We all probably know we should be making more home-cooked meals. It’s much healthier since we can control what goes into our food. Eating together as a family has lots of benefits within itself, as those that eat together tend to have closer bonds. There may be lots of reasons you don’t cook as much as you should, and often find yourself resorting to easy yet unhealthy pre-packaged foods, carry outs, and junk food. Here are a few changes you can make to get into the kitchen and start cooking more.
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Learn about nutrition and cooking
If you’re a complete beginner in the kitchen, doing a bit of research and learning the basics can be really helpful. You can pick up tips watching cooking shows, reading cookery books and watching videos on Youtube. You could even join a local cooking class if you want something a bit more interactive- where you can ask questions and get feedback as you go along. Learning about nutrition is another smart move, knowing what makes a healthy and balanced diet helps you to tailor your recipes and creations. For example, finding alternative ways to make your food taste good instead of loading it with sugar, salt and saturated fat (for example, using herbs and spices instead) enables you to create tasty family meals that with help rather than hinder your health.
Start meal planning
One of the reasons most people give as to why they don’t cook is because they claim they don’t have time. And admittedly, cooking from scratch can be time consuming depending on what you’re making. However, there are things you can to to reduce the time you’re spending on each meal. Start off by meal planning, write a menu with the meals you plan on making that week. You can then shop to a list when you go to the supermarket and have the exact ingredients you need when it comes to make each dish. If you spend an hour on a Sunday prepping veggies for the week, portioning out meat and seasoning it and generally tackling all of the little jobs, when you come to cook your meals it will be as simple as putting everything together. If time is really of the essence, plan meals on your busiest days that are simple and fast. It doesn’t mean you need to resort to ordering junk food or microwave meals, there are plenty of quick and healthy dishes you can make in the time it takes a frozen pizza to cook in the oven. Scour Pinterest, cookery books and recipe sites and save all of your favourites, then when it comes to creating your menu you’re not having to think up ideas or resort to the same things week in, week out.
Stock up your store cupboard
Having a well stocked store cupboard is essential for every home cook. Most recipes will call for a pinch of this and a dash of that, instead of having to buy things as you go, stock up on the basics ahead of time. Popular herbs and spices since these will be used in most dishes. Tinned vegetables as bases for your sauces, dried pasta, rice and noodles can all be bought in bulk and will last a long time if you store them away properly. It’s a cost upfront, but from there it will save you money on your food shopping each week. You can cook just about every recipe by just purchasing the basic ingredients where you have your staples at home ready to be used.
Upgrade your kitchen
As the saying goes, the kitchen is the heart of the home. So if yours stresses you out, it’s time to make a change. If you’re going to be spending time cooking and preparing food, it makes sense that you have a decent place to do so. If your kitchen is very small, pokey and badly laid out you might want to consider a full revamp- an extension on the side or removing a wall to create an open plan layout to the lounge are both options. If the space is ok, giving it a refresh with a coat of paint, some wall shelving and new accessories can all bring it up to scratch. Utilise every nook and cranny, pull out pantry shelving, baskets and all other kinds of cool storage can be implemented here. Have a declutter, get rid of things you don’t use and organise what’s left. If you can easily access the things you need, you’ll be more inclined to get in there and cook from scratch. It will save you time and hassle.
Buy the right equipment
If you’re trying to get by with appliances which have very little power, blunt knives, burned pans and you’re lacking half the equipment you need, it’s worth going shopping. Buy yourself the basics, a good food processor, some good quality stone frying pans, baking trays, sharp knives and utensils. That way when a recipe calls for you to follow a certain method or technique, you have everything you need in place to do so. It’s worth buying quality items that will last you a long time, instead of buying cheap and having to constantly replace them.
See cooking as a hobby
Cooking will always seem like a chore if you view it that way. Sure, it’s a means to an end- we eat because we’re hungry and need nutrition. But it can also be a fantastic way to explore your creativity, experiment and have fun. If cooking becomes a hobby, preparing meals from scratch won’t seem like such a pain as you’ll actually enjoy it. It can be frustrating when you spend time cooking for your dish not to work out, but getting some background knowledge behind you and starting with simple recipes and working your way up is the best plan of action. As with anything, practice makes perfect and the more you cook and put out great meals, the more confident you’ll become and the more enjoyable it will be.