x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 October 2017

There's no shame in choosing not to cook

There's a certain societal expectation that a woman's place is in the kitchen 

It’s 7.30pm and I’ve just arrived home from work. I open the front door, waking my cat. She stretches her legs before sauntering over to her scratching post. I walk into the kitchen, put my commuter mug in the sink, drop my bag on the floor and make my way to the couch, where I collapse and wait for my husband to arrive home from work so we can decide what to eat for dinner.

I’m hoping to squeeze in a quick episode of Game of Thrones before I choose and then iron my outfit for the next day.

This leaves about an hour for food, before it’s time for bed. Frankly, between a nine-hour work day and a one-hour commute in each direction, I have zero desire to stand in the kitchen, cooking.

Aside from the occasional cupcake-making spree, I’ve never been terribly fond of the kitchen, unless it entails boiling a kettle for a fresh cup of tea. Sure, if I really have to, I do have the skills to put together a few dishes – spaghetti bolognese and Thai green curry, for example. But when I’m mentally drained from work and have had stressful drive, my grey sofa looks far more inviting than the kitchen does.

Family members however, aren’t thrilled when they hear I’m not taking an active role in preparing meals. Some tip-toe around the issue, claiming that cooking for yourself is healthier then eating out or ordering food (we do resort to fast-food once or twice a week), while others are more blunt, telling me that part

of my duty as a wife is to cook for

my husband.

Still today, cooking is often used to define a woman’s worth. When meeting other women, particularly if they’re older, it’s not uncommon for the conversation to start with: “So, what kind of food do you cook?”

To which, my usual response is a meek, “not much”.

There should be no shame in not cooking – I hardly starve my family. My mother lives in Dubai and she often sends home-cooked meals to us. Those, combined with leftovers, an occasional Papa John’s or Subway delivery and a bit of cooking here and there are what we survive on.

Dubai now has plenty of options available for working residents who struggle to find the time to prepare meals. Cook-a-Box, for example, sends boxes of pre-measured groceries with recipes to your doorstep, with everything you need to make a meal for two or even four.

I personally find that in preparing meals, a big hurdle is making sure you have all the necessary ingredients for a recipe – there’s no bigger turn-off when it comes to making dinner than realising that you have to leave home to buy groceries first.

There are also meal plans available in the UAE from companies that promote healthy eating, like Kcal (which my husband and I tried for a month) and Right Bite. And, while they aren’t cheap, they’re convenient, healthy and a good choice for the time-poor among us.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the occasional cooking experience, and will perhaps become fonder of it later in life when my days are no longer consumed by a full-time job and an extended commute.

Until then however, my kitchen is open to any aspiring chefs looking for ways to spend their weeknights – I’ll happily do the dishes (and eat the results of their culinary creativity).

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Read more:

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How a trip to the beauty salon brings out the ugly side in some people

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