Has your hatred of cooking held you back from eating healthier? Let’s face it, no matter what dietary pattern you follow, it requires some cooking. Eating out is fine once in a while, but those meals are never the healthiest. No matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid it. If you want to eat healthfully, you’re going to have to cook a little. Don’t worry though. I’ve got your back with this post full of tips and tricks to make it less of a hassle and even a little fun.
Cooking Is Boring
Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s all in how you approach it. Here are some great ways to make your time in the kitchen a little more fun.
I don’t know about you, but music has always had a huge influence on my mood. If I’ve got music on it’s never long before I’m dancing around my kitchen. Try putting on some music you love or picking an upbeat playlist to serve as a soundtrack to your meal prep.
If you aren’t a music lover, try putting on a podcast instead. There are now podcasts on practically any topic you could want. Listen in on murder mysteries, learn a thing or two about a subject you’re interested in or get some motivation from a favourite show. Audiobooks are on the rise as well. If you don’t have a favourite podcast or two, maybe listen to that new book you’ve been dying to read instead.
Netflix and Cook
Netflix is another source of entertainment you can use while cooking. Throw on your favourite binge-worthy comedy or that show you’ve been meaning to catch up on and multitask a little. Anything to take your mind off of a mundane task you don’t enjoy. Just be sure to keep it safe. Watch what you’re doing while using a knife or cooking with heat.
Grab a Partner
Cooking doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Grab your significant other or invite a friend over and cook together. If you’re chatting and joking around, it won’t feel so boring or lonely. After all, time flies when you’re having fun.
Find recipes you’re excited about trying. Or use old standbys that you absolutely love. You’ll have something to look forward to and will be far more interested in the end product. Cooking something you love feels like less of a chore
Prep Can Be a Pain
I hear you there. Sometimes it can feel like you’re spending more time chopping components than actually cooking the meal. Here are some tips to help with the pain of prep.
Use a Good Knife
Seriously, there is nothing worse than trying to chop up your vegetables with an old dull knife. You’re actually far more likely to have a mishap with a dull knife than a sharp one. A dull knife will have trouble breaking through the surface and is more likely to slip. So, set yourself up with at least one good knife (a chef’s knife is a good all-purpose choice) and a sharpener to keep it from getting dull and chopping will be much less of a chore.
Practice Your Knife Skills
If you know your way around a knife, your prep is going to go a lot faster. Start by making sure you’re holding the knife correctly. Your pinky, ring and middle fingers should curve around the handle while pinching the base of the blade between your thumb and index finger. This will feel awkward at first but you’ll get used to it and it offers much more control.
With your other hand form a bit of a claw. Your fingers should be tucked under and your knuckles protruding. This will protect your fingers while you chop and your knuckles against the blade will offer some stability. Then chop using a rocking motion rather than straight up and down. With some practice, you’ll be chopping like a whiz in no time.
If fruit and veggie prep really is the bane of your existence, you can consider purchased some pre-washed and prepped produce. You can buy salad greens pre-washed, chopped cauliflower and broccoli florets and some veggies even come grated, riced or spiralized. You’ll pay a little more for the convenience, but it may make your cooking experience less painful. Frozen vegetables also come pre-cut, so that’s another option.
You can save some time on your prep work by using some time-saving tools. If you have a food processor, you can slice or grate large volumes in a flash. Or use the S blade in the food processor or the pulse setting on your blender for a quick chop.
If the idea of cleaning those tools after seems like too much of a pain, try some smaller tools. A hand chopper or a mandolin can make quick work of your chopping needs.
I Always Screw It Up
If your hatred for cooking has to do with your skill (or lack thereof) in the kitchen, here are some tips to help you out.
Choose Easy Recipes
If you aren’t a confident cook, don’t choose a complicated recipe with tons of steps. Be true to your skill level and aim for recipes that seem simple and manageable for you. Attempting a complex recipe is only going to lead to frustration if it’s too far outside of your comfort zone.
Read It Through
When cooking from a recipe, take a few minutes to read the entire thing so you know what you’re in for. Read it as many times as you need to in order to wrap your head around the task at hand and feel more confident as you begin to cook.
Gather It Up
Once you’ve read through the recipe, go around your kitchen and gather up all the ingredients and tools you’ll need. This way, you can ensure you have everything you need. Nobody likes having to take a mid-cook trip to the store for a missing ingredient. It will also keep you from running around your kitchen in a tizzy, making the cooking experience a much calmer one.
Mise En Place
You may have heard this term before in regards to cooking. If you haven’t, it’s a French term that means ‘everything in its place.’ The idea here is to take a few moments to measure out and prepare all the ingredients you will need. This way, once you start cooking you can simply add items when they are needed instead of rushing to chop something that needed to be in your pan 3 minutes ago. This allows you to keep your focus on the pan which will help ensure you don’t burn the meal.
Ask for Help
If you really struggle in the kitchen, recruit some help. Two sets of hands are better than one. You’ll be able to get some needed support and the cooking will be done in half the time.
I Don’t Have Time
If your strained relationship with the kitchen is due to a lack of time, here are some tips to help.
This may not help you cook faster, but it will allow for some hands-off cooking. You can prep your ingredients, toss them in the slow cooker before work and come home to a home-cooked meal. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Another hand-off tool is an electric pressure cooker or an instant pot. This works similar to the crock pot except the cooking time is accelerated. The newer pressure cookers allow for many settings too. The instant pot allows you to sauté, steam, and more. You can even use it as a slow cooker. Gotta love a tool that replaces a bunch of different gadgets.
One Pot Meals
If time is tight, one-pot meals are going to be your new best friend. Not only will they make cooking a breeze, but you’ll save on clean up as well. Spend some time on Pinterest or your favourite recipe site to track down some one-pot meals that sound appealing to you. Be sure to keep a copy of your favourites so you can refer back to it when time is tight.
One time-saving trick I love is to double (or even triple) recipes. This will allow for leftovers that you can either eat the next day, take to work for lunch or freeze as an emergency meal for a busy day down the road. It’s so simple and will allow you to cook less often. A big win if you don’t like to cook.
Keep It Simple
If you’re already feeling like you don’t have time to cook, this isn’t the best time to tackle an elaborate meal. On busy days keep your meals simple. Save the complicated and time-consuming meals for the weekend or another time when you aren’t feeling as stressed or overwhelmed. When you do make that elaborate meal, be sure to double it so you get twice the enjoyment out of it. 😉
Choose one or two days a week to batch your cooking for the week. Take a few hours and cook a few dishes or meal components that you can put together into a number of different meals. This may sound like torture if you don’t like to cook, but it means easy heat-and-serve meals for the rest of the week. If you want more info on how to start batch cooking check out the related post and free workbook below.
The Bottom Line
While cooking may not be your favourite task, it really is a necessary skill because the healthiest meals are the ones you make at home. Restaurant food is not made with your health in mind. Instead, save the take out for special occasions and use these tips to make your kitchen a place you want to visit more often.
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