Before you go buy those frozen dinners or order in a pizza, you should consider cooking. For a university student, cooking is most often associated with stress and annoyance. Maybe it's that thing you only do when you have lots of spare time.

Once you move out of residence and have to feed yourself, cooking can become a nuisance; it takes time and energy, which none of us have an abundance of. However, cooking at home can not only yield healthier and more satisfying food, but comes with many mental health benefits as well. 


Blonde, cuttingboard, cucumber, carrot, Kitchen, girl, foodprep
Julia Gilman

Cooking for yourself has endless benefits. You are more likely to have lower blood pressure, as restaurant diners consume around 20% more sodium than those that stay home to cook. You can control what you buy, and actively choose to create healthier meals. In terms of mental health, the benefits of cooking include helping alleviate depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses. The therapeutic power is so strong that mental health clinics are using cooking as a type of behavioural therapy.

Mental health benefits

coffee, beer, pizza
Nancy Chen

Eating right is endlessly important to mental health as it can increase levels of serotonin, which makes you feel happier. On a chemical level, eating the right foods can help you do that, but also the act of cooking with all the chopping and whisking is very meditative and relaxing.

Some also consider cooking to be behavioural activation. To cook, you need to be engaged and focused. It is an activity that focuses on mindfulness, and can be fulfilling since it has plenty of small, easy, and achievable goals. Cooking also involves creativity and acts the same way that painting or drawing does. 

Cooking for more than one

Tegwyn Hughes

Cooking plays a big part in my day to day life. I grew up baking and in high school, I would always use baking as a stress reliever. Without fail, it was something that made me feel calm and happy. Now that I'm in university, I've found that cooking has taken its place. Cooking is something that I now need to do for myself, and learning to cook well has been friendly to my diet and to my wallet. 

In addition to cooking for yourself, cooking for others can reap even more benefits. There are so many psychological, social and biological benefits of eating meals with other people. Having a meal with other people at the same time every day can give you, and those around you, a sense of security and familiarity. Cooking or baking for someone else shows that person you really care. 

cake, cupcake, candy, sweet, chocolate, sushi
Grayce Nieberle

If you've ever had to have a really hard conversation with someone, doing it over a meal can relieve some of the tension. My housemates and I try and eat Sunday dinner together every week. During this time we can just chill and spend time together, or we can have some of the more uncomfortable conversations that come with living with a bunch of university students.

By now, you know that there are a lot of mental health benefits of cooking, but is it worth it? You're stressed and you don't have time to cook because you have that test and that paper to write and you're just overwhelmed. It's a lot easier to heat something up, to order in, or to just skip a meal entirely. But I can assure you that cooking is worth it. It doesn't even have to be complicated. At the end of the day, it helps make you a happier and healthier person, which makes it all worth it.