Food is essential to survival. But many consider cooking a chore.
It takes forever to chop, cook, and clean up. We feel as if we don't have the patience or the time for it. Cooking for others is all of this multiplied by 10!
And all of this hard work for someone else. Such a selfless act, right?
Well, I used to think like that too, until I learned that cooking for others can be just as good for me as for the ones I care about.
I learned that this hard work preparing for friends and family pays off well.
1. Cooking for others makes your life happier
Man is by nature a social animal.
— Aristotle, philosopher in Ancient Greece
We need companionship. We look forward to lunchtime from the start of the day. Oh, the joy of taking a break, eating good food, and catching up with friends and colleagues!
Sharing meals is a wonderful way of bringing people closer. And when you cook for others, the act of sharing becomes more meaningful and intentional.
Sharing meals is also a great way to get to know someone. Think of your next date, or meeting your new (or even old) neighbor...food is often a part of it!
2. Cooking for others helps build community
It helps you share your culture.
To live together, we need to know each other. What I eat and how I eat is an important part of me.
I live abroad, and cooking meals from my home country has been the easiest way for me to share and promote my identity and my culture. And it helps my friends discover traditional dishes that are meaningful to me.
Most importantly, cooking can help you break taboos and stereotypes. You go beyond the clichés from movies and TV series.
Cooking food has given me a sense of belonging, and my guests a reason to come back.
Sam is hosting a dinner at his place. Max is the only vegetarian in the group and doesn’t eat meat. Sam has a defined budget and limited time to cook. What can he do?
3. It improves your confidence and self-esteem
Cooking for others not only benefits others, it benefits your own personal well-being.
Cooking requires a lot of concentration and coordination. A small amount of sincere effort can lead to success. Success can look like:
Cutting the vegetables well
Getting the spices right
Plating the dish beautifully
Or even just not burning the cake!
And any amount of success is wonderful for your confidence and self-esteem.
4. It lets you be creative and expressive
We all know that mistakes happen — the brownies will be under-baked only when you’re making it for others, or you'll add extra salt to a dish that you have been cooking to perfection for years now.
Here's a personal anecdote:
I once invited a cousin for lunch, who I knew to be an excellent cook. I was feeling stressed, and on top of that, I was new to cooking. I ended up with an extra salty dish.
But I learned that mistakes are great learning opportunities. My cousin shared a hack: adding lemon juice neutralizes saltiness. Since that day, I have one less thing to stress about.
By cooking for others, I've learned to accept less-than-perfect results. I can now allow myself to experiment and be creative with my food. And so it becomes a way for me to express myself to others.
Alexia is starting a new Masters degree and just moved into a new apartment building. How can she best get to know her neighbors?
The lessons I have learned while cooking for others are qualities that I have been able to apply to other areas of life over time.
These qualities make life better for you and for others around you.
Share food for more happiness and growth.