Hooray for Cooking

Among the duties of the Stay At Home Wife, Cooking is a major way in which she can contribute to the family’s health and wellbeing.

There are a lot of things that women used to do, but which have become a lot easier today. Before 1850, women had to spin fiber into thread, and then weave thread into cloth. This was no joke. Then, a woman had to make the cloth into clothing, or perhaps do things like knitting. Today, making clothing is an admirable hobby, but there is no good reason to do it unless you really want to. (I once had a male friend who raised his own sheep, made his own wool yarn, and knit his own sweaters from it.)

Between vacuum cleaners or washing machines, there is no good reason to spend more time on housework than it demands, which should not be more than about an hour a day. It seems like women like to draw this out, and then moan about how hard it is. I did housework when I was single, including vacuuming, bathroom cleaning and laundry, and I don’t think I spent more than about 3 hours a week at it.

Preparing and preserving food used to be a big part of women’s duties. Between harvest time in October and June, nothing was coming from gardens or farms. Everything had to be preserved for the winter. This meant canning, or drying, root cellaring or many other things. Butter or cheese had to be made. Fish or fowl had to be butchered and cleaned.

Today, you can just buy these things.

It may seem that a woman doesn’t really have to cook much these days either. There are all kinds of prepared foods available in the supermarket, or you could go to a cheap takeout option like pizza or Chinese food.

There are a lot of problems with this. The first is: nearly all prepared food options, in the supermarket or from restaurants, are bad for you. If you eat this stuff every day, for every meal, you will end up overweight/obese and with bad health problems. Prepared foods from the supermarket soon degenerates into snack foods. It can become common for 30%+ of people’s diets to consist of junk foods like chips, soda, ice cream, cookies, candy and doughnuts.

I say that a wife should concentrate on making food from scratch, with high quality ingredients, and single-ingredient foods. Organic beans. Rice. Spices. Canned tomatoes. Lettuce. Beef. Orange juice. Olive oil. If you are using basic foods like these, you can raise the quality, buying organic grains or pasture-raised beef, without spending a lot of money. Lots of fruits and vegetables, please.

There are a lot of options available for making food quickly, from single-ingredient foods. Oatmeal for breakfast. A sandwich for lunch. Pasta or soup for dinner. (You can make soup and eat it for several days afterwards.) Canning or freezing your homemade foods will give you instant-prep options that are also healthy and homemade. It is an easy matter to make 12 quarts of homemade chili, and then can it into 12 Mason jars.

Usually, you can save a lot of money by cooking yourself. With a family of four, it is not hard to save perhaps $20/day ($5/person, over three meals) compared to supermarket prepared-food alternatives, or takeout restaurants. That is $600 a month. It’s enough to pay for an automobile.

Also, cooking usually means eating together. That’s because there’s nothing to eat until the cooking is done. There are no snack foods that you can just take out of a plastic bag. It’s important for a family to eat together every day.

But the real fun comes when a wife goes beyond just providing minimum healthy nutrition for a minimal cost and minimum expenditure of time and effort. When a woman becomes a little ambitious about cooking, she provides real benefit to her family every day, while also having a lot of fun in the process. Cooking should be a hobby. You can get enthusiastic about it. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Now we are trying new recipes all the time. A wife might have themes that she is working on. Beans, for example. You can’t just “eat beans.” What can you do with these things? Find 20 bean recipes that you like. Get a pressure cooker. Find 10 different ways to cook potatoes. Practice ten Thai recipes, or ten Indian recipes. Or, make ten things from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Usually, you have to make something 3-4 times before you get it right anyway. If it is something completely foreign, like chana masala, it might take 5-8 tries.

Maybe you want to get away from typical fare, and try vegan or no-wheat options.

Study nutrition. Unfortunately, this can become very complicated and confusing, so I will simplify: eat natural whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and meats (if you want). Get high quality materials, such as organic vegetables. Avoid all GMO foods, which mostly means corn and soy found in processed foods. You might try de-emphasizing, or eliminating, wheat, baked goods, white sugar or dairy.

Teach yourself to cook like a serious chef. This might take five years or more. It took my wife five years of daily cooking to get good at it. Today, it is hard to find a restaurant anywhere that is better than what we eat at home. I have been to not only good restaurants, but famous restaurants, that were not as good as what we eat at home.

Use the dining room. Some women have dinner every day in the dining room. They use the nice silverware, and the glasses, and the napkins every day. Why not. Get some nice dishware. Dishware doesn’t really wear out, so there is a lot of it available on the used market for very little cost. You can find very high quality items for perhaps 10%-20% of the original new price.

Yes, you can do this every day.

I say this in particular for young women, or girls, who think that maybe they want to be a stay-at-home wife, but they don’t really know what this might mean. Sometimes, they think it means: cleaning the toilet. Yes, you have to clean the toilet (you have to do this as a single career woman too), but if you are spending more than 5 minutes at it, it is taking too long. Usually, these days, young women or girls think that being a stay-at-home wife means: being a Disney Princess. Your husband and family is there to serve you and your whims, and are responsible for your continuing pleasure and entertainment. Sometimes, girls are taught that to do anything at all beneficial for the others in the family is oppression. Because: feminism. These women will spend their lives being told what to do all day by corporate bosses. Good luck with that!

No — you must be productive, and one of the best ways to be productive is to cook food that improves the health and lifestyle of the whole family. This is something that people do every day; actually, three times a day. Do it well. It is also a lot of fun. Just watch a cooking show, with Emeril Lagasse or Giada de Laurentiis. Doesn’t that look like fun?

Published by proprietor

Happily married, with children.

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