From celebrating a loved one’s birthday to congratulating a colleague for a professional achievement, gift giving is one of the most common ways we can show someone we care about them. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about how we tend to prioritise physical gifts over meaningful experiences, even to those we’re very close to. And one gift I think is all too often overlooked is the simple act of sharing a homemade meal with someone. So, in this blog, I wanted to explore what makes cooking such a good gift, whether for a special celebration or just your random Tuesday.

Quality time

In this busy world, it can be very hard to prioritise spending quality time with the people you love, and physical gifts are a good way to show them you still care. But that also makes quality time much more valued, and cooking combines it with all the good things of normal gift giving, too. This is because cooking involves so much more than just putting a meal in front of someone. It involves knowing the person well, finding a good recipe (if you need one), buying the groceries, cooking the meal, eating it with them and then, to make it a full-fledged gift, cleaning up afterwards. It offers a whole new level of understanding, time and effort that’ll undoubtedly be appreciated by the receiver.


Bringing back memories

One of the most special things about food is its hidden talent for bringing back old memories and making new ones. There are two reasons for this. Experiencing food involves all of your senses, offering many different avenues for you to remember it with. But, more significantly, food has a smell! Hopefully it smells good, but either way, it’s the smell that helps it become so engrained in our memory. This is because smell is processed by the brain much faster than any other sense, meaning it’s often one of the first things we can relate back to a memory.

So, take advantage of this in your cooking! Does your loved one have a meal they used to cook with their grandmother? Or have you had a memorable moment together while eating a particular dish? A good meal doesn’t just have to be something that tastes amazing. If it brings back a good memory, it can be just as special. And to top it off, you might just be setting the scene for a new memorable experience too.

Deciding what to cook

Much of what makes this gift so impactful, is the thoughtfulness that goes into it. So, before you jump up to start prepping your ingredients, there are a few things worth considering. Ultimately, this is a gift, so rather than thinking about the foods you like to eat, think about the receiver:

  • What are their allergies, dietary requirements, likes and dislikes?
  • Do they usually prefer meals that are light, hearty, healthy or somewhere in between?
  • Is there a particular dish they rarely have, but always enjoy?
  • To take it a step further, you can even consider what kind of day they’ve had. If it’s likely been stressful, they might prefer comfort food, or if it’s a celebration, consider making something that’ll pair well with their favourite glass of wine.

Now that you’ve refined your options a bit, you can start looking for a recipe. But remember to choose something within your skillset. If you’re still a beginner, as exciting as it might seem to make a fancy, three course meal, you might be better off focusing on making one dish really well. And if you want a few courses, there’s no harm in buying a pre-made dessert to enjoy afterwards.

It’s the thought that counts

If cooking isn’t one of your forte’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking this isn’t the best kind of gift for you to give. What makes cooking such a special gift, though, isn’t how extravagant or tasty the meal is at the end; it’s the time, effort and care that one took to make it. And, if cooking isn’t something you do often, it becomes that much more meaningful. So, whether you find a recipe online, or get everything delivered from a meal-kit like VegMeUp, even the most basic dish can show your love.

Cooking’s good for the chef too

Taking the time to cook a good meal isn’t just a nice gift for someone else, it can also be a good way to practice self-care. And best of all? It doesn’t even have to be a healthy dish. By focusing on the act of cooking and the present moment, one can experience a form of mindfulness meditation which can reduce stress and increase happiness. So, while you’re cooking, be sure to try some mindfulness techniques, so you can reap the benefits too.

Have fun

Cooking is an amazing way to try new things, express some creativity, and spend time with your loved ones all in the safety of your own home. So, make the most of it. If you make a mistake, don’t stress, it doesn’t need to be perfect. And, to make it even more of a memorable experience, if your loved one is around while you’re cooking, let them help! Turn the music up loud, dance, sing, have fun and enjoy your tasty creation at the end.

Simplify the process with a meal kit

Finding your own recipes and ingredients can seem overwhelming, which is where a good meal-kit can come in handy. With new recipes to choose from each week, we can deliver all the ingredients with personally-tested recipes so you know they’ll taste amazing. Choose three to four plant-based meals and let your loved one choose the one they’ll enjoy the most on the day.

Good luck.

With love,