Recently I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends about their eating habits, and I’ve found that I’m pretty singular in preferring to spend time at home cooking on a regular basis. Most people seem to prefer to eat out, mainly thanks to the convenience and variety restaurants offer. In fact, millennials reportedly spend almost half of their food budget on eating out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing or a good thing, just a fact. Some say it might be problematic due to the high calories and fat content associated with restaurant food, while others say it’s just a sign of millennials' dedication to their careers and other pursuits. Whatever it might be, I do feel like I would be missing out on a crucial part of my self-care routine if I wasn’t preparing and eating food made by myself most of the week.

One of my favorite parts of my weekly cooking routine is meal-prepping. So far, my boyfriend and I have managed to meal prep four lunches each and every week in 2018. This not only means that we are forced to plan our lunches ahead of time, but we also get to spend a couple hours on a Sunday or a Monday evening together making them. It’s always a nice end to my weekend or beginning to my week. The process of working together with someone you love on something that makes both of your lives easier during the week is a very satisfactory feeling. That in itself brings me more peace than any fancy meal out ever could.

Another reason why cooking has been very fulfilling has been thanks to my personal goal of creating less waste. I’m definitely not on a trash-free lifestyle yet, but I have been incredibly conscious of my output into this world. One of the ways I’ve been trying to reduce waste is never throwing food away. This means that I’ve been limiting my food purchases to what I can eat, and a lot of repurposing leftovers and extra bits into something creative and new. Whatever food scraps do have to get thrown away now go into my new compost bin instead of the garbage. This reduction in output makes me happy knowing that I’m not contributing as much waste into landfills and pollution as I perhaps might have been before.

The process of preparing foods to be cooked is also sometimes so repetitive and relatively mindless that it’s almost the same as the adult coloring books that some of my friends swear by. It’s just enough mental effort to take me out of myself without feeling like I’m draining all my mental energies on this one task. It's often one of the first things I do when I walk in the door of my apartment, so it also sets me up for a more productive night than just sitting and scrolling through Instagram for 45 minutes like I did before.

I think the ultimate reason why cooking has been so calming to my soul the past few months is that it’s a creative outlet that has a tangible result. I think so many of us live digital lives that seem so amorphous and sometimes unfulfilling. A lot of us are also in periods of transition where we feel like we don’t really have a lot of control over our lives — whether it be careers, relationships or health. Cooking — especially cooking for yourself or loved ones — can be a way to take control of a process from beginning to end without any interference. The results are totally up to your abilities, nothing else.