I’ve been cooking quite a bit lately, which is new for me. There are all kinds of reasons home cooking tumbled down my priority list for so long, but it’s something I really wanted to change in 2010: less prepackaged last-minute foraging, more thoughtful planning and preparation.

It seems like I kept thinking about it but not making any actual effort to change our eating habits, and then I saw Food, Inc. Holy god, you guys. All I can say about that documentary is that it gave me the exact kick in the ass I needed to stop thinking and start acting.

I really don’t want to be an Obnoxious Food Douche on top of being a Tiresome Fitness Douche, so I won’t bore you with all the details of our newfound organic craze (although I am of course writing about it here, because if there is one thing I can’t get enough of, it’s obsessively documenting the minutiae of my thrilling day to day existence. Why, you should see my food journal!), but I will say how rewarding it’s been to put some actual effort into creating our meals. Instead of tearing open a bag or opening a can or just rooting in the fridge, I’m flitting between pots and pans and cutting boards and poking my face in the oven and doing millions of loads of dishes and jesus my feet hurt from that hard-ass tiled floor but it’s all making me so happy.

I’ve spent the last few years relying heavily on Amazon’s grocery delivery service. It’s been enormously convenient, and the fact that I can place an order in the morning and have it waiting for me when I get home from work has been awesome. But for all the time it saved me, I lost any feeling of connection with what I was buying and what we were eating. I shopped by clicking heavily branded product links, one after another, the exact same way you buy anything else on Amazon. Hell, they’ve even got user ratings on each food item, because god knows we all need to know if other buyers thought that bread was worth 3.5 or 4 stars. (Too bad they haven’t yet included reviews.)

I was falling into a rut of coming home from work and downing a bowl of cereal, the kids having already eaten PB&Js or macaroni and cheese for the thousandth time. We bought the same things week after week and rarely dirtied a pan. Things were constantly rotting in the vegetable crisper while the shelves contained an overabundance of colorfully-packaged things loaded with corn syrup and processed flour.

Planning, shopping for, and preparing our food is a big change. It requires time and effort, whether that’s actively working in the kitchen or thinking ahead to the next few meals. But you know, it’s funny, I feel so much better—not just because I believe we’re eating healthier food, but because I’m addressing a part of our family life I think was starting to fall apart. It isn’t always possible to have a nice sit-down meal with two working parents and two young kids, but we’re doing it a lot more than we were before, and cooking—really cooking—the food that we eat seems to . . . I don’t know how to describe it, exactly. It’s like some broken loop is being closed. Like something I didn’t even know was so important to me is finally being addressed.

Plus, homemade bread. God damn.

Oat bread

Granola with almonds

Fresh homemade pasta

Stuffed peppers with quinoa & ground beef

Pancakes with applesauce, flax, and almond butter

Whole wheat pizza with prosciutto and pineapple

(Click through for recipes.)

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