Often, the idea of cooking is followed up by these statements:
“I don’t have time”
“I don’t enjoy”
“I have better things to do”
We all enjoy eating, cooking on the other hand is considered to be a hassle by many of us. While it is more convenient to purchase readymade meals or order food, this is not always a healthy option. According to research, the consumption of fat, sodium, and overall calories increases when a person eats out. A study conducted at Harvard University deduced that among families that eat together there is an increased intake of nutrients such as calcium, fibre, iron, vitamin B-6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin C. Wow!
Here’s a useful resource focused on making family mealtimes one of the best times of the day!
One particular perk of consuming homemade food is that you are aware of what you are actually eating, there are no confusing food labels with ingredients you don’t even know what they are. Moreover, you can ensure that none of the ingredients was overly processed, preserved or not naturally occurring.
If cooking seems tedious to you, you can begin by looking at it from a fresh perspective. If you don’t enjoy cooking, remember the benefits of cooking nutritious home meals that nurture your body. If you think it’s a waste of time, keep in mind that cooking is not merely about eating healthy. In fact, it is about connecting with food and your loved ones when preparing family meals, eating together, sharing a meal and enjoying time around the table.
I changed my mindset towards cooking when I started considering it a self-care practice, as important as exercising and sleeping. It’s a daily ritual I enjoy each day and an investment in my health.
Trust me! Cooking is not as scary as you make it out to be.
Here are some tips to help you make cooking homemade meals into a habit and (I dare to say) a pleasurable experience:
- Plan and organise: My first suggestion would be to pull a ‘Marie Kondo’ in your kitchen. In other words, declutter the space and discard everything you don’t need as well as items that are expired. Then, clean up and rearrange things in an orderly manner. This way, your kitchen will be more of a happy space where you won’t hate spending time. Next, to create a new habit, you must plan, implement, and repeat. For instance, every Thursday, I plan out the meals we will be making for the week, and then, I prepare a shopping list. On Saturday, we do our shopping and because I already know what I need to get, it takes me less than 30 minutes (even less, if we opt for online shopping). Though it can take some time to organise everything, with experience, this will become automated and seamless.
- Start small: It is a good idea to start with uncomplicated meals. The majority of people do not do well when they start working out because they want to go from a couch potato into an avid gym-goer in one day. The same rule applies to cooking. If you don’t cook a lot currently, start by cooking once a week. With time, you will begin to enjoy the process and might want to cook more. Quick tip, do not push cleaning after cooking, as it can make the process more tedious than it needs to be.
- Get equipped: An artist requires tools. For anyone who cooks, there are certain components that their kitchen must be equipped with: a quality Chef’s knife; a few good pots and pans of different sizes; stainless steel 10″ skillet; cutting board; measuring cups and spoons; glass food containers that won’t leak; baking sheet and baking dish; stainless steel or glass mixing bowls; a set of cooking utensils such as spatula, spoon, etc., kitchen scale.
- Build your library: Search for recipes online, there are so many resources – blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, cookbooks, etc. Figure out what you liked and what worked well and build a library, so with time, you won’t have to be constantly searching for inspiration. Instead, you can go with the recipes that you have already tried, tested, and loved. Moreover, as you get comfortable with your kitchen, you will find it easier to develop new recipes.
- Encore: Try to cook more portions so you can use the leftovers for another meal. For instance, you can make several portions of soup and freeze the leftovers. You can also mix and match so you don’t eat the same food over and over again. For example, add the leftover of a roasted chicken to a salad. You can also cook a large batch of legumes or grains and freeze them in separate containers so you have good sources complex carbs always ready. Batch cooking during the weekend works pretty well to save some time during the weekdays that tend to be more chaotic.
- Buddy up: There are tons of online communities, wherein enthusiastic cooks share recipes, tips and recommendations. While it is undeniably a useful resource, it can also help make sure that you remain motivated and engaged with your cooking adventures. You can also chat with your buddies about food and even initiate cooking challenges. Or, better yet, invite your friends over for dinner.
- Share the load: I love to cook with my husband. If you have a partner or friend who enjoys cooking, make it into a team experience. Instead of being a lonely experience, it can be an opportunity to share, a good time to laugh, vent about any problems. You can even get your kids involved during this process, which will also increase the amount of quality time spent within your family. Moreover, it will instil healthy eating habits in your children early on, which will demonstrate long-standing benefits. However, you will need to put in extra time during cleanup and be patient, particularly if your child is still very young. But the pros outweigh the cons.
- Tune in: Cooking can be coupled with a variety of activities such as listening to music, dancing, enjoying your favourite podcasts, calling friends and family, etc. On some days, I prefer remaining quiet while cooking. In fact, I find the whole process peaceful and sensorial. Feeling the texture of the ingredients, using a knife to cut the vegetables, observing the various colours, and smelling fresh herbs and spices can be a transcendental experience. The experience of preparing a meal immersed in awareness is a satisfying, inexplicable experience. One major aspect of mindful cooking – at least for me- is a gratitude for the scrumptious food we can create.
- Make it easy: There is no shame in turning towards shortcuts to ensure that your life gets easier. You need not compromise on your health either. For instance, you can go for frozen fruits and vegetables to cut down cooking time, turn to recipes or veg box schemes, stock up on cooked legumes such as beans, chickpeas, etc. This can assist you in streamlining tasks while cooking.
- Upskill: Sometimes, cooking may not seem like a lot of fun if you feel as though you are incapable of making good food. You can change this attitude by taking up a cooking class. Online or offline- you can find an array of courses that teach several topics such as basic culinary skills, ethnic cuisine, vegetarian, etc. This is a fun way to spend a weekend and meet new people.
Go through the entire recipe, prep your ingredients and distribute them in different bowls in the required amount. Make sure that all your tools are ready. This will ensure that each step in the procedure is more streamlined as you seamlessly switch from prep to cooking.
Keep in mind that’s easier to continue a new habit if you appreciate its benefits. Hence, once you begin cooking at home, make it a point to stop once in a while and value what you have achieved, even if it’s a small step.