Making Cooking Fun

How do you feel when you’re in the kitchen?

Does it feel like a chance to explore your creativity while simultaneously preparing a nourishing and delicious meal for yourself and your family?

Or does it feel like a chore on the very same list as mopping the floor and cleaning the toilet?

Prior to COVID, nearly 50% of all meals in America were eaten away from home (1) if you can believe it.

And amidst the pandemic, though we as a society were no longer able to dine out (depending on where you reside and relevant local legislation), most were not exactly choosing healthy, homemade options; fast food sales have soared.

For example, Domino’s Pizza, in May, reported a “material increase in U.S. same-store sales,” to the tune of 22 percent from April 20 to May 17. In normal times, a 20-percent plus year-over-year increase would stun the public restaurant sector (2).

So what’s the deal with so many opting out of doing things the good, old-fashioned way of cooking meals at home?

Whatever your reason may be is unimportant; below are my top five tips to make your time in the kitchen fun… so fun, in fact, that you’ll feel as happy as the gal shown above, nearly jumping for joy.  Truly.

  1. Start with the basics.  Become familiar with what actually comprises a meal.   Lots of veggies.  Ample natural fat.  A moderate portion of protein.   Then see what’s available where you live and choose accordingly.  This not only saves on cost due to minimal transport of goods but also serves to ensure what you’re getting is as fresh as can be.
  2. Make a plan.  Once you know what you can easily access, begin piecing them together with an easy to follow template:  a base of veggies on a dinner size plate.  The more variety the better and similarly, the more color the better.    Add ample fat and a palm-sized amount of mindfully sourced protein.  Vary the way you prepare each of the components- sometimes raw, like a salad, sometimes steamed, sautéed, roasted or grilled.  You get the gist.
  3. Put it on the calendar.    It’s not very likely that you’d cancel a work appointment at the last minute, yet often it is the case that the window that was set aside for food prep becomes a catch all used for work overflow.   Don’t do it!   Add a standing appointment with yourself and don’t budge.    Nourishing yourself and your family must be a top priority.
  4. Keep your approach simple and take small steps.    No need to force a complete overhaul in one fell swoop.  Start where you are and make slight changes here and there so it doesn’t feel like an assault to the system, or to the family.  Focus on the positive.   No need to announce to the kids that the household is no longer going to have chips of any kind; instead get exited to share a new veggie recipe everyone will love and can even help to prepare.   Don’t be surprised if at least one family member shows an interest in helping you as well; being able to delegate in the kitchen can be a tremendous help.
  5. Throw in a little learning each week.  Incorporating just one or two new recipes per week will serve to keep your creative juices flowing without creating unnecessary stress of adding in ten new recipes each with a long ingredient and instruction list.   Not only will you learn a new dish or two, you’ll add your library of what new spices, flavors and methods to try with other proteins and veggies next time around.    Here’s a little tip:  give yourself some wiggle room.  When compared to baking, cooking has a lot more room for error.   There are only two irreparable things that may occur:  burning or over salting.  Other than that, just a little creative thinking on the fly can fix just about anything!

Keeping it light and fun is the best way to ensure engagement and sustainability.

Our brains work best on what to do, rather than focusing on what not to do, so why not keep it on the up and up!

You will likely be pleasantly surprised.