The kitchen. Some people love to spend hours and hours in the kitchen creating culinary delights (and messes). For others, the kitchen is a place of necessary drudgery and nothing more. I fall somewhere in between. I don't mind cooking and baking and at times even enjoy it. But I do not, repeat DO NOT like to spend a large amount of time in the kitchen everyday. That starts to feel like culinary bondage. A large kitchen session once or twice a week (especially if it ends with some great food)? Count me in.
As I was attempting to feed the family only non-processed foods that also involved large amounts of time in the kitchen making bread, muffins, preparing meat, and cutting veggies. It made me realize just how much processed bread-like products we consume in massive quantities: bread, tortillas, muffins, crackers, poptarts, cereals, bagels...you get the idea. And like I said before, homemade bread is an experience all in itself. A slice of freshly baked bread with a little butter or jam (or both) brings a joy that store bought bread will never come close to matching. But even with a bread machine (my BFF for a few weeks), it takes time. Time most of us either don't have or it's not how we prefer to spend our hours.
One blog that I've loved consulting is "100 days of real food" by Lisa Leake. She makes all kinds of crazy things from scratch, including poptarts. While I've been inspired by her, I've also felt overwhelmed. If you read about all her kitchen time and emphasis on everything being unprocessed it frankly is a little hard to measure up. Recently she kept track of her time in the kitchen: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2012/06/25/how-much-time-i-spend-kitchen/. Long story short, she spends lots of time. 2.5-3 hours a day. And as she admits, she loves it and the quality of food is worth it. But I know for me not only is that not often practical. I also don't enjoy that much time in the kitchen.
So here's the question: do you have to be able to spend lots of time in the kitchen to eat healthy? Well, yes and no. Depends on what you want to eat. Most fruits take little or no time to prep. Same with many raw veggies. It's a matter of finding quick prep, healthy foods. Also making foods in larger quantities when you are in the kitchen and using the leftovers later. Summer is a perfect time to eat healthy and save time in the kitchen. Grilling meats and veggies takes very little time compared to making your own poptarts.
As for me, I'll stick mainly with the quicker prep whole foods...eggs, fruits, veggies, cooking meat in bulk and freezing, and grilling. When I do feel the whim to prepare some bread or muffins or other longer prep recipes in the kitchen, I'll try to make in bulk and freeze so future meals can be quick as well. Even when I have the time, I don't want to spend that much time in the kitchen (there, I said it). And I'll do my best not to be intimidated by the men and women who find joy spending hours in the kitchen making things I've never dreamed possible.