The other day, one of my followers asked me if I ever get sick of cooking.
The answer? NOPE! It’s literally my passion!
But, I totally understand that it’s not because it’s my passion that it’s everybody else’s jam! Some people just can’t stand being in the kitchen, others claim they don’t have the time & find it overwhelming and time-consuming, some just LOVE fast food & others want to hop on the home cooking bandwagon & start eating cleaner, but they don’t know where to begin.
All Hail Kelly In The Kitch.
Like anything in life, if home cooking is not something you’re used to, it can be hard to get started & just jump right into it as though you’ve been doing it on the reg! That’s why it’s important that you avoid overwhelming yourself & that you let yourself ease into it & gain some experience before you try to MASTER CHEF, ya feel me?
Today, I want to share with you some of my tips & tricks to get motivated to start home cooking your meals!
Make the time & adopt strategies that will help you do that, such as planning your meals & doing 1 or 2 bigger grocery trips a week!
A lot of the time when I ask people why they don’t cook at home, why they order out or go out to eat so often, the answer is somewhere along the lines of “I don’t have time!”. Fine, that’s what you think. But did you ever really take a second to think about what not having the time means?! You find time for your hair, nails, watching Netflix, going out for drinks, cleaning the house, seeing family, etc. But you can’t find time to cook nutritious, delicious meals for yourself? OF COURSE YOU CAN.
My philosophy about life (no matter how damn busy it is) is that you always have the time so long as you make it! As long as you tell yourself that whatever you claim you don’t have the time for is something you want to prioritize, invest your time in, something you see value & worth in and that you genuinely believe in it & ultimately, that it’s something you want to become part of your life, the possibilities are endless.
I know that a lot of people have demanding jobs, education & families. And it’s really hard to juggle it all. But, there are strategies you can adopt to make thing easier throughout the week, such as: planning your meals.
In doing this, not only does it give you order, give you something to look forward to, make you feel organized but it allows you to do one big grocery trip so that you can have everything you need on hand for your meal! I also think that a big part of what demotivates people to cook at home is that they think that every time they’ll want to make a recipe, they’ll have to run out to the grocery store. And BTW, if you’re from Montreal, it’s winter now & who on earth wants to go out in the freezing cold every night around 4 or 5 PM when it’s really dark out already to pick up ingredients? Didn’t think so.
I’m not saying you need to plan your meals out to a T because you obviously cannot predict how you’ll feel mid-week when you’re planning your meals on Saturday or Sunday. You don’t know how hungry you’ll be or what you might be in the mood for or craving. That’s why it’s a great idea to simply jot down (or plan) something along the lines of this:
- Monday: Fish, veggies & rice
- Tuesday: Veggie burgers, cauliflower rice & veggies
- Wednesday: Healthier shepherd’s pie (with chicken, turkey or beef) & a side of veggies
In doing this, you have a good idea of what you will need to buy at the grocery store, but at least you’re not restricting yourself to one specific & very stringent menu!
Going to the grocery store every day for a recipe is fun. I know. But you end up spending a lot more than you intended to because you end up picking up more items that you intended for (especially if you get to the store HANGRY OR HUNGRY OR BOTH). We do this for tons of different reasons: they look interesting or yummy, it’s something you’ve never seen before, you realize you are running low, there’s a sale etc. Basically, there’s always an excuse!
Also, don’t underestimate how much time grocery shopping can take (depending the time of day you choose to do it), for example, if you go after you finish work, you might find yourself in this situation: there’s traffic, you have to head to the grocery store, but it’s snowing & your family is already waiting for you & getting restless at home. The easy alternative is to get take-out or make a frozen pizza, especially cause you don’t have everything that you need at home. When everything is bought & at home, you don’t really have an excuse, ya feel me? I mean, the groceries are already bought, NOW WE NEED SOME EFFORT BABY!
If you have a busy or demanding job, if you’re in school or you just have a busy life in general, try to learn to see the value in meal prep by doing it just a few times. I promise, you’ll never look back. As you guys know, I meal prep every Saturday & I literally SWEAR BY IT. It has changed my life. To read more about why I swear by meal prep, click here: Kelly In The Kitch’s Guide to Meal Prep a.k.a. Why The Heck I Swear By Meal Prep!
Meal prep can actually start as early as before you leave for work in the morning – If you know you’re planning on making chicken, turkey or fish that’s frozen, make sure you take it out & defrost it. There is no better motivation to cook the meat/fish than knowing you have a fully defrosted packaged sitting int he fridge when you get home!
I won’t lie. Yes, it takes time, effort & commitment on the day that you decide to do it (whatever day suits you!) & involves a lot of dishes & clean-up, but investing that time on that one day is SO WORTH IT in the long run. It ends up saving SO MUCH TIME throughout the week & allows me to invest my time in other things such as: studying for my holistic nutrition course, workouts, blog posts, reading, spending time with family, research, relaxing, self-care, etc.
If you can do whatever you can ahead of time, why wouldn’t you?
Knowing that I have tons of ready-made healthy food in the fridge is also super relieving, gives me something to look forward to, makes me feel a lot more stress-free throughout the week because I don’t find myself constantly worrying about what I’m going to whip up for dinner! I also know that I won’t be tempted to go for take-out, frozen, processed foods because everything is legit ready & waiting for me! You have no idea what a good feeling it is to come home after a long day & know that my dinner will be ready in just minutes!
If you guys read my meal prep post, you’ll see that the things that I suggest you meal prep are dishes that are relatively versatile in the sense that they can go well in a variety of dishes. What I love is that every afternoon/night when I think about what I’m going to have for dinner, I get to get creative with the foods I meal prepped based on my hunger level & what I’m in the mood for. This basically means I never get bored of eating the same thing every night because I just don’t! I have fun with whatever is ready-made in my fridge & I come up with fun new recipes with food that’s already prepped, for example: if I have ground turkey or chicken ready in my fridge, I’ll switch it up between lettuce wraps, salads, Buddha bowls, sandwiches, etc.
P.S. You know you want to read that meal prep post because I suggest TONS of recipes from the blog that will have you salivating, LEGIT.
Nowadays, we are fortunate in terms of resources for cooking inspiration! The platforms & possibilities are endless. Back in the day, it was all about cookbooks. Now, we have Google, e-cookbooks, food blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook etc. I mean, can it be any easier than just typing in what you’re in the mood for, what your dietary restriction is & BAM?! Overtime, you’ll realize that you won’t need the inspiration anymore because it will just come naturally to you! You’ll gain experience & learn to know what you love & have fun with it on your own. Eventually, you’ll start sticking to ingredients you love & you’ll actually be surprised at how experienced you get in the kitch. Putting together a baking recipe will no longer be the biggest challenge in the world!
But in the beginning, especially if you didn’t grow up with cooking, it’s always best to try to find inspiration from other sources. I’m fortunate in that my mom was always the host. Every event was always at our house & because of that, I basically grew up watching my mom host & cook. This definitely helped me develop that passion & love for it because I saw how much love she put into it. It’s safe to say I learned a few tips and tricks from her after sitting & bonding in the kitchen with her nights before big Jewish holidays, birthdays or other events. She was just the most wonderful cook in the world – I still remember coming home to a home-cooked meal everyday after school. Up until she got sick, it was just like that! We were very much a family that sat & ate dinner together every night. Thankfully, I did get a lot of my inspiration from her.
All this to say, if you are lacking inspiration, instead of just saying “EFF IT” & saying you’re going to get take-out, take 30 or 20 minutes a week to bookmark a bunch of recipes that inspire you. When you’re feeling uninspired, at least you’ll have a repertoire to go back to just to get that little spark of motivation to cook. In the same vein, have a few go-to recipes for when you’re feeling uninspired. Make sure these recipes are something that you LOVE, that they’re healthy & that they’re relatively quick, simple & easy to prep! These should be your “defaults” & your alternatives to ordering pizza or making frozen meals.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with fancy recipes that take hours to prepare!
If you’re someone who has a really busy life, a demanding job or tons of studying to do, kids to bathe, prepare lunches for & a hubby/wifey to spend time with, overwhelming yourself with recipes that take 3 hours to prepare, require tons of complicated ingredients & endless amounts of dishes, you will get discouraged. Truth be told, our priorities are not to wash dishes when you’ve got a whole night ahead of you of things to do. What I’m trying to say is EASE INTO IT. Overtime, you’ll realize that you’ll get quicker in the kitchen. Recipes that would’ve taken you one hour to prepare at first will now take 30 minutes.
Like with anything in life, you won’t become experienced overnight. It takes time for you to learn tips & tricks that save you time. Overtime, these are things you will develop, but in the beginning, go for simple recipes that have catch phrases such as: “30 minute or less” or “5 ingredients or less” (BONUS if the recipes don’t require 200 dishes & contain minimal ingredients). Doing this will keep you motivated to keep cooking again & to avoid being tempted to take the easy route.
Cook with someone you love & have fun with it to take you away from the idea that cooking is a mundane task or chore.
Whether it be your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, make cooking an event & a time that you can spend together! A lot of couples say that they don’t have the time to cook because it takes away from time they can spend together. But HOLD UP, what if you turned your cooking into date night & then ate the beautiful meal you cooked TOGETHER?
Don’t have a significant other? No problem! Plan a girls or guys night where the goal is to cook together, enjoy the food & each other’s company! If you’re doing it with friends, the cooking process, dishes & prep goes faster & you hardly see the time go by because you’re enjoying it. This is a good way to ease into it
Personally, I enjoy cooking with my sister because we have a blast together but I also enjoy cooking alone! If you’re just starting out, I won’t lie, like anything in life, it’s definitely hard to get motivated on your own. It’s the same concept as working out with a buddy when you first stat the gym. Put it this way: If you’re lazy to get out of bed but you planned to go to a workout class with your best bud, all you need is a phone call, or two, or three from that person to get you moving & up & ready to go! But if you planned to go alone, FORGET IT! By the same token, if you plan to cook with your friends / significant other, plans are plans! You aren’t breaking them & this means you’re spending the night cooking, eating a healthy meal & spending time with the people you love. What more can you ask for?
Clean as you go!
I legit cannot be in a kitchen that’s messy. This is why in between every recipe or two, I like to wash dishes, clean tables & counters & sweep the floor before moving on to the next one! This helps me not feel overwhelmed at the end of meal prep with millions of dishes to do & a kitch that’s upside down. Cooking in a clean environment makes me feel good & saves me time in the long run because I don’t have an hour of cleaning to do when I’m done!
Eat a late afternoon snack to help curb the “end of day starvation” when you get home from work/school & to avoid scarfing down the fridge & losing motivation to cook because you feel full.
After a long day, a lot of people leave work/school, starving! They sit in traffic for an hour (or more) & don’t keep a snack on hand with them for their drive home. When they get home, they can’t help but munch on a million different snacks & then, by the time the clock hits dinner time, they’re full, not down to make dinner & just demotivated! So, while the original plan & intention would’ve been to get home, chill for a bit & cook a healthy dinner, CHANGE OF PLANS! This may result in you skipping dinner or eating a super late half-a*s dinner because you just weren’t vining the idea of prep at 9PM when you FINALLY get hungry again!
This is why I’m a firm believer in late-day snacking! When I’m home, late-day snacking is easier & I have more options. But, even when I’m on the go, I make a conscious effort to always have mobile, easy & simple snacks on me, such as: bars, fruit, homemade muffins or cookies & generally, kombucha! I like to snack anywhere between 3 & 5PM. This snack holds me off until dinner but doesn’t keep me so full that I’m no longer in the vibe to make dinner. I like to make sure that my snack is filling, satisfying & contains healthy fats, fibre & protein.
You’ll eat healthier, feel better & more energized & feel a sense of control over your life & then, RESULTS!
If you start cooking at home, you’ll be eating healthier. It’s a fact. The best part about doing this is that eventually, you’ll start reaping the benefits & seeing results. Of course, in the beginning, it’s hard to get motivated because the benefits don’t happen right away. But, in a nutshell, home cooking will make you feel better overall, both physically & mentally. You’ll feel in control of your life, you’ll be taking care of yourself & taking matters into your own hands & you’ll feel a lot more energized, all while knowing exactly whats going into your food.
When you order take-out or eat out, these chains are notorious for sodium. The reality is that you don’t necessarily know every single thing that’s going into your food (& you can’t possibly ever really know!). ANOTHER FACT: Salt adds flavour. Restaurants often use salt to preserve food, ensure high turnover & make it taste better, as well as, hydrogenated oils & other unhealthy fats or preservatives. Often times, the result is that you end up eating empty calories & foods that provide you with little to no vitamins or minerals. On the contrary, when you cook at home, you get to cook with the foods you love & more importantly, foods that you know are nutrient-dense & provide you with tons of energy & fuel.
I’m not condoning outings or take-out ENTIRELY, but what I’m trying to say is that it shouldn’t become a habit or your go-to! Cooking at home should be the norm & fast-food, take out & restaurants should be the exception!
IMO, reaping all these health benefits, putting in a bit more effort, commitment, commitment, prep, cleaning, chopping & overall motivation to eat healthier is a fair price to pay if it means you’ll feel better, no? I’ve said it once & I’ll say it again – There is no better investment than your health. Invest in you.
Cooking can actually be very therapeutic!
Cooking after a long day can actually be very therapeutic. Think of it as a time to disconnect from your job, school or daily struggles. Focus on the recipe & just that! Don’t think about all the little nit-picky details that are bothering you or that have been on your mind all day. Get creative & have fun with it!
Making time to cook at home will eventually no longer feel like a task or chore. You’ll learn to love it & it’ll become the norm. And guess what? You’ll appreciate going out & take-out even more sometimes because it’s not something you are doing everyday!