A home cooked meal = a simple pleasure

Since college, I always knew that once I graduated and started living on my own that I’d cook most meals at home. While cost is certainly something to think about because no one has unlimited funds, that was actually never my first concern. My first thought was about knowing what I was eating and what was going into it; almost all pre-made food outside, whether it’s pre-made food at a grocery store or takeout from a restaurant, will have far more salt, oil/fats, sugar, or all the above added to it. Oftentimes weird preservatives with names that no one knows how to pronounce are used to keep things edible longer. And in a food supply as frustrating as this country’s, I think we’d all be healthier and happier if we ate more home cooked meals. I did exactly what I thought I’d do: since I moved to New York, I cook most of my meals. It helps, of course, that I love cooking and find it very fun and therapeutic. And with tiny human in the house, I really want to make sure the majority of her food is homemade, too. So it’s easy for me to forget sometimes that for the average American, they are *not* eating homemade meals as the majority of their diet. And then somehow, I get surprised, and then I forget once again.

My friend is in town visiting from the Bay Area for the next several days. We ate out together on Thursday night, and on Friday, I suggested that she come over for dinner. I’d make food, but we’d also get a couple dishes for takeout from a nearby spot. On Thursday during our meal, she told me that she and her boyfriend, who she lives with, rarely cook at home and eat pretty much all their meals out. They barely have any food in the fridge, and their pantry is pretty bare. So I hoped she’d appreciate the home cooked meal more given this. For dinner on Friday, I made za’atar roasted chicken thighs with lemons and red onions, Middle Eastern-style eggplant with tahini sauce, steamed beets, charred bok choy with Sichuanese chili crisp, and pea pulao. Chris ordered some lamb manti from a nearby Turkish restaurant. We had freshly cut mangoes and pineapple for dessert. It was kind of a hodge podge of dishes without a real united theme, but I figured it would all still be tasty. While my friend enjoyed all the food, surprisingly enough, what she seemed to enjoy the most (and had fourth helpings of!) were the steamed beets. It was, by far, the simplest, easiest thing on the table, yet she was obsessed with them.

I always forget that the simplest dishes seem to please people the most. But I was happy to feed my friend a homemade meal since she doesn’t get them very often at all. Though I do hope, for her own health, that she and her boyfriend will try to make more food at home, even if it’s an activity they can do together. It would help them spend less money and also be more healthy. Who doesn’t want to be healthier and spend less money on frivolous things?

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