“I Don’t Cook” is an American Epidemic (But A Country Doctor Cooks)

Some patients announce it very proudly, others with downturned eyes: There are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to, or simply choose not to, prepare meals for themselves or their families.

This is a serious health problem. And it is a confusing one. Because there are so many easy ways to get a meal on the table very quickly.

I have many non-cooking patients who don’t even buy frozen dinners they can pop in the oven or microwave, but instead buy pizza, drive-through burgers or subway sandwiches.

A sandwich is not a meal. It is a snack at best.

The reasons not to cook seem to fall into three categories:

1) It takes too long

2) It’s too hard

3) It’s too much work to cook for just one person

I love spending an entire day making Swedish Christmas food for my children and grandchildren. But most of the time I do some weekend cooking for the coming week and spend very little time on weeknights preparing my dinner. Most weeknights I don’t even use the stove, just my little toaster oven.

Weekend cooking might be a batch of vegetarian chili, a cheesy potato salad or a barley risotto.

Last night I bought two salmon fillets, placed both on the foil covered tray for my toaster oven and spiced them up in two different ways for two meals: Salt, pepper and streaks of paprika (to simulate grill lines) on one and salt, pepper, pesto and a layer of Parmesan on the other. I turned the toaster oven to broil for 13 minutes and by the time my Caesar salad was done (from bagged hearts of romaine, bottled dressing, store bought croutons and some more Parmesan), the salmon was done.

It takes more skill to drive to McDonald’s for a fish burger.

In the frozen fish section of my supermarket they have Gorton’s haddock in sauce – two for around $6. Plop one in the toaster oven at 350 degrees and set for 30 minutes.

Do something else, and come back to eat. And, one of my tricks is making a wild rice pilaf from a package that yields two or even three servings. I then put one of those servings in a Pyrex dish on top of the toaster oven with foil over. By the time my fish is done, the rice is warm, too. (The same method works for warming up the cheesy potato salad while my store bought frozen Swedish meatballs thaw on “broil” for ten minutes.)

How hard is that?

2 Responses to ““I Don’t Cook” is an American Epidemic (But A Country Doctor Cooks)”


  1. 1 Spring Texan February 15, 2021 at 8:02 am

    I agree on simple cooking. It’s really weird that ppl don’t cook at all when it’s very simple to cook so many things. Many won’t even scramble an egg or make some toast for themselves.

    I have a friend who says the only reason she has a kitchen is that it came with the house.

    And eating that way seems both expensive and totally unsatisfying.

  2. 2 Elizabeth Champeon February 15, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Lost my spouse a year ago. I make up a full batch of quiches or shepherd’s pie in ramekins, cook them and then freeze them 3 minutes in the microwave and I have a lunch.


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