For some people, cooking is a passion. Like my brother-in-law, they love trying new recipes, experimenting with different flavors, and feeding their friends and family. For many other people cooking is a chore. At times most of us are tired of answering the eternal question “What’s for dinner” At the beginning of November we discussed finding inspiration to cook. The best advice when trying new dishes is to avoid complicated recipes and start small. Perhaps a sheet pan dinner or a slow cooker meal are easy ways to try something new.
That was followed by a post on upgrading our cooking skills and ways to learn and expand our culinary knowledge. Let’s face it – cooking is an essential life skill if you want to eat healthy real food. Last week I shared some of my favorite flavors and food moments to help us adapt our menus to the cold weather.
What else can help us to cook and eat better? Let’s start with our kitchens.
I. Organize & Decorate Your Kitchen
If you cook meals, then the kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the home. HGTV ‘s post, 10 Steps to an Orderly Kitchen, has step by step directions to create order. You empty the cabinets and re-evaluate each item to place in the traditional 3 groups: keep, give away, or throw away. Then you can begin to plan what goes in what cabinet and what you need to add. To make cooking easier invest in the right tools and equipment. Then organize your kitchen better with like items grouped together. Make sure all stored items are in clear containers. Use lazy Susans, drawer dividers, and vertical space. See HGTV‘s post for more information on how to make your kitchen attractive, functional, and easy to use.
Remember to get started by getting rid of stuff in the room that you don’t need. Make sure your cupboards and drawers are properly organized and then evaluate any unused wall space. Is there room for shelves? When you’re buying new tools or equipment, think ahead to how your kitchen will look. Paint the walls and decorate your kitchen. Add a houseplant or two. Choose tools that go well together in style. The goal is to have a space where you feel comfortable and have everything you need to cook. It makes it easier to spend time there.
II. Meal Plan & Grocery Shop
Once the kitchen and pantry are organized, it’s time to review menu planning and select a planning system. There is a lot of information online about meal planning. A lot of major cooking sites have information and/or forms for planning. Figuring out what to eat every day can be stressful, especially when already juggling a busy schedule that includes work, family, and social obligations. Often, people end up scraping together last-minute meals or giving up and ordering food delivery. If you have never planned menu’s before, I suggest you read several posts on meal planning like The Kitchn‘s: The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning: What to Know, How to Succeed, and What to Skip. Check out McCall’s Meal Planner with an app. Skinny Taste has tons of weekly meal plan ideas. For those who like videos, check out The Dairy Council of California‘s video, “How to Plan Healthy & Nutritious Meals“. Planning out what you’re going to eat for the week makes life easier.
If you’re going to cook more at home then you must set aside time to meal plan and grocery shop. Figure out what types of foods you like eating and find some new recipes to tackle once you feel more comfortable in the kitchen. You can successfully plan out your meals by looking up recipes in recipe books and online and then writing down what you need to buy from the store. As a good starting point, you can check out Preppy Kitchen‘s recipe for vegetable soup here . There is nothing better than cozying up with a big bowl of vegetable soup. It’s much tastier than soup from a can without requiring a ton of effort. It’s a healthy, comforting, and hearty soup that everyone will love. It is perfect for a cold day or for using up what you have in the fridge.
III. Give Yourself Enough Time
You want cooking to be fun and enjoyable and not stressful if it’s going to become a habit. Therefore, give yourself plenty of time to prepare your food and cook your meals. You want to avoid being on a tight schedule and in a rush when it’s time to cook. It may be helpful to do some of the work on the weekends if you’re busy during the week with work and a family. The Kitchn has an informative article, 5 Practical Things That Help You Make Time To Cook. The first suggestion is meal planning. Another big help is planning time for doing meal prep, cooking, and freezing in batches. Planning ahead should be a top priority. Another tip is to use machines to cut down on work in the kitchen. Slow cookers and instant pots are just 2 of many time saving devices.
IV. Enjoy Home-Cooked Meals
One of the best parts about cooking for yourself is that you get to eat the food. Take the time to enjoy your home-cooked meals and share them with others if possible. Set your table, sit down, and mindfully taste the food you made. If you have kids in your home then get them involved in menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. They can help you and become better cooks as well. Wishing you cozy meals this winter with those you care about.
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