“Cooking requires confident guesswork and improvisation– experimentation and substitution, dealing with failure and uncertainty in a creative way.”
– Paul Theroux
6 things that happened when I cooked 75% of my own meals
This month I cooked two out of my three meals every single day. I also made some type of post-workout dish after the gym. Three-quarters of the food I ate, barring the odd snack, was prepared by me.
This might not sound that interesting or exciting, but it actually was. I learned a lot about cooking, saving money, eating healthy, and foreign culture.
Below are six of my observations as well as a great list of resources for different dishes that I enjoyed. Skip to the bottom if you’re looking for food ideas.
I have an irrational fear of accidentally causing a kitchen fire that kills everyone in my apartment complex. Old ladies, children, and even the friendly Schnauzer who lives two floors down. They’d all die because I couldn’t figure out how to program my crockpot.
Like spiders, heights, clowns, and other things people are terrified of this is a totally irrational fear. But it still caused immense stress for me.
At first I was really hesitant about making certain things but eventually I started to grow more comfortable in the kitchen.
While you might not be afraid of killing your neighbors, most people have a fear of incompetence. You might be self-conscious about going to the gym, starting a business, or talking to girls you like. Everyone dreads failure and most people will avoid going after what they want just so that they never have to risk getting shot down.
I didn’t kill anyone with my Swedish meatballs and you probably won’t die from whatever makes you nervous.
I was planning on getting my physique measured last week, but Halloween put a damper on doing so. The staff at Gold’s Gym who are specifically there to check your progress weren’t around whenever I went in.
Because of this I had to guesstimate my progress. Using compliments that I’ve received, as well as the snugness of my shirts, I can tell you that I’ve gotten quite a bit bigger. When I wasn’t cooking any of my food I lost a ton of muscle mass. Small shirts were almost too big for me.
Now I’m back up in weight and can comfortably squeeze into a medium size again.
3. More money for hookers and gambling
Eating out would cost you between $10 and $15 a day, if you only ate three meals a day at the cheapest places around. That might not sound like much, but it translates to $1,350 over the course of 90 days. A full year of cheap food would run you $5,400.
A year of eating white rice and bland chicken, that’s what the cheap places usually serve, would cost half as much as a two-bedroom apartment on the ocean with all utilities included.
When you start looking at things in terms of what you get out of them you realize how much money you’re wasting.
I went to the grocery store and bought a week’s worth of food for less than $50. Eating at home for a year would only cost $2,600. That’s a $2,800 savings.
Could you use an extra $3,000 a year?
4. My testosterone went through the roof (I think)
Using a very unscientific method, I was able to determine that my testosterone had gone up exponentially.
Eating steak and eggs, with a half-gallon of milk to wash them down, sent my energy levels skyrocketing. I’d jump out of bed at two in the morning and go run around for an hour. I also started lifting a lot more in the gym. And my sex drive reached the coveted level of “crazed weasel.”
I guarantee that a protein rich diet will change your energy levels tremendously.
Cooking is fun. Cleaning up and doing the dishes after you eat is not. I know there’s an old trope about lazy bachelors who never clean up after themselves, but that’s disgusting.
I’m big into keeping things tidy. I always make my bed, the apartment gets vacuumed at least once a week, and I never leave dishes in the sink.
Hand-washing plates and bowls might not sound like fun, but it helps to create a good habit. I never had to worry about rushing to clean stuff before company came over, and there was never a shortage of clean silverware.
Making your own food, and cleaning up after yourself, teaches you to take pride in your apartment. Far too many guys treat their places like pigsties. It’s disgusting and childish.
6. I learned more Spanish
When you’re overseas and shopping for butter, salt, coffee, and shrimp you’ll quickly learn the local language. Picking up items, looking at ingredients, and asking for certain material is far more engaging than some workbook or audio cassette.
I learned more Spanish words for food and cooking utensils in the supermarket than I did anywhere else.
Special bonus: Recipe resources
Here are some great resources that can help you find easy, and nutritious, meals to make.
7dollardinners: This is a subreddit that has some great, and cheap, ideas. If you’re just learning to cook, these are some pretty simple dishes to practice with.
Michael Kory’s YouTube channel: This guy had some solid post-workout dishes. I actually ended up making his chicken and fried rice recipe quite a bit.
Peruvian cookbooks that you can’t get in America: I bought two different books that can’t be found in the United States. And one of them is even written in English! I also snagged Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen: Authentic Recipes for Lomo Saltado, Anticuchos, Tiraditos, Alfajores, and Pisco Cocktails, which can be found in the United States. The other two are, in my opinion, a little more utilitarian, but Ceviche is a cool book too.
If you have some cooking resources you’d like to share, or questions that you want to ask, feel free to leave a comment.