Do you joke around that you’re a “terrible cook” while chowing down on yet another frozen Lean Cuisine?
Learning how to cook can seem pretty daunting. Not to mention, finding the time to practice it! But if you’re committed to cooking more meals at home, let us help you get started.
The first step in building a sustainable cooking habit is to address your challenges head on and come up with rational solutions. Here are some of the most common reasons people say they can’t cook, and tips to overcome each one.
- Make cooking a priority
“No time” is one of the biggest excuses people use for not cooking, or for cooking in a rush. Truth is, you can find the time to cook at a comfortable, enjoyable pace, if you make it a priority. This means shifting around, or giving up, other activities that are lower priority.
In order to ‘weed out’ lower priority, time-wasting activities, we suggest you write a complete diary of how you spend your time each day, and review how much you value each activity. Consider whether these activities are more important than cooking yourself a healthy meal. Then, plan out a ‘perfect’ day where you swap your lower priority tasks with dedicated cooking time.
- Preparing your work lunch for tomorrow, instead of spending 30 minutes Instagraming on the couch.
- Waking up at 9am instead of 10am on a Saturday morning to make time for grocery shopping
- Changing from an evening spin class to a morning class, leaving time to cook dinner.
Give yourself a ‘one week’ trial adopting these changes, tweak as needed, and prove to yourself that you DO have time to improve, and enjoy, your cooking!
- Stock your kitchen.
In order to make cooking as easy and efficient as possible, make sure your kitchen is ready. We suggest you consider all the ingredients you will need to have on hand for preparing healthy meals, and how often you will need to replenish them.
You may want to do one large shop at the start of the challenge, purchasing all the food items you’ll need that have a longer shelf life, or that can be frozen, such as oats, quinoa, tinned fish and beans, frozen berries and vegetables. Even consider buying your meat, chicken and fish in bulk and freezing some portions. That way, you’ll only need to do small shops weekly or fortnightly to replenish the few perishable items you need. Keep a dedicated time for food shopping, so that you never run out of vegetables!
Straight after a shop is often the best time to start cooking, when you feel most inspired to use your ingredients. Give yourself an hour to organize your kitchen with prepped ingredients for the week, such as poaching chicken breasts, roasting sweet potato, boiling quinoa and cutting vegetable sticks. This will make mid-week meal prep easier!
- Start small, and build up your confidence
A lot of adults who are comfortable in the kitchen grew up with parents or other relatives who cooked a lot.
If you weren’t exposed to cooking as a child, and struggle with anything outside of your routine food rituals, we recommend you start by cooking really simple recipes. Ask your family and friends for ‘tried and true’ recipes with clear instructions. You can watch them cook first, or enlist their help on your first attempt.
Alternatively, you can find recipes with video clips or step-by-step pictures in the internet. We love watching YouTube clips of how to poach an egg, or how to cook the perfect fillet of salmon!
Once you have found your recipe, set aside some time, and GO FOR IT! Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day! And unlike baking, little mistakes in cooking often go unnoticed. The important thing is to start trying.
Once you are confident (and bored), find some more recipes to cook. Try watching a cooking show, and watch how the chefs chop their vegetables and marinate their proteins. You’ll learn new skills and get more efficient as you progress.
- Go to one source for your first few recipes
There are hundreds of thousands of recipes on the internet – this can be overwhelming if you’re looking for the ‘perfect dish’ to start your cooking journey. Instead of spending precious hours browsing, pick one website or book, and commit to choosing a few recipes from it. Alternatively, go straight to mum and ask her for the meatloaf and baked barramundi recipes you love. Remember, you will have plenty of opportunities to cook other recipes – a lifetime in fact!