Well now look at you, hot pants! 2012 has been treating you just nicely. It must be all those vitamins you’re taking.
Besides the usual New Year banter, this was the first year I saw a lot of ‘I want to cook more’ or ‘I want to make better meals for my family’ type resolutions floating around my social media.
Like any resolution, after a few weeks it can seem really daunting to keep up a new lifestyle or part of your day. Since I have the strong belief that anyone can cook, I thought I’d throw out a few tips and pointers to make meals a little less scary after the shiny new paint of it all has worn off.
Start Simple and with the Basics
I always say that once you know a handful of techniques, you can cook pretty much anything. If you can make one soup, you can make any soup, barring a few complicated ones.
Learn a good dough recipe for pizzas, master a pasta sauce, or make a pot of your own chicken stock and see what happens from there!
Befriend a Slow Cooker
I love cooking when I’m home. It is relaxing for me after a long day at work. Food and cooking is how I think; it’s a part of my heart and obviously my skin. However, there is something really satisfying every once in awhile to come home to a crock pot full of something delicious. You walk in the door to a house full of the most intoxicating food-smells and all is right in the universe.
Next time you’re in a rut, crock pot.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind – So Keep it In Sight
A great way to have more vegetables and fruits involved in meals (and snack time) is to keep them visible. I keep vegetables in pretty bowls on my kitchen counter. In the fridge, things like carrots and celery are visible rather than buried deep in drawers. If it’s in your face it will be much more difficult to ignore.
We’ve been doing meal plans for a long time now – and even as the time has gone by, we’ve been able to stream line the process it even further. I’m not at the level of color-coding the shopping list by department but we have a system that works pretty well for us. We don’t assign a meal for a specific day – but maybe that would work for your family – we’re just too picky and commitment phobic when it comes to food.
Our newest addition to meal planning is to double check what dry goods we have in the cabinets and base as many meals as possible around them. I’m the Queen of buying dry beans out of habit and coming home to realize we already have 6 other bags waiting for me in the pantry.
Make Your Kitchen Fun
The best meals I’ve ever made have happened to music. I believe in the concept of food being made with joy and love – and what inspires emotions more than music? Keep a radio or a dock for your dearest digital tune player in the kitchen and you’d be surprised how those swinging hips or karaoke session can turn into the most amazing food.
Mundane becomes fundane…nevermind, that didn’t work…but the process will be more enjoyable.
Cook While You Couch Potato
One of our favorite meals is steamed or baked pork dumplings, which the prep work for can be a little tedious, especially when you’re going at it alone. Once in a while though, all three of us set up a table in the living room, put on some Netflix and suddenly all the wrappers are stuffed and ready to cook in no time.
A lot of prep work for tonight or tomorrow’s dinner can be done just vegging out watching that documentary you’ve been meaning to finish. When it comes to make that next meal, think of all the time you’ve shaved off all that dicing and slicing.
Whatever keeps you cooking!