Cooking - Balancing Convenience, Quality, and Taste - Aspire Natural Health

Cooking – Balancing Convenience, Quality, and Taste

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The three primary complaints I hear about eating ‘healthier’ are:

  1. Cost
  2. Convenience
  3. Taste



It’s true eating healthier is generally more expensive, and depending on your budget you may have to settle for varying degrees of healthier (not everyone can afford organic, free-range, artisinal everything; nor do we need to to be healthy).

Our grandparents and great-grandparents often ate healthier (than we do) on a shoestring budget by using simple ingredients.

My argument is that for most of us the problem isn’t cost alone as much as it’s cost and lack of time.

And that gets into the second issue – convenience.

Most of us are strapped for time.

And reaching for a box, bag or can is faster and easier than having to prepare food.

That’s where things like batch cooking come in. Having something prepared means all you have to do is reach into the fridge and reheat.

As for taste, something we’re also going to touch on here, most people’s taste buds have been bombarded by sweet, salty and fatty tastes from processed food, and therefore real food tastes bland and weird in comparison.

Once people make the effort to begin eating real food however they find that the food is actually taster, with subtler (less ‘club you over the head’) and more nuanced flavors than processed food.

Two types of cooking

There are two different types of cooking most of us do:

  1. Everyday cooking – typically your ‘normal’ weekday cooking
  2. Special’ cooking – typically your weekend cooking or for special events like parties, guests, celebrations, etc.

An to understand the difference, we have to look at…

The three variables of cooking

  1. Speed/convenience
  2. Quality – the quality or healthfulness of the ingredients
  3. Taste

You can’t have all three unless you have the money to hire your own personal chef.

At best we get two. Let’s give a couple of examples.

  1. Fast food (and most processed food) – convenience, then taste (sort of – sweet, salty and fatty tastes are maximized, ‘real’ tastes…not so much) Quality/healthfulness not important.
  1. Gourmet restaurant food – taste and quality/healthfulness and speed a distant last. Some of these meals take hours to prepare.

So, taking these three variables to our two types of cooking we see:

  1. Everyday cooking – we don’t want to sacrifice quality/healthfulness in our meals, but speed/convenience is going to be primary for those of us with over-busy lives. It’s not that we can ignore taste, none of us are going to eat things that don’t taste good, but we’re going to have to realize we can’t have gourmet meals without the time. So we’re looking for healthy meals that taste ‘good enough’ and that are FAST. Luckily with a little kitchen learning and some good recipe books, we can have that.
  2. ‘Special cooking’ – we still want to keep the quality/healthfulness, but here we especially want to bring up the taste, and to do that we’re going to have to take time. So these aren’t going to be daily meals for most of us, but at the same time, with our regular focus on convenient meals we shouldn’t forget to enjoy tastier special meals as well. After all food is one of the great joys of life.

An Example

Here’s my super easy crock pot chicken.

  1. Take one whole chicken, rinse and place in crockpot
  2. Pour some oil and rub on skin, then rub on a ‘Chicken spice’ blend of herbs.
  3. Add water or chicken broth to bottom of crock pot
  4. Cook on low until dinner time

Total time to prepare about 5 minutes, and assuming you remember to put it in before going off for your day, super easy. It’s tasty ‘enough’.

Let’s contrast that with a roast chicken from Heston Blumenthal’s show ‘How to Cook Like Heston’

  1. Take one whole chicken and undo trussing which allows the chicken wings and legs to open up
  2. Brine – Add 4 tablespoons of salt to every 32oz of water, have enough water to cover chicken. Put chicken in brine, cover and place in fridge overnight.
  3. Remove and dry, remove wish bone.
  4. Stuff chicken with thyme and a whole lemon
  5. Rub butter over chicken
  6. Roast at 90C/190F for 90 minutes
  7. Then check temperature of breast with probe thermometer. Aiming for 60C/140F internal temperature. Cook longer if needed.
  8. Allow chicken to rest out of oven uncovered for 45 minutes
  9. Then turn heat in your oven to the highest setting and return to oven for 10 minutes to brown skin

Total time: Overnight + say 10-15 minutes prep + 90 minutes + 45 minutes + 10 minutes

Taste: I’m sure MUCH better than my crockpot chicken, but, if you’re like me, not something you’re going to do on a regular basis.

So by balancing convenience, quality, and taste, we can still eat healthy without having to be in the kitchen an unrealistically long time.


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Another Interesting post:

How to Eat at Restaurants When You Have Food Sensitivities