Can't cook? Really? What do you eat?

I’ve heard people say many times “I can’t cook.”

Is there anyone here who is at a loss in the kitchen? I know people who couldn’t cook a turkey or make roast beef gravy, but most people know how to cook something. At least a handful of meals from a cookbook.

If you suck at cooking, care to share your diet with us? What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

As a side question. My mother hates to cook. I don’t know if it’s the act of cooking or just that she knows she’s really bad at it (she learned the art of bad cooking from my grandmother. Both my aunts are crap cooks as well). Do you hate to cook as well? Why? What don’t you like about it?

Not me, fortunately, but one of my brothers recently messed up a Kraft Mac’n’Cheese boxed meal to the point where it was inedible. I think he forgot to cook the pasta (dumped into the water then immediately drained it) and also dumped the orange plastic powder directly into the boiling water. He survives because his wife knows how to cook. He can manage to microwave a hot dog or something like that, if left to his own devices.

And we had a family friend, years ago, who stayed with us while doing a college internship. He literally did not even know what a saucepan was. We corrected some of the gaps in his knowledge, needless to say. He survived because at home, his mother did all the cooking, and at college, he ate in the campus dining halls.

My father was known to heat a can of soup by setting it - unopened - in a saucepan of water on the stove. We stopped him in time to prevent explosions. Again, he had a wife (and later daughter, me) to prevent starvation. I think I see a pattern here.

I cannot cook. I haven’t turned on my stove or oven for almost 2 years, probably.

My diet:

breakfast: Our cafeteria makes muffins and cookies and oatmeal. I usually have a small bowl of oatmeal and muffin or apple with milk.

Lunch: I eat out. Sometimes in our cafeteria, most of the time in whatever restaurant is close that sounds good.

Dinner: 4 nights a week, I eat out with friends. The other nights I survive on Lean Cuisine microwave dinners or basic food that requires almost no preparation, like cereal or cold cut sandwiches. A few nights a month, my girlfriend will cook me a home-made dinner. A few nights a month, I’ll go to my parents’ house for a home cooked dinner as well.

True that I don’t have a lot of variety, but I don’t think there’s a Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine dinner I haven’t sampled once or twice. It shakes things up.

My taste in food is really basic, and I usually don’t even like things that take time and effort to cook. I do know how to make pasta without messing up, but a lot of the time I just eat a bagel or something.

Yes, I am going to hell for carbohydrate abuse.

I don’t really cook. If I have explicit directions and all the ingredients in front of me, yes, I can manage to cook something. But I have no basic sense of how recipes fit together and therefore have been really frustrated in the past with things that didn’t turn out well. Plus I have no practice with chopping things and hate the mess that cooking involves. I’m sure I coudl fix a lot of these problems with practice but that involves lots of time and expensive wasted food.

I cook very basic things like scrambled tofu, chili from a mix, or steamed kale. things with few ingredients.

But, I don’t even cook that much frequently. I’m lucky that Ilive very near to a Whole Foods so I buy healthy prepared but expensive stuff frequently. Usual meals:

No breakfast, just green tea.

Lunch: Either prepared vegetables and tuna, a prepared Ethiopean take-out meal, or a big burrito form a near-by restaurant.

Dinner: Usually spinach salad with crumbled cheese. Sometimes I get fresh soup or udon. If I’m feeling lazy, I have chips and dip…

My husband can prepare the following (I hesitate to say “cook”):

Meat on the grill - steak, hamburgers, chicken etc. If he’s careful not to burn it.
Toasted PB&J sammiches.
Instant potatoes.
Tuna fish with Miracle Whip.
Canned peas.
Fried eggs.

And that’s it. For years (when he was single) he ate the same supper every night: canned peas, instant potatoes, and tuna fish. He’s actually a bit afraid of the kitchen - I get the impression that the art of cooking is very mysterious to him. I don’t think his Mom allowed him in there, much less showed him how to make anything.

The other day, as he was eating the pancakes I had made for breakfast, he looked at me thoughtfully and said, “By the way … what are pancakes made of”?

It’s kind of sad in a way … but also kind of neat in a childlike innocence way. At least I know he’ll keep me around for the vittles. :cool:

I cook just fine… but my husband doesn’t.

Pre-co-habitation, he ate at local restaurants. No joke. 7 days a week, 3 times a day. It was spooky - he’d walk in and they’d put food in front of him, already knowing what he’d want. He was that much a regular.

When I started cooking for him on occassion he started missing his “appointments”. One restaurant owner was so concerned she stopped by with a quart of chicken soup, thinking he was sick or something and that’s why he wasn’t showing up.

Lucky for him, he lived in a Chicago neighborhood where inexpensive restaurants abounded.

He’s also been known to do things like open up a can of peas and eat them at room temperature.

He does, however, know how to use a microwave. Largely because he can read the instructions on packages. He’s actually quite bright, just never saw a need to learn how to cook since the alternatives worked well enough for him.

I am a complete idiot in a kitchen. It’s never been a problem yet, because I’ve lived at home or in a dorm, and just eat in the dining hall. I can boil a pot of pasta and make ramen, though the noodles are like to be a bit under- or over-cooked.

I’ve never used an oven. I’ve used a stove, but haven’t in about five years. I’ve never actually used a normal ‘slots in the top’ toaster, and very rarely have used a toaster oven.

I am, however, fairly well proficient with a coffee maker. I also can use a microwave, and when I do cook for myself, it’s pretty much, “Open box, nuke, consume.” Honestly, I see no reason to ever learn how to cook further. You can eat just fine with a microwave and a pot of pasta - why go through the stress and trouble of ‘real’ cooking?

I love to cook; I love even more to bake. My husband can hardly stand to be in the room during food preparation. Before we were married, he lived with his parents, so of course his mother was the cook. When I was in the hospital after our first daughter was born, he “survived” on the kindness of friends and on beer and pickles. He has now gotten to where he will, on occasion, slap a few slices of cold cuts on bread and announce proudly that he made himself a sandwich. Once, he tried to boil eggs. He left them in boiling water for a half hour.

However, he has no objection to lawn care (which I refuse to do), vehicle maintenance and household repairs (like the whole-house plumbing debacle we went through this week, but that’s another story).

I can cook quite well both form a recipie and from out of my head. However, I despise cooking. I work long hours now and have little time to do much besides heat and eat or take-out but even when I didn’t work like this I didn’t like to cook. I don’t like the clean up, I don’t like the trying to assemble the ingredients. I don’t have on hand all of the stuff in the recipies and by the time I need it again it is out of date. cooking for one is expensive or maybe I have expensive tastes. Buying fresh herbs tastes great but is very wasteful because it comes in a packet with enough for a large family for days. I can get take out for around 6.00 to 10.00. eat toss out the packaging done in no time ready to move on to doing something else. Going to the store purchasing the ingredients, speding 12.00 to 15.00 buying all of the ingredients and then having to prepare everything and then have to clean up. twice as much money and a couple of hours spent just to eat.

Stress and trouble? I cook rarely these days, but I wish I had the time to cook every day. I find cooking relaxing.

And nearly every kind of food – especially meat and vegetables – tastes better when you cook it from fresh ingredients. I find it very satisfying.

Pasta in the microwave is always mushy.

And microwave meals use some kind of abominable substitute for cheese.

On the other hand, I’ve never felt a need to bake. I’m perfectly happy buying bread from a bakery. I rarely eat cake or other baked desserts and I’m happy to buy those as well.

Cooking myself tastes better than take out food, I don’t know why.

Also cooking yourself allows you to (in particular) control the amount of fat used in the preparation. Fat’s tasty, yeah, but the way restaurants glop it on it makes the food really heavy.

My little brother made mac’n’cheese once by boiling everything together in a pot – water, noodles, cheese powder, milk, butter. It was just a sort of orangey paste. He couldn’t understand why it didn’t work out. He just looked at the pictures (didn’t read the text) and it looked like that was the way he was supposed to do it, so that’s what he did. Of course, he was only sixteen at the time, and he’s seventeen now and is able to make impressive sandwiches, broil things, microwave anything, and make ramen, so he’s really progressing by leaps and bounds. If Mom should just stop cooking some day, my baby brother should be able to feed himself quite handily. I mean, his cholesterol and blood pressure would probably be shot, but he wouldn’t starve.

My roommate my freshman year of college couldn’t cook. She could make eggs and microwave things, and that was about it. The reason? Her mother didn’t allow anyone into the kitchen. My roommate never got to learn to cook. That just baffled me, since in my family, if you wandered into the kitchen, you were pressed into service in some way. (My brothers can both do basic preparation – chopping, grating, boiling, etc. – the youngest one is just a little lost on how it all goes together. Though they have combined their powers make cookies.) It’s all, “Stir this pot. Chop this cabbage. Grate this cheese. Oh, you don’t want to? Then you get to do dishes . . . OR YOU DON’T EAT.” How can it be a family meal if the entire family doesn’t work on it?

It’s just kind of baffling that people don’t cook or eat together. Eating alone feels so wrong to me. It’s depressing.

adhemar, you can buy pots of live herbs and just clip off what you need as you go. As long as you remember to water them, there’s no waste.

You’re healthy and smart and stay in shape, right? You’re about 20?

Check out the ingredient list on those boxes you open, nuke and consume someday. Now, imagine eating those ingredients for the next 60 years of your life. . .high fructose corn syrup, niacinamide, thiamin hydrochloride, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, whatever.

What the hell is that stuff?

Well, all right. . .some of it is just Vitamin B or something but one of the main things about cooking is just knowing what goes into your mouth. I’m telling you, out of all those things they put in food to help with texture, preservation, or flavor. . .at least one of them is gonna get ya. They’re things that I don’t think man was supposed to consume daily. JMcrackpotO.

Like, others, I also find cooking relaxing and fun. When I get home from work, I work out, then we cook. Pretty much every day. I stand in the kitchen with my wife, and we cook, for an hour or more. . .talking, helping each other, playing a little kissy face. I don’t expect someone else to enjoy it just because I do, but it starts with NOT looking at cooking like a stressful chore, but more like a relaxing hobby.

I know it’s different for a college kid, too. I didn’t start cooking anything until I lived in an off campus apartment. It started simple, with my own spaghetti sauce, stir-fries, chicken parm, but now I have a pretty decent home repertoire.

I’m a pretty good cook. My husband can’t cook at all.

Let me amend that- about six months ago I taught him to make grilled cheese. We ate a steady diet of grilled cheese for about three weeks. The novelty seems to have worn off, as we haven’t had it for a while.

We stand poised at the brink of me teaching him how to turn on the oven and make frozen chicken fingers and fries. He has recently discovered canned salmon, which he mashes with mayo and then eats from a bowl.

Yes, he lived alone for a few years. He would eat a burger and fries every day at about 3 p.m., and that would usually be it, unless I was over and cooking.

Like tremorviolet, he lacks cooking instincts. He can’t look in the fridge and say, “Hey, why don’t I make ramen and put some bok choy in it”, or “Spaghetti sauce- I wonder if there’s any ground beef? and maybe I could use these mushrooms?”. It’s a mystery to him how food coalesces from raw ingredients.

He’s a bit afraid. If you have absolutely no idea how to cook anything, the idea of making anything is fraught with failure. He’s also not very interested in food. If I’m not home, he may eat granola bars all day, with an occasional can of salmon.

We’re working on it slowly. I’m probably not the best person to teach him, because most cooking for me is instinctive- I don’t have to think carefully about the process of turning a piece of chicken into stirfry or poaching it or whatever. I figure if he can learn to open a few cans and combine them to make a meal, then that’s a big first step.

Incidentally, he’s not dumb, he’s just a) uninterested, and b)made nervous by the complexity of cooking. It’s hard to overcome those two factors when they’re together.

Ah, good, I see I’m not alone in finding cooking stressful. There’s so much stuff ya have to pay attention to…Did you leave the eggs in the pan too long? Not long enough? How do ya know if they’re done? Golden brown…so, like, not black? Well, that bacon doesn’t look quite crispy yet. And the attention it requires…haveta be watching it all the time, making sure things don’t burn. Ya can’t even do anything else since you’d forget an’ then it’d burn. shudder

i don’t cook
I open and if necessary I nuke
that’s not cooking

Once in a blue moon I’ll moosh up some eggs in a skillet with a little cheese - but that’s not really cooking either - that’s heating

When we were growing up, while my mom was preparing dinner, I was there chopping the onions, dredging the chicken with flour, or draining the macaroni. My sister was on the phone jabbering with her friends.

So now, 30 years later, all the holidays are spent at my house because I’m “so good in the kitchen”. Meanwhile, my sister eats frozen dinners and take-out.

Oh, and, my grocery bill is about $200/month, whereas hers (including the take-out) is about $800/month. Plus, she’s about 100 pounds heavier than me.

I’m really glad I spent all those evenings in the kitchen, learning to cook from my mom.

Neither my husband nor I cook although we can. The oven went out several years ago. We use it for storage.

We eat when we are hungry and never sit down to eat together unless we have food delivered. Even then, we eat in front of the TV. The dining room table is used for sorting mail, beading, and paying bills.

We eat take-out food, microwavable dinners, sandwiches, chips, dips, cheese, prepared food from the market, snacks, cereal, and sweets. Sometimes we get salads in a bag. They taste strange and wonderful.