Even a simple one.
When you're cooking something, you're actually investing time into creating a meal. And any form of investment to me has some form of ROI, whether it be the meal itself, or the effort put into it, or the fact that you're actually using the appliances and cookware that you own.
I remember when I first moved into my apartment, I didn't cook my first meal until around the 3 month mark. Yes, crazy I know, but that's a story for another day. Anyway, I remember when I finally cooked something it was the first time I felt at home even though my place was barely maneuverable due to stacks of boxes that had yet to be unpacked. Albeit the meal was a simple one—fried eggs with Chinese sausage and nori over a bed of rice—it was the first time that I felt rooted.
Now, when I say meal, I'm talking about a real one, made with ingredients that require prepping and pots, pans, or an appliance to cook with. Microwaveable dinners and cup noodles do not fall under this category, tempting as they may. However, I wouldn't write off packaged ramen if it's cooked over a pot and veggies and/or protein are added to the mix.
My point is the kitchen is most often the heart of a home. Every house gathering I've been to have always included food to some degree. But the ones that felt most home-like always included some delicious concoction cooking on the stove or in the oven. I'm not sure why, really. Maybe it has to do with your senses being on alert when you're cooking? Either way, it's one of the key things I've discovered that instantly makes a space feel lived in.
P.S. This series is inspired by Erin's "Life In A Tiny Apartment" posts on Reading My Tea Leaves. I've followed her blog for years and am particularly fond of her posts on how to live minimally. When I moved into my own tiny apartment last year, I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to create the space that I had envisioned when I signed the lease since I had SO much stuff (read crap). But her posts about living minimally helped shape my own ideas and discoveries of what it means to make a space feel special.