the frig, then went out for the day, when I got home at midnight, she'd eaten the entire thing. (A pound of pasta!) She must have been starving most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pasuga

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Haha, that's really funny

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How do you melt tofu???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've never done it, but remember her draining the broccoli or cauliflower, and throwing the veggies back in the pot, with a handful of tofu cube. Remember making dinner one night, and giving her steamed broccoli with lemon and a pat of butter. Her eyes got big, and she said, "I didn't know it could taste this good!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My mother was actually proud of the fact that she did not cook. She blamed her parents for not teaching her, but its not like she ever picked up a cookbook and tried to learn. My grandparents were both great cooks, old school Italian. They fed us every night until they weren't up to cooking much anymore, and then it was Lean Cuisine or cold cuts until I figured out how to make a few easy dinners. I like being in the kitchen and I always host the holiday dinners: it never fails that at each dinner she throws passive-aggressive zingers at me for cooking a nice meal ("Well, you certainly prepared a fancy meal. Not that I would EVER have chosen to spend my time doing that, but I suppose you're not like me."). Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My fiance's family "does not cook" which confused me at first because their fridge is stocked with milk, cheese, juice, yogurt, fruit cups...They also have a lot of Lean Cuisine-type meals in the freezer, but I think it's more accurate to say that they snack at home but do not really cook there except for special occasions. They eat take-out and fast food or go out for most meals, and I think most of the family only eats lunch and dinner, no breakfast. They also tend to skip meals or have long gaps between them. I've learned to bring a few snacks with me when I visit so I don't go crazy from not eating at regular intervals. Fiance has eaten this way most of his life, and it's still sort of odd to him that I cook dinner almost every night and prepare most of our breakfasts and lunches, though he appreciates it greatly!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: hotpie0523

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I cannot imagine not ever cooking, although I know a handful of people who live on hummus, veggies, and take-out meals. There are nights when I'm too tired to cook and will go out or order take-out, but there are just as many nights when I am the only one eating dinner and will cook an entire meal for myself, with leftovers for the rest of the family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If it were just me, I'd likely restrict my cooking to breakfast, because toast, bacon/egg or oatmeal is so easy. I'd keep cooked chicken on hand for Mexican dinners and salads, too. I could easily cook enough chicken in one evening to last for a week, making it possible for me to do quasi-cooked dinners. Maybe I'd make some tomato sauce so I could throw it on some pasta from time to time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mostly, I'd eat a lot of canned soup, salads and the very few frozen things i like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would say that isn't cooking, even though a lot of it meets the dictionary definition of cooking. I think this is what a lot of people mean when they say they don't cook. They usually mean they don't cook usually from scratch, and don't cook much stuff with a long list of ingredients. They do eat out a lot, or eat a bowl of cereal, a sandwich, or nuke a bag of popcorn and call it dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I’m 24 and rarely cook or eat out. I have an eating disorder and am very intimidated by savory foods. So I mostly snack throughout the day. I love granola and almond milk for breakfast. Fruit, vegetables, yogurt, oatmeal, sandwiches, etc. comprise snacks all throughout the day. Then dinner of course is a conundrum, but I like smoothies, salads filled with dried fruits and nuts, trail mixes, granola, super soggy bran cereal (don’t question it), and the like.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The few times I’ve tried to cook or bake for others, I’m extremely intimidated, first of all, by all the ingredients. If you don’t cook, it’s often difficult to start. Because, imagine: you have NO oil, flour, butter, seasonings, garnishes, sugar, shortening, baking soda, bread crumbs, etc. etc. etc.. not to mention pans, pots, spatulas, whisks, etc. It’s a big monetary commitment to decide to begin cooking!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My other problem with cooking is that I tend to eat half the ingredients during the cooking process, especially when baking, or I begin cooking when extremely hungry, have something to “tide me over” until I’m done, and then once I am done I’m not at all in the mood for what I’ve just made.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I would love to cook and create wholesome, nutritious meals. When I have a family I will definitely cook, at least for others. But there are tons of hurdles, mostly psychological, I admit. I just have to put in that cooking tends to work best for people who prefer meals over snacks and for people who LIKE all their food hot and cooked. I, for instance, will take soggy cereal or granola over any sort of egg or pancake or waffle breakfast any day of the week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FeeFee34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi FeeFee34,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Eating disorders are terrible things. I hope that someday you'll be able to overcome it. As you struggle, keep in mind that learning to cook, like all learning experiences, is best taken one small step at a time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When you decide that you want to begin to cook, pick something easy, with only a handful of ingredients and that you like. Oatmeal from scratch, or granola bars, would be a good place to begin. Or perhaps you'll make a salad dressing. Buy what you need for just that one recipe. Lay out everything you'll need and assemble all your ingredients before you ever begin. Measure out whatever you can. Read the recipe 3,4 or 5 times to become familiar with it. Then you'll be ready to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Most important of all, if you cook what you like, you'll never go wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Duffy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You phrased that very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I initially replied because I don't think the ONLY reason someone might not cook is because they don't know any better or because they're willing to waste money and lose quality by constantly eating out. It very much can be difficult to begin when you don't have tools and basics in your kitchen already. And there are drawbacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For me, I'd say the biggest deterrent is that things I prepare myself aren't portion sized. Let me give you an example: I eat Larabars daily. Larabars are nothing more than dates, nuts, other fruits, vanilla, and maybe cocoa or coconut. Larabars also run anywhere from $1.80 - $3 a piece, and I eat a few each day. So I decided to buy the raw ingredients, blend them up in my Magic Bullet, and form them into palm-sized balls that I could wrap up and refrigerate. ALL the dried fruit and nuts intended for a weeks' worth of homemade bars were gone within a day or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The same thing happened when I set out to make a simple blueberry muffin cake. About half the batter was gone before I put it in the oven, raw flour in the batter and all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The one preventative measure I can think is to have someone else in the kitchen with me so that I am less prone to thoughtless snacking. I think my #1 recipe should be some sort of granola bar, as I spend a lot of money on these myself, but so far I haven't found anything appetizing, including Alton Brown's recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FeeFee34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                FeeFee - I'm glad you posted, I can't speak for others, but on this forum and this thread in particular it's very easy for me to be smug and forget a perspective like yours and I need to be reminded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: FeeFee34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi FeeFee,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think it's a wonderful idea to have someone in the kitchen with you when you cook. Like most things in life, the fun factor increases when it's a shared experience. And the beauty of cooking with a friend is that if she's a good cook, she'll teach you. If she doesn't cook, you'll both have a hilariously good time because neither of you will have the first idea what you're doing. It's brilliant!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't give up on granola bars yet. Try googling "Larabar recipe". I did and got tons of good hits. I use hacked recipes all the time and have been really pleased with the quality of most of them. The flavors and textures can be spot-on. Some people are geniuses at reverse-engineering foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And hey? If you never cook? Well, there are worse things in life than not cooking. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Duffy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I started cooking at 15 because we were living in South America and I longed for certain familiar US foods and that was the only way I was going to get them. Later when I was married my husband was a student for 7 years and if I hadn't known how to contrive hearty soups and casseroles for no money we would have starved (or gotten divorced). Next phase, I was going to school, working, and raising children, and knowing how to multi-task- cook was an essential skill. In a while we were getting on in years and my husband was a heart patient---I know that my adaptive cooking made his last years more pleasant. Now I cook for just myself and that makes MY last years more pleasant. I simply do not understand the attitude of people who think it is cool or sophisticated not to cook. I worked in mental health---being able to take care of yourself is, like, Life 101. And it's also important to take care of the people you love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                <<being able to take care of yourself is, like, Life 101. And it's also important to take care of the people you love.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                While I agree with your sentiments you *can* take of yourself and others, lovingly and with great care and attention, while not being able to cook. Being a great spouse, partner, parent, caregiver is not based on being able to cook a homemade meal. To assume so is damaging and belittling to those who manage to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reporting on a sociology paper about the stress of preparing home-cooked meals

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://ctx.sagepub.com/content/13/3/2...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Abstract

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sociologists Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton offer a critique of the increasingly prevalent message that reforming the food system necessarily entails a return to the kitchen. They argue that time pressures, tradeoffs to save money, and the burden of pleasing others make it difficult for mothers to enact the idealized vision of home-cooked meals advocated by foodies and public health officials.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi paul,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for linking that article. The last paragraph really says it all for me. I cook lunch and dinner at home about 28 days a month. Most of the time it's a ho-hum, no big deal task. Nothing to get excited about. About 1/4 of the time I really fucking hate it. I get satisfaction from the taste and freshness of the food, not so much from the task of preparing it. It's my job, that's all. But those meals when the dude shares the work with me, that's when it's interesting and fun. I live for those.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Duffy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. It's plenty easy to eat without hardly cooking. Microwave for frozen stuff, steaming veggies, or cooking oatmeal. Lots of salads and fruit. Sandwiches. Yogurt. Mixed in with the occasional toast, scrambled eggs, or pot of boiling water, it's quite easy to eat well/simply/healthy (insert your choice of adjective here) without formal cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I didn't cook for about 2 years. My bf preferred to dine out, so we did. Now, we eat out consistently 1 time a week. He eats out most days for lunch. I eat at home since I am home. That being said, my microwave broke a month ago and we haven't even looked at replacing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: deputygeorgie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <<"...That being said, my microwave broke a month ago and we haven't even looked at replacing it.">>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. The grocery store - a haven for those of us who love to cook - is also a haven for those who don't cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Grab a rotisserie chicken, a mixed salad, a loaf of bread, a pint of something from the deli and you have dinner for four and possibly sandwiches the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn't always have to be frozen foods, restaurants, chips, or fast food anymore. Supermarkets are increasingly providing freshly made prepared foods. My Safeway has a bakery, a deli, pizza by the slice or pie, fried chicken, ribs, meatloaf, fried fish filets, a self-serve hot food bar with western dishes on one side and "Chinese" dishes on the other, a sushi bar that you can sit down at, a cold salad bar, an olive bar, made-to-order sandwiches, made-to-order salads, made-to-order breakfast items, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My dh used to say he could eat out every meal. He didn't know how to cook and didn't like the clean up. Now that he's learned he's usually the one that insists we stay home and cook ourselves. I have to say I love this change.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And yes he was raised by a mom tagt essentially had to work and do all the cooking herself, hates cooking, and took them out for fast food a couple times a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My Uncle never actually “cooked” a damn thing in his entire life (he’s mid 80’s now and in assisted living)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Never married – he lived with his mother who prepared all of his meals until she passed away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He retired early and his days then consisted of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wake up, eat a banana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Go to McDonalds for breakfast
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Go to the library to read the paper (he was cheap)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Go to the mall for his walk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Come home, have a yogurt with some fresh blueberries
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lift weights, watch some tv, take a nap
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wake up, go to the grocery store (Genuardi’s then when it opened near him Whole Foods) and get a prepared meal from their hot entrée selections
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bring it home, reheat in the microwave to eat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Read a book, watch some more TV and go to bed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wake up
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Repeat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So… yeah there’s a guy who “doesn’t cook”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I know many many people who don't cook. Several of my single friends never cook, and the only food they have at home is cereal and Diet Coke. And when I was single I didn't cook - I ate out or microwaved Lean Cuisines. So to me that does not seem strange. It's a lifestyle choice, and only affects the person who made the choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What always surprises me is families where no no one cooks. So many of my daughter's friends are amazed that I cook everyday, and say, 'My mom doesn't cook" or "My parents can't cook." I want to know - what do they eat???? How are these children surviving - on school lunches and Pop Tarts? I have tried to subtly pry to find out the answer: "So, what do you usually have for dinner at your house?" And the answer is usually pizza, whether takeout, frozen, or just pizza rolls that the kids microwave themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And then there is my daughter's boyfriends family - they eat out every night. Mom, dad, son, daughter, and often grandma, aunts, and assorted cousins will join them. The boyfriend told me that since his mom and dad work they don't have time to cook dinner. But they have time to drive 45 minutes one way to get to a restaurant! By the time they order and eat, that's about 2.5 hours - much longer than it would take to make spaghetti or grill chops and toss a salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I wish I could say that.