There is food at home, and it’s probably better than fast food

The hustle and bustle of daily life leads many to believe that eating at home, or cooking is time-consuming. This causes them to order out, chipping away at their budgets, and at the same time, consuming foods that might not be the healthiest.

I have never been a big health nut. I am quite against calorie counting and different types of diets. Society pushes these ideals onto all of us that we need to be skinny and fit to live a good life and be desirable. Growing up, it was a recurring theme in my life, causing me to go on a strict diet to fit the stereotype and “feel better” about myself.

All that taught me was how much one can hate their own body, their own decisions and their way of being. From that dark place arose a never-ending love for food, but not just any food, the food has to be good, and seasoned correctly, and it has to spark my adventurous side.

As any good foodie would tell you, you need to cook to appreciate the flavor of others’ cuisine. Cooking is like a very twisted game of chemistry, you find yourself looking like a witch from a movie brewing potions, adding spices, making things smoke, and filling the room with smells.

I found solace and love in my pots and pans, I found myself cooking whenever I felt upset, stressed out or overworked. At first, the cooking was abysmal, all my chicken came out burnt or undercooked, my vegetable stews tasted like a salt mine had drained onto the pan, and my sandwiches were even coming out like something from a Sci-Fi movie.

None of that deterred me. I ate the crappy food I made and continued. Through YouTube and cookbooks, I slowly became better in the kitchen, no longer burning pans, and making simple, yet delicious dishes.

That’s all the motivation I needed, and it was the ever-changing economy that pushed me into the world of food. I found myself spending so much on takeout at work, that I knew something needed to change.

So I started simply: stews, pasta, soups and salads. I would spend my afternoons on Sundays cooking and jamming out to my Hispanic mom playlist, and I would pack all my lunches and bring them into the office on Mondays.

This soon became quite the attraction in the break room, the youngest member of the office constantly filling the office with delicious aromas. Everyone insisted my parents were cooking for me, but I reminded them that it was all me.

So was born Family Lunch Wednesday. Each of us would bring a plate, I was usually the main attraction, and shared it at the office. It became a thrilling experience. Every Tuesday, I challenged myself to come up with something bolder than the last time, something that would impress the moms who worked with me and earn me brownie points (of course this was for favors I would later request).

Yet that time came and went, a shitty job that paid a terrible salary came to an end, and a new adventure working from home began, but my love for the kitchen persisted.

I found myself with more time and space to cook what I wanted to eat. I found myself looking up recipes between meetings, and prepping the ingredients little by little. Soon enough, it became a habit: I would wake up every morning with nothing cooked and end with a freshly cooked home meal for lunch and dinner.

So I decided it would be interesting to show those aforementioned naysayers that cooking at home (at least as a person in their early 20s living at home with no kids) was easy and fun.

I knew that cooking didn’t take up too much of my time, but surely there was a way to show this. So over the last week, I timed how much it took me to prep, and then cook, my meals for lunch and dinner. I decided to skimp on breakfast since I typically wake up 30 minutes before my first meeting and my breakfast consists of a double-shot of espresso and buttered toast.

I was surprised to see that my prep time was usually around the same. I would often lose myself in my time as I would prep a little bit here and there throughout the morning, and I didn’t realize how much time I spent prepping.

I would start a timer on my phone, and stop it when I headed back to my desk. Once I had all the ingredients prepped, I would write down the time and start a new timer to see how long it took me to cook what I was going to eat.

This did not surprise me, as I have often found myself cooking hour-long stews and soups, the time it took me to make simple meals was to be expected.

I do realize, of course, that not everyone has the same amount of time and flexibility to be able to do this. I can tell you that I have saved thousands of dollars on food since I started to cook at home. Two bi-weekly trips to Costco are much cheaper than your everyday Postmates.

I hope that everyone can take the chance to cook for themselves, maybe not every day, but at least once in a while, to see how beautiful and tasty the experience can be.

Jonathan Casaverde Maimon is a senior majoring in Digital Communications with a track in Digital Journalism as well as a minor in International Relations. When they graduate, they plan on obtaining a master’s in political communications and continuing to work in Washington DC.