We don’t like it when politicians want to invade the kitchen. As plausible as the facts are that make it clear that our eating habits must change, the cookbook is not a party show, the dining room table is a protected space, the epitome of privacy. Demands for bans and exemptions can be well organized in the media and can go viral on Twitter, but that’s exactly the problem: Instead of conducting highly ideological debates and fighting culture wars over menu supremacy, there’s an obvious recipe. Too little thought is given to that: above all, a sustainable lifestyle requires the mind of a smart housewife.
cook with time
The lifestyle of the future is in the past. We can learn from our grandmothers. In three aspects, first with a view to treating food with respect, then with the question of how the difference between everyday life and holidays can be emphasized through the menu and finally: Cooking with love means cooking with time.
The statistics speak for themselves: In Germany, around 75 kilograms of food per capita are thrown away every year. Every year around twelve million pieces of food are wasted in Germany. Our grandmothers would scoff at numbers like that. Not only because they belong to the generation that has experienced hunger and therefore knew that it is not a matter of course to be able to get a lot in the supermarket. But also because such wasteful buying behavior just isn’t worth it. The housewife obeys the veto power of her portfolio.
Throwing it away puts a strain on your wallet
If, on average, one out of every three shopping bags you take home ends up in the bin, then you feel it, especially in your wallet. And that hurts concretely, more than any abstract reference to supposed global effects. Our grandmothers kept a household book: if you make a list of your purchases and the associated expenses, it is not so easy to lose count. Grandma knew where there was a shortage of supplies in the pantry. She already looks ahead to the week in a planned way.
This has consequences for the handling of leftover food. Instead of ending up in the bin, they can be used for other dishes the next day. So Grandma’s first commandment is: Plan what you buy. Keep Track Your wallet will thank you.
Eating isn’t just about filling up. The menu also offers the opportunity to set accents and thus give the different days a special character. Josef Pieper wrote in his “Theory of the Party”: “Holding a party means: celebrating the approval of the world, which has always been carried out every day, for a special reason in an unusual way.” Of course, our grandmothers were not philosophers, but they were intuitively clear that everyday life is not a holiday, but when a holiday is coming, it should be celebrated in an “unusual way”. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a festival.
The classic example: the Sunday roast. If it were also at the table from Monday to Friday, there would no longer be the option of highlighting Sunday with a special dish. It helps us Catholics to take a look at the ecclesiastical year: why not emphasize the important holidays of the daily routine by putting something special on the table? And that brings us to Grandma’s second commandment: if you don’t want every day to be the same, put accents in the kitchen. A holiday meal is served on holidays, not otherwise.
outsourced food supply
And finally there is the time factor: this is where the biggest difference in the living environment of our grandmothers, who were usually full-time housewives, becomes apparent. Families today often lack a person who can focus and take care of household chores. Therefore, the family’s food supply is often outsourced to the catering trade or to the many delivery services. Certainly there is no proprietary solution here. And the problems that force many families to have both parents work and therefore not have time for home are not solved with cheap resources.
But here too you can move forward, at least by taking small steps: eating together and preparing it can become a family event. Together you can think about what to cook for the week, shopping can be shared between different shoulders, children can get involved in the kitchen with small tasks. The effect created in this way leads to Grandma’s third and perhaps most important commandment: preparing food is not just a compulsory exercise. Cook with love and take your time.
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