If you truly are what you eat, then what do your meals say about your retirement right now?
Same old, same old?
Then maybe it's time to spice up your weekly meal rotation and improve your Return on Life in the process. Here are four reasons why retirees should embrace their inner foodie and make cooking a more important part of retirement.
1. Cooking is good for you.
You already know that a meal you cooked yourself is usually healthier than fast food. As you age, it's going to become more and more important that you diversify your meals with a variety of fresh ingredients so that you're getting the nutrition you need to stay active and keep enjoying your retirement.
But cooking also stimulates a range of cognitive processes, including planning, problem solving, multitasking, measurement and math, hand-eye coordination, and memory. Cooking a meal you've never made before also provides the satisfaction of learning something new and the opportunity to revise and improve on subsequent tries.
2. Cooking complements your retirement budget.
No, skipping the proverbial $5 cup of coffee every day probably isn't going to make anyone rich, or make your nest egg last longer. But once you're living on a fixed income -- and, hopefully, spending more time away from home doing things you love -- the convenience of carrying out and on-demand delivery could start to add up quickly. Planning out your meals ahead of time can help you control your food costs. And if you skip a few trips through the drive-thru and stick to your weekly budget, you might enjoy a big weekend meal with your spouse even more.
3. Cooking provides purpose.
Many retirees feel lost without the structure and responsibilities of their old jobs. Becoming your own household chef is a great way to fill in at least three big blocks of your daily retirement schedule. If cooking dinners sounds too intimidating, start with breakfast. Unless you have an early tee time or volunteer shift, you no longer have to rush out the door every morning! Take it easy. Create a new, slower, more relaxing routine to ease yourself into the day, starting with a good cup of coffee you brewed yourself and a breakfast that you didn’t pour out of a cereal box.
4. Cooking makes connections.
Food brings people together. Taking a cooking class, shopping at a farmer’s market, and reaching out to other aspiring chefs on social media can broaden your retirement social network and connect you to new people who share your interests. These peers and pros can offer some support and guidance as you continue to broaden your tastes and improve your skills.
Of course, the only thing more satisfying than enjoying a good meal you cooked yourself is sharing it with other people. Test out a few new recipes on your spouse or your adult children. When you’re feeling more confident in what you’re making and how you’re making it, invite your friends, family, and neighbors over for some special meals. You could also start a recipe swap or a rotating monthly potluck dinner to make your love of food a more meaningful part of your most important relationships.
And if you decide to invest more of your time and money into cooking, who knows where that passion could take you. Enrolling in a local culinary institute? Learning a new language? A big trip abroad to sample the authentic cuisine you want to bring into your kitchen?
We’d love to hear what’s on your menu for retirement and talk about how our Life-Centered Planning process can make every course more fulfilling.