I Cooked Everyday for 30 Days (and This Is What I Learned)

cooked everydayBusy mom life rarely leaves much free time, and before anyone jumps to the next thought, yes — even for those of us who are stay-at-home moms. We are always busy doing something. When we pick up our little ones, we are probably exhausted with little capacity to prepare ingredients, cook a meal, clean it up, and get everyone ready for bed. I was no exception. It’s why I would hit up the drive-thru so often — the employees knew my name (and my order).

Chick-fil-A is probably my favorite fast-food restaurant. It was a big deal when the first one opened in St. Augustine, and when the Zaxbys (my second favorite fast-food restaurant), opened, it caused a divide in the Nation’s Oldest City. It was such a big deal that our school newspaper had an opinion section where teachers and students alike expressed their support and outrage at each location’s food quality.

The History and the Challenge

I could live off those restaurants — at least I used to be able to live off of them. Due to a recent major health situation, my diet and eating habits had to change. I began by cutting back my fast-food intake from 3–4 times a week, to once a week, to eventually none in October. In February this year, I decided to do a small experiment. I wanted to cook at home every day for 30 days with fresh ingredients, using as few pre-packaged foods as possible.

I’ve always loved food. Then again, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. When I say I love food, I mean I love to cook. I love pairing various flavors and blending the oddest spices together to create something delicious and beautiful. My love of experimenting in the kitchen stems a lot from spending time with my mother in the kitchen. We had almost two acres of land with a quarter acre of it dedicated to growing our own produce. She taught me a lot during my childhood and teen years. Even after I moved out, I knew I could call her and ask her advice or steal a recipe secret or two. I still do it to this day.

cooked everyday
cooked everyday

The Reality and Need

I think it is important to mention, I am not a chef. I am not classically trained. I rarely cook for others, and I certainly don’t do it as a side hustle (simply because I don’t think I have the skills for all of that). As I type this, I have Gordon Ramsey’s Uncharted playeing in the background for next week’s inspiration. I am still a busy mom. I run a nonprofit, and I take my son to appointments. I have my own health and wellness goals I need to keep working toward and a house to maintain. There is a lot to do every day — always something new, and I have 24 hours to get it done.

As a parent, it is my responsibility to set an example, to BE an example for my son. I have a 5-year-old son who is soaking up so much of what I do. Already, his behavior, personality, and mannerisms reflect his father and I. At an age where he is learning and absorbing everything we do, I wanted to make sure to include him in this journey and this experience. When he was 2, we would make fresh fruit smoothies every day. As he got older, these tasks became more involved. He would help me make coffee and stir vegetables on the stove. Now he helps me cut fresh ingredients before we start cooking. He’s just a remarkable little boy. I don’t want him to grow up living off of hot dogs and chicken nuggets. I want him to know how to cook and be self-sufficient, so he won’t be living off ramen when college inevitably comes.

cooked everyday
cooked everyday

What I Found

Over the last 30 days, I gained so much from this experience (and it wasn’t weight). I fell in love with cooking again. It was like the first time I successfully cooked a meal on my own. I look forward to cooking my next meal. I want to make big meals and cook for friends and family. I love walking through my own garden that Mark and I tend to, just to pick out fresh ingredients for dinner. I really enjoy having the opportunity to cook with my son and to make these little memories with him.

READ: Trust Me: Plant the Garden

When I cut out the fast food and eating at restaurants, I noticed that our family saved about $1,200 a month in food costs. My palette has expanded… just a tiny bit. I’ve become pickier about where I get my food, especially my produce. I admit that I am a snob when it comes to this, and I am okay with that. I have more cookbooks than self-help books. Speaking of self-help, cooking has become an outlet for me in order to handle all of life’s… well, shenanigans. This is exceptionally important because prior to this experience (and my health scare), my main coping mechanism was eating, typically something that resembles a Texas Roadhouse roll with cinnamon butter.

I’ve found joy in cooking again. I love to experiment with new combinations and ingredients, even if some of them just don’t taste all that great. I love feeling like someone on Top Chef, and I love that I get to include my son in this fun. Including Mark in these 30 days of cooking has allowed me to work toward empowering him to have confidence in his knife skills, and cooking ability, and to find the same sense of enjoyment I get out of this. This personal challenge of mine has definitely made an impact on our lives, and it’s one I hope to continue for as long as I can.

Brittany Hutto
Brittany Hutto was born and raised in a small (but fast-growing) town in Florida. She married her high school sweetheart and is the mother to the most kindhearted and adventurous little boy named Mark. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Florida where she majored in Public Health and Health Education. She served her community during her time working with underserved populations. After a complex pregnancy, she and her husband welcomed Mark to the world at 27 weeks and 4 days. She stepped away from her career to become a stay-at-home mom so that she could take her son to his many specialist appointments, therapies, and surgeries. She works tirelessly to ensure her son is happy, thriving, and meeting every milestone. Brittany enjoys many activities with her family. In her free time, you may find her reading a good book, spending time with her family out on the boat, DIY projects, and giving back to the local NICU. She currently manages her own blog which invites you to come along on her and her son’s journey from complex pregnancy, to the NICU, and every diagnosis and surgery in between. Brittany also manages a program called Mark’s Mission which gives back to local NICUs. She is an advocate for NICU support and research and is a current student pursuing her Master of Public Administration with concentrations in Nonprofit Management and Health Care Administration at the University of North Florida. Her dream is to establish Make Your Mark as a non-profit organization to give back to more local NICUs and serve as a resource for local parents with children who have superpowers.


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