busy business woman

Cooking for ourselves is good for us and the environment. Homemade food is healthier than dried or frozen meals. Home-cooked meals produce less waste because we make only what we need, not what filled a package. There is no excess packaging and plastic to throw away.

In my family, we always had home-cooked meals and packed school lunches. Going to McDonald’s or ordering takeout was a rare treat — if one could call it that. But, how did Mom manage it? Three meals a day, 365 days a year? I was marveling about this and complaining to Mr. Goldberg, an elderly coworker, that “I have no time to cook!” His simple response was, “So, you’re never home?” He quickly followed with, “You’re never watching a movie or reading a book?” and “Why can’t you put up a stew first or put a chicken in the oven?”

Mr. Goldberg’s response opened my eyes! There are all kinds of opportunities for cooking that I have ignored. I could put a chicken in the oven before sitting down with a novel. A stew or bone broth takes as long as a TV series binge-watching session or football game. Just don’t forget about it! You could set a timer on your phone so that you remember to check on your meal.

Another simple, no-brainer way to prepare home-cooked food is the old-fashioned slow cooker. You might know it by the brand name, Crock-Pot. Set it and forget it. The slow cooker is great at any time of year because you don’t have to mind it. Whether you are taking a nap, working in the garden, or sitting at the pool, something yummy can be cooking.

Our days are filled with available cooking times: while waiting for a repair service person to arrive, by soaking beans overnight to shorten cooking time, and cooking on weekends for the whole week. Women who worked in mid-century factories prepared a week’s worth of food on their weekends.

Let’s listen to our elders, again. They knew how to feed themselves and work while managing to save money at the same time! And it’s all the better for the Earth and us!

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February 13, 2019.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.