I was recently invited to a Pampered Chef party. I don't always enjoy going to parties where the goal is for you to buy things, but the hostess was a friend I don't see nearly often enough and of all the parties of that type, Pampered Chef is probably my favorite. Their stuff is thoughtfully-designed and high-quality, and you always get to eat well.
I sat next to the only person I knew besides the hostess. I had just settled in with my plate to page through the catalog when this friend said, "I don't know what I will buy. I hate to cook. I almost set my house on fire once." This was news to me, but what was weird about it was that she seemed to wear her inability to cook as a badge of honor. When I decided to buy a batter bowl with a lid, she asked what I planned to use it for. I said it would be great for making pancakes because sometimes I make too much batter and then I could save it for the next day. "That's so cute that you do that!"
I like her and I wasn't offended, I just thought it was a weird position to take that anyone who cooked was indulging in a quaint and outdated practice, as if I were churning butter or something. I asked, finally, after a couple of go-rounds of the "I don't cook" theme, what she did when she wanted to eat. She eats out or orders in or makes something that requires minimal preparation. I'm sure she still makes sandwiches and things like that.
I think that cooking is one of those things that a lot of women who take themselves seriously avoid. That's unfortunate. Cooking isn't "women's work," it's "people who want to be able to eat" work. Who wants to pay restaurant prices and get restaurant calories at every meal? Most of my meals are quick, because like most people who work, I don't have the time for elaborate food preparation. But in the time it would take to order and get takeout, you can usually make yourself something better than the food you're ordering anyway. There is also the magical slow cooker: Dump in a few ingredients in the morning and come home to a fully-cooked meal. I usually keep a frozen pizza and a bag of salad on hand for days when I really don't want to cook, but if you can make a frozen pizza without setting anything on fire, there are probably a lot of other things you can make, too.
I am trying to limit restaurants mostly to weekends as a fun thing to do instead of an "I'm too tired to fix dinner so I'll just order something" thing. I have noticed that once I get in the habit of doing that too often, my jeans start to get tight.
So where are you on the spectrum? Do you proudly declare your inability to boil water, or are you a wanna-be chef? I am somewhere in the middle -- I don't really remember not knowing how to cook, and I enjoy playing the "What can I make with what I have" game and coming up with something creative. But I'd never even think about writing a cookbook or working in a restaurant -- I'm not systematic and organized enough to make things come out the same way every time.
By the way, I spent way too much at the Pampered Chef party. About $100. Now I guess I will have to cook at home even more to justify my purchases.