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November 4, 2015

6 Reasons to Learn to Cook

by alive


Three years ago, I couldn’t cook to save my Life.


I decided to learn, and now, I can do a few simple nutritious meals. If I can do it, you can too!


Slow cook beefWhen I first learned to cook, it was because I wanted to eat healthy. The food I bought for lunch was not giving me enough nutrition. Lack of protein was definitely one thing, but so was the overabundance of oil or carbs. Not to mention the MSG!



However I soon realized there were other benefits, like saving money! Did you know that if you buy groceries in bulk, add up the cost, then divide by the number of meals you could make, you could save a lot of money per meal?


Take a plate of chicken rice. On average it would cost you $6.50 to buy. But by cooking a similar dish yourself, you’ll get much better nutrition for about $5 a plate. Don’t look down on that $1 saved. If you multiplied that by two meals a day x 30 days… that’s $60 a month!


Want more reasons to take up cooking? Here are six!


1. Nutrition


First and foremost is nutrition, plain and simple.


When you cook, you know exactly what you put in your meals. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about counting calories or nutrient values! It certainly seems dreary even to me! Who wants to measure everything? It gets boring and takes the fun out of cooking and eating.


No, these days I de-emphasize being quantitative, and recommend thinking qualitatively instead.


Think SAS.

  • Substitute!
    Examples: extra virgin olive oil for palm oil; grilled chicken for fried chicken; avocado spread for butter; whole wheat flour for white flour
    chicken rice healthy Chicken rice unhealthy


  • Add!
    Examples: pinch of healthy cheese, spices, high-quality fibre (like wheat germ), corn off the rind, vegetables
  • Subtract!
    Examples: sugar, oil, rubbish like MSG


2. Weight Loss Goals

Besides the natural advantages that come from better nutrition, cooking means you’re able to prepare meals ahead, and won’t be caught not knowing what to eat, and settling for whatever hawker food is available. When you know how to prepare your own meals, you can pre-cook and take your meals with you to work.



But what if you don’t want break out the pots and pans? When you learn to make meals, you’ll realise there’s more to even the humble sandwich than two slices of bread and jam or cheese. You’ll be able to whip up a decent, healthy sandwich sufficient to fill you during lunch with nutrients and taste, instead of that hamburger from the fast food joint.


With these advantages, how much opportunity do you think fat and carbs can creep in the way it does for your co-workers?


Yong dao fu unhealthy

Preparing your own meals also takes out guess work. You won’t have to ‘estimate’ how many calories are in that tempting bowl of char kway teow or be fooled by that seemingly ‘healthy’ yong tao foo that is full of starchy carbs and almost zero quality protein.




3. Taste!

Let’s not forget another BASIC reason we eat besides just to live… taste!


Have you eaten at a restaurant and thought to yourself, if only this dish had a bit more x or a bit less y, it would taste great? When you learn how to cook, you can get things just right, the way you want it!

Food taste

Have the stereotypical notion that healthy food is dry, tasteless, and bland? Learning to make it the way you want it, adding just the right flavor bombs, will ensure you actually eat it!


4. Relationships

Everyone gathers around food, especially in Singapore! But because of the food choices people tend to congregate around, it’s often a double-edged sword! Gathering with friends or going out on a date is great, but if you’re doing it over food that’s putting you in harm’s way then it’s definitely not.

Bonding over beer


What if your friends cannot accept this? The thought of anything healthy, or anything but cream, sugar and alcohol just doesn’t interest them?


Well… here’s where you may have to make a few decisions. Use your influence and your love to help them become healthier, decrease your interactions over food, and increase your network of like-minded people.


Family Cooking

Health is the bedrock for everything else, and as you get older, you can’t get away from so many unhealthy choices. As you see what happens to people around you, you’ll be more motivated to make sure your loved ones start living healthy too.



Cooking is also a form of love for your family and loved ones. There’s nothing like food you selected, prepared, cooked and served with your own efforts, to show that you care about the people you give it to.


5. Better Value for Money

As mentioned in my chicken rice example at the start of this article, you will get to save money.


Save moneyIt’s not just because you’re buying your own ingredients and saving on the mark ups a food eatery would charge over that. It’s the unseen costs like the chef’s salary, service charges, GST, and rental costs. And if you buy ready-to-serve foods, you’re paying for the processing and the packaging.


Sometimes, some people do the sums and come back to me saying, hey, I didn’t save much!


Well, don’t forget, even if the price is the same, you are upping quality for the same price per meal!


For instance, if you could buy a MacDonald’s Big Mac for $6 and get 540 calories, 30g of fat, 10g of sugar, with 25g of protein.

Or you could make a much healthier version of a burger with also 25g protein, but also almost no sugar, 350 calories, and 12g of fat. Quite the exchange, so don’t think just in terms of dollars value saved, although you will get that too!

Burger Unhealthy  Burger Healthy


6. Lifelong Learning/ NPS/ Fun (Take Your Pick!)

Hey, at AA35 we’re big on Lifelong Learning and NPS, especially something that is out of the norm and out of the box, and different from your normal activities. So the less comfortable you are with the idea of cooking, the more knowledge and mental stimulation you’re going to get!


What do you gain when you cook?


Knowledge – about food, types of food, nutrients, how tastes go together or contrast incredibly, food hygiene… and when it comes to healthy living, how to prepare healthy food that tastes so good that losing weight or being in shape will no longer be a grind!


Knife skills

Skills – impressive knife skills, planning and organization, hand-eye coordination, taste differentiation… but perhaps most simply, it’s a basic skill for living that you really should pick up because food is something we all need to Live!




Creativity – how to put a meal together, use substitutions for different effects… every meal is your own creation!


Food presentation2

Artistry – food presentation… you want your meals not just actually tasty but looking inviting!


Fun and Relaxation – I know it sounds like crazy talk when you can’t even boil an egg, but once you get past the initial stage you’re really going to come into your own. Every process gives you tremendous satisfaction, and if you do it with a loved one, so much the better!




Most of us have probably thought about learning to cook and prepare meals for whatever reason, but didn’t overcome the inertia to get started. Your obstacles may have been laziness, fear, lack of knowledge.


But with any healthy or useful habit, the most important motivator is to have reasons of your own. Health, saving money, even wanting to impress a girl… the more reasons you have, the easier it will be to overcome that inertia! These six reasons are just some off the top of my head and hopefully give you something to mull over. If they you over that tipping point from inertia to action, that’s all that matters!


Get cracki- I mean cooking!

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