5 Ways To Not Hate Cooking at Home
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For many folks, cooking at home can feel like a chore. If you've ever tried to cut back on takeout, delivery, or restaurants for budget or health reasons, I'm sure there have been times when you're just not in the mood to cook. I know I have this feeling. In 2020 when we were hanging out at home as much as possible, I tried to learn to love cooking or at least hate it less.
Learning how to cook has been fun, and when I'm in a good flow, one of the best things for my budget. Takeout and delivery are significant expenses for me, only made more expensive by living in Brooklyn. For me, mindful food spending is all about meal prepping, shopping, actually COOKING the things purchased, and reserving takeout for dishes I enjoy and don't usually make at home.
Cutting back on takeout will be an even more significant challenge if you hate cooking at home. Here are five tips to help you hate cooking less and start to enjoy it.
1. Learn the basics
We as humans enjoy doing things we think we're good at and avoid what we don't. Cooking is a skill that will improve the more you practice. Watching one of my favorite childhood shows, Worst Chefs in America, you can learn this vital lesson. Learning just a few basics will open the doors for the types of recipes you'll be comfortable trying.
One of the best ways to learn is by doing it and keeping notes of what you learned along the way. Two books taught me almost everything I know about cooking, and there are lots of places to learn online for free! From how to make dishes from start to finish to how to chop an onion, many resources will help you get the basics under your belt. The only way to get better is by practicing, and you'll notice that the more veggies you chop, the quicker and more uniform they come out. It took me like 45 minutes to break down a chicken the first time, and now I can do it much more efficiently.
2. Invest in some tools (within reason)
The point is NOT to spend the money you saved on takeout completely redoing your kitchen and buying every obscure spice called for in a recipe. Once the basics are under your belt, you'll start learning which tools and spices would be valuable investments. My rice cooker, crock pot, and air fryer are all fantastic additions to the kitchen. I cook a lot from the same cookbooks and recipe blogs and have collected most of the spices needed along the way. Now that I've been cooking for some time, my pantry has the most required staples in my recipes.
To get started, you'll need a few basics: A good knife, cutting board, pot, pan, and a way to strain your noodles. This list from Bon Appetit is a great place to get started.
3. Pick up some staple ingredients/spices for the food you plan to cook.
All my favorite cookbooks talk in-depth about the spices the reader will use throughout the book. And the best part about these lists is that it talks about what the spices are, what they do in the dish, and recommended substitutions if you don't have them around. When you first start cooking, you don't need to buy every single spice from every recipe you want to try. Whether you're getting recipes from a cookbook, or one blogger, pick 4 or 5 recipes you want to try, and write down the spices needed. Decide what you want to buy to start, and pick up a few here and there when you're out shopping.
4. Keep the kitchen fun, functional, and CLEAN!
Take some time to look around your kitchen. Is it set up so you can easily see what's already available? Are your tools stored in a way that makes it easy to get set up and clean up? If not, take some time to see how you can improve. Sometimes a little reorganizing can go a long way!
Growing up, my dad always told me an essential part of cooking was cleaning up, which I still struggle with. As I've gotten older, I have come to appreciate the beauty of a clean kitchen. There's nothing worse than when you're getting ready to cook dinner, and there's already a sink full of dishes or the tools you want to use, not clean.
Do as much cleaning as you go, and make keeping an orderly space part of your cooking routine. I frame it as working at a restaurant during a closing shift. You always leave the kitchen entirely fresh for the AM crew, so try doing the same thing for the AM crew in your house... you!
5. Make it a game or fun for you!
Being on a budget and trying to save money could be more inspiring regarding action items. A little reframing can go a long way. Think about using what's already in your kitchen as an episode of Chopped. The app Supercook is a fun way to see all the possibilities with the ingredients you already have. Sometimes I like to see how much getting delivery would cost and then cook something similar at home. I'll deposit that money into savings or make an extra debt payment to see the immediate benefit of my good choices.
What are some ways you keep yourself motivated to cook at home? Let me know in the comments or send an email to email@example.com