Cooking a homemade meal for your loved ones can provide you with a great feeling of accomplishment. Having your favourite people around you, enjoying food that you've made from scratch; why should this be a one-off thing? Have you considered taking up cooking as a hobby?
For older people it's important to have as many hobbies as possible, in order to combat any feelings of loneliness and to keep fit and active. Cooking can provide you and your loved ones with plenty of benefits, and there are many guides and recipes out there to help you perfect your meals.
Let's look at some of the benefits of taking up cooking as a hobby.
It's highly likely that the food you create in your kitchen will be much healthier than the processed foods you find in supermarkets. Likewise, you can ensure that it's lower in calories and more nutritious than the meals served up in restaurants and fast food outlets.
You have complete control over the recipes that you choose to follow and the portion sizes that you serve up. This will lead to a much healthier diet and will reduce the risk of obesity and the medical conditions that come with it. Cooking at home can also boost your mental health. For more information, read our list of the top 6 mental health benefits of cooking.
2. Happy Happy Happy
Cooking the perfect meal is going to bring a smile to your face. You could be in the foulest of moods beforehand, but once you taste your food and see the reactions of your loved ones eating it, your frown will be turned upside-down.
There have been studies which suggest cooking is a therapeutic activity. According to the Like to Cook blog, this is because:
"When you cook, you stimulate your senses. The feel of the new flour you bought at the market, the smell of those fresh strawberries, the sound of the whisk beating, all those things can stimulate your senses, which contributes to get more endorphins, those feel good hormones that put a smile on your face."
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, cooking will also provide you with a great feeling of accomplishment. By the end of your session you'll be left very proud of the meal you have made.
3. Brings the Family Together
Everybody loves a good homemade meal. It's important for older people to see their family as much as possible, in order to avoid feeling lonely, and cooking a masterpiece for them is the perfect way to do so.
Cooking can become a family activity too. Perhaps your grandchildren can help with the ingredients or by setting the table. Or maybe they can read out the instructions given to you on the iPad recipe that you're using.
When the food is ready, and the table is set, everybody comes together to discuss their lives. Food encourages talk and positivity.
4. Expands your Knowledge of the World
Cooking as a hobby means that you're going to read several recipes and online guides from around the world. By doing this, you're going to learn more about different cultures and tastes from different countries.
Learning about food can be a true eye-opener as you discover meals that you may not have even heard about before. Who knows, your love of food may lead to you expanding your bucket list and visiting new places each year.
5. Cooking is a Money Saver
Going out for a nice meal isn't cheap nowadays, especially when you add in the price of drinks and transport to get to the restaurant. Likewise, the prices in the frozen food section in the supermarket are also on the rise - for small portions too!
It's going to work out much cheaper if you buy all your ingredients and create your own meals at home. You can plan ahead and work out which ingredients you're going to need for the month ahead, and the meal sizes you're hoping to have.
Of course, if you choose to grow your own fruit and veg in the garden you will save even more money.
6. Time Management Skills
Cooking at home will require you to master your time management capabilities. It's possible that you'll be setting different timers for different parts of the cooking process. You need to ensure that you have those ingredients out on the table with enough time to cook before dinner.
This means that you are constantly using your brain to work out the next stage of the cooking process. Of course, keeping your brain active is important in the fight against dementia.
7. You Avoid Food Allergies
As you're choosing the ingredients that go into your meals, you're ensuring that you're avoiding any potential food allergy reactions or sensitivities. Some of the most common allergies include nuts, gluten, and shellfish, and these can be missed in restaurants or processed food.
By cooking at home you're giving yourself control over this problem and can cook the foods that your loved ones are able to eat.
8. Confidence Booster
If you're lacking in confidence, cooking might be a good option for you. Perfecting several different recipes from around the world proves that you have the ability and skill to try new things and present your "work" to friends and family.
Cooking is a challenge, but when you create a masterpiece your confidence is going to improve.
9. Food Safety
We've already discussed that you're going to avoid any food allergies or sensitivities by cooking your own food, but by doing so you're also lowering the risk of any food-related illnesses. Food poisoning is an all too common problem for those of us who eat out at restaurants or fast food outlets.
By using your own ingredients and skill to cook the meals you're eating, you can rest assured knowing that your food is safe to eat and won't make your loved ones ill.
To minimise any risks in your kitchen, check out our article on kitchen safety tips for older people.
10. Leads to a Clean Kitchen
You want to make tasty food which won't put people in any medical danger. Therefore, you're naturally going to keep your preparation areas clean and tidy. Without even realising, this will lead to you cleaning your kitchen on a daily basis.
Your worktops will be wiped down and cleared away, as will your table, and your plates and cutlery will be washed and stored away ready for the next cooking session.
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Editor's Note: Updated on 24th June 2022 to reflect current information.