Cooking at home is a great way to save money and eat healthier. You can make better choices about the ingredients you use, cook more nutrient-rich meals, and avoid unhealthy restaurant foods. But cooking can be time-consuming, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating out or ordering in.
It can be hard to get started, especially if you don’t have much experience in the kitchen. So if you’re looking to break out of that cycle, here are some tips to encourage yourself to cook more often:
1. Find quick and easy recipes.
The internet is full of recipes for simple, healthy meals that you can make in a short amount of time. And there are plenty of cookbooks designed for busy people. Take some time to look for recipes that fit your needs and list the ingredients you’ll need.
When looking for recipes online, try to find ones that have been reviewed or come from trusted sources. This will help you avoid wasting time on recipes that don’t work or are too complicated. You can also ask friends or family for recommendations.
Some people find it helpful to meal plan for the week. This can take some guesswork out of what to cook and help you save money by avoiding last-minute trips to the grocery store. So look for recipes that you can make in advance or meals with leftovers that you can eat for another time.
2. Stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients.
If you have healthy ingredients on hand, you’ll be more likely to cook with them. So make sure your pantry is stocked with whole grains, beans, and nuts. And fill your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.
You might also want to keep some healthy convenience foods on hand, such as pre-cut vegetables, frozen fruits and vegetables, and precooked chicken for those days when you don’t have time to cook from scratch. But be sure to read the labels carefully to know what you’re getting.
You can also plan by prepping ingredients for recipes. For example, if you’re making a stir-fry, chop the vegetables in advance. Or, if you’re making a soup, cook the vegetables and meats ahead of time, so they’re ready to go when you need them.
3. Make cooking fun.
One way to encourage yourself to cook more often is to make it a fun activity. If you’re not used to cooking, it can be helpful to find a friend or family member who enjoys it and ask them to teach you. You can also make cooking more fun by listening to music or watching a favorite show while you cook.
Other people invest in mobile cooking stations to prepare meals anywhere, including in the park or on the beach. And some people find cooking therapeutic and use it as a way to relax and de-stress.
Putting some fun into cooking can help you see it as a hobby instead of a chore. And the more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to stick with it.
4. Set aside time for cooking.
One of the biggest obstacles to cooking at home is finding the time to do it. If you’re working full-time or have a busy home life, finding an hour or more to spend in the kitchen can be hard. So it’s essential to set aside time for cooking, even if it’s just a few nights a week.
One way to do this is to batch cook meals on the weekends to have food for the week ahead. This can be a great time-saver during busy weeks. You can also try cooking simple meals that don’t take a lot of time, such as eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches. You might also want to invest in time-saving kitchen gadgets, such as a slow cooker or an Instant Pot.
5. Set realistic goals.
If you’re not used to cooking, it can be unrealistic to expect yourself to cook three meals a day, seven days a week. So start small and set realistic goals that you can realistically achieve. For example, you might commit to cooking one meal a day or two meals a week.
And don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a bad day or don’t feel like cooking. You may feel like eating convenient, unhealthy foods is more accessible, but it’s essential to be patient and keep your long-term goals in mind. Just get back on track the next day or the following week. The important thing is to keep moving forward and not give up.
If you want to encourage yourself to cook more healthy meals at home, you can do a few things. The mentioned steps above are five of the most effective ways to get yourself to cook more nutritious meals more often. Remember to be patient, take things slowly, and have fun in the kitchen. And most importantly, don’t give up!