Do you cook? I’ve started getting more into it recently and found it a great way to take a break from work or games.
Cooking has lots of benefits. Here are just a few:
- Joy of making
- Gift that keeps on giving
- Be creative
- Clear your head
If you cook and eat healthy meals, that’ll help your overall health. And the improvement to mental wellbeing that cooking can bring is a great thing too. Let’s look at how cooking can help balance and improve your life.
Joy of making
Playing games is fun, but are you creating something?
Perhaps you are, in a game like Minecraft. But what about making something in the real world? There’s a certain joy to that. There’s something special about creating a complete new whole, a meal, from a mix of lowly separate ingredients.
It’s especially gratifying to gather together ingredients that are basically rubbish, and create some delicious new result.
I bought some toasted muesli a few months ago and it was hard to force down; far too bland. So, I cobbled together a few ideas from recipes online and got baking. I had no idea if it’d work, but it was fun to try! The result? Some really nice biscuits from ingredients I would have thrown out.
Just as good was when I took the old gross bananas we had left get way too ripe. From that, I crafted banana bread that lasted us for over a week. Instead of wasted food, we had new food with a prolonged life compared to the bruised, pulpy mess in our fruit bowl.
So don’t think of cooking as a chore; think of the satisfaction of creation.
Gift that keeps on giving
Sharing a meal with friends is one of the great experiences of life. Sharing a meal you’ve made is even better.
Creating something today you can use again tomorrow, is a good use of time and effort, and more rewarding than buying takeaway again or digging around the cupboard hoping to find something vaguely edible.
Once you’ve made something – a meal, a cake, whatever – you can share it with others. You can make a batch big enough to last a few days. I made a salad yesterday that I and my wife had for lunch two days in a row. She made a cake on the weekend that’ll last for days.
It fills me with the same joy of making every time I go to eat a portion of my creation. It just doesn’t work like that when you buy something, or cook up 2-minute noodles again.
Being creative is one of the big things I’m loving about cooking.
I like looking at our ingredients and imagining what I can make. Then looking up recipes and mashing them together, skipping what I don’t want and adding my own flair.
It feels like unlocking a secret achievement or learning a new spell when the semi-random ingredients I’ve put together produce something better than the recipe even described.
And in the joyful making of things, fuelled by creativity, you’ll experience new things.
I’ve discovered new tastes that I didn’t realise I could make at home. Some of the stuff I’ve made was so simple, yet tastes better than any equivalent I can buy. Some of it can’t even be bought. Now, I can have it any time I want!
And even where your creations don’t turn out that great, you’re learning, levelling up your cooking skill. Sometimes your cake is going to overflow, or your eggs will run too soon, or something will be too spicy. It happens. But you learn from it and get better and better.
Clear your head
Final point on this list, and a big one: cooking clears your head.
You have to focus on ingredients and timing the first few tries, but after that you can put in your headphones, some music or an audiobook and go.
Even better, though, is not that. No music. No audiobook. Just you and the process.
Too boring not being plugged in 24/7? Well, here’s a benefit I’ve found. On several occasions I’ve been staring at a flashing cursor on a white screen. Trying to come up with some cool monsters for a roleplaying game, or a clever plot twist for a novel, or even just trying to best word a blog post. But once I step away, it comes to me.
Fog clears, the problem’s not so big any more. Sitting there with the cursor or pen forces your mind to think in sentences and words you can lay out on the screen or page. Moving away removes that limitation and lets your mind wander free. You don’t even need to think about the problem. Answers may just come to you.
I’ve developed whole epic plots washing the dishes for 30 minutes, after previously sitting at my computer typing, deleting and retyping for hours. Cooking works the same. It focuses you on something else, letting you put problems and puzzles on the back burner. It lets them simmer. You’re still working them out, you’re just not wasting your time doing it.
Health & wellbeing
As you can see, the benefits of cooking aren’t just limited to being physically healthy thanks to nomming on delicious salads.
Cooking can give you those happy feelings of creation that can be hard to come by. Even if you aren’t great at arts or crafts, cooking lets you create and doing so is very satisfying.
Cooking keeps on giving that satisfaction every time you reach for a bowl of salad or a slice of cake that you’ve created. As if eating isn’t happy-making enough already :)
Cooking can also help you unleash your creativity, which improves confidence and feeds back into your other creative endeavours.
Finally, cooking helps you clear your head which is something we all need in our hectic lives. It can help refocus and centre you for the day to come, or brush of the stress and worries of the day that’s been. Or even help you solve problems you’ve been thinking about too much.
In the end, cooking’s what you make of it, but I think the benefit’s I’ve found are out there and waiting for anyone who wants to put some points in the Cooking skill tree.
Has cooking helped you be creative or solve a puzzle? Tell us how. What other activities work for you? What clears your head or lets you be creative away from the keyboard? Do you draw? Clean the house? What gives you that satisfaction of creation or a job well done?
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