Living a busy life in the city has also meant living the life of takeout. Although amongst the shutdown of indoor dining, it’s important to support local businesses, I felt I was allowing my life to control me rather than being in control of my life. Instead of being organized and prioritizing cooking for myself, I would either eat out, cook quick and bland foods, forget to pack food and then give into the temptation of fast food or get overly complicated in the kitchen and feel frazzled and discouraged. Even as a vegan I felt unmotivated and disorganized and I knew that the source of a lot of these feelings was coming from the food I was fueling my body with. The food you eat is directly related to the way you feel and I needed a change so enter my two-week at-home cooking journey.
Before I started my two-week journey, I was eating out at least one meal a day, 4-5 days a week and this type of eating behaviour is very normalized in the city. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had gone a full week without eating out so I knew this was going to be a bit of a challenge for me. To prepare, I began with a list of items I would typically order and then scoured the grocery store for those items. I visited my local Asian grocery store, as well as my local Indian grocery store and Whole Foods to stock up on my favourites like roti, silken tofu, vegan “chicken”, Beyond Meat and pre-made curry sauce. I thought if I could make my favourite takeout options, I could learn to enjoy cooking for myself! I also knew that in order to resist the urge of eating out, I would have to create a plan. I took out my journal and planned the week in advance by listing out potential meal options depending on the ingredients I had and the schedule of that day.
During the first 7 days of the journey, I found my body readjusting to the food I was eating. After fueling myself on fast food and inconsistent portions, I could really feel my body start to change; I was feeling lighter and had more energy already! These first few days also showed me how important it was to PLAN ahead. There was one day at the office that everyone ordered takeout from a local favourite and I ended up eating one of the salads and some fries. I know….some may say this was a failure but I saw it as a learning moment. Because I wasn’t prepared enough that day, I gave in to temptation and I learned that could have been easily avoided if I had just prepped food ahead of time. However, I don’t regret the fries. #SueMe.
The second week of the journey was when I felt more settled and confident in my new routine. I began watching recipe videos on Youtube, experimenting with new ingredients and actually feeling excited about going home and cooking dinner! Cooking for myself became a time in which I was focusing solely on bettering myself without thoughts of work, school or anything else. Not only was I feeling better physically, but I was also feeling better mentally because I had become more organized and was taking time everyday to focus on my own well-being. It’s basically self-care but without the face mask and bubble bath.
It’s easy to order-in food but the repercussions of living a disorganized, unhealthy lifestyle are not worth the ease. Of course, it’s alright to eat out once in a while but eating out for the majority of the week can lead to a very unbalanced lifestyle. Through this journey, I learned to value and further enjoy the time I eat out instead of relying on takeout to fuel me. Here are my biggest takeaways:
- The food you eat will directly impact your moods and energy levels
- Planning ahead is crucial
- Recreating your fav takeout meals helps normalize cooking at home
- It’s normal to feel overwhelmed in the kitchen but this feeling fades the longer you cook at home
- You don’t have to be a pro chef in the kitchen every night!
- Sometimes recipes will be a fail..embrace it
- Experimenting will keep things interesting
- Cooking with your friends/family can be even more fun than eating out!
- Eating out and ordering takeout on delivery apps adds up! If I ate out 5 times in a week, I spent at least $150 on top of my grocery trips!
Now that my journey has been over for a week now, I can confidently say that the habits I developed have stuck so far. I’ve continued experimenting with new ingredients, researching new recipes and feeling more and more confident in the kitchen everyday.