How To Encourage A Lifelong Love of Cooking: Part 1 of 2
Maybe some of you are reading this title and thinking, "I'm still waiting to develop a love of cooking myself!" And I get it. Not everyone will end up loving to cook, just like not everyone loves to do anything that others see as "housework": organizing, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and so on. In other words, it is often out of necessity rather than pleasure that we perform certain chores required to turn our houses into homes. But crazy enough, some people actually love these "chores"! One of my dearest friends can most times be found doing what she loves - cleaning her home. I swear its true! And those that know me best know that I love to iron! There. I said it. And yes, ironing is still a "thing." At least, I think it is. 😊
Nowadays, TV chefs are available 24/7 to offer advice, recipes, and simple encouragement. We can all name at least one celebrity chef. Food Network stars Guy Fieri and Michael Symon are two of my favorites. I personally love how these two have transitioned somewhat effortlessly to programming from their homes during the pandemic. According to Courtney White, president of Food Network, "[April 2020] was the network's highest-rated in seven years, with increases averaging 20-30% on any given week." (CNN, Food Network nailed the recipe for pandemic programming, Sandra Gonzalez, Wed May 20, 2020) Spending so much time at home has definitely increased the amount of home-cooked meals we prepare.
If we can determine some of the reasons we do not like cooking, maybe we can circumvent the dread and make it a little more special. (Were you waiting for my catchphrase?)
Some reasons we do not like to cook:
It is work instead of fun.
We hate the monotony of all that prep work.
We need new recipe ideas.
We don't have what we need to prepare meals.
And...maybe a little bit of fear.
How can we make cooking more fun?
Change your mindset. Decide that you are going to enjoy it. Easier said than done? Maybe watch a cooking show and try to recreate the recipe at home. Or have a friend/family member cook with you. Anything different that can help break you out of the rut and offer a new perspective.
Prepare. Create weekly meal plans. Get ideas from online, TV cooking shows or cookbooks gathering dust on your bookshelf. Ask family/friends what they would like to have one night.
Clean as you go. To me, this makes all the difference in how I look at cooking. As long as I try to clean up my work area as I go, I enjoy it so much more. The dread associated with the post-cooking cleanup disappears.
Buy an adorable apron! When all else fails, go shopping!
Here are a few options:
How can we deal with the monotony of the prep work?
Put on some of your favorite music. Dance a little! (Just be careful while chopping!)
Keep certain staples, like chopped onions, garlic, mirepoix in your freezer. I can't tell you how many times a bag of frozen chopped onions has saved me while in the middle of cooking dinner!
Buy some fresh items already chopped, diced, etc. and ready to use. Check your produce section for ready-to-use chopped vegetables. Ask the butcher to cut up a whole roasting chicken for you, if you don't see the pieces you need. Ask the fishmonger to remove the skin from the fish or filet a whole fish, if needed for a certain recipe.
Where can we get new recipe ideas?
To get started, try online at FoodNetwork.com, Allrecipes.com, Food.com, Yummly.com, and many more sites. Or on TV at The Food Network, The Cooking Channel, or most talk shows that offer a cooking segment.
Once you are motivated, you will find inspiration in a lot of places you might not expect! I have found inspiration in magazines at my doctor's office, by trying to recreate a delicious meal I had at a favorite restaurant, and by making a recipe from my childhood.
How can we be better prepared to create the meals we want?
Stock your pantry, freezer, and fridge with basic items. Here is a great list of pantry staples for reference.
Make sure you have basic cooking tools in your cabinets. Thank you to EllaJayatHome.com for this infographic:
How can we be more confident, less afraid, to try new things?
Do it with a friend or family member. Even if you are cooking "together" remotely, you might find comfort and a little more fun by doing it with someone.
Cook while watching a video of someone else preparing the recipe you are making. You can find videos of cooks on the channels listed above, as well as by doing a YouTube search.
Confidence comes with repetition. Remember the old saying: "Practice makes perfect!" While we know it might not make you or your results truly perfect, practice and repetition will definitely make you faster, less timid, and more capable. And that goes a long way!
Finally, how can we pass this lifelong love of cooking on to our children?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series "How To Encourage A Lifelong Love for Cooking"
SPECIAL REQUEST: Will you each please send me ONE of your favorite "go-to" easy family recipes that I can include in next week's blog post? If you are open to it, please add your first name and last initial so I can credit you with the recipe. Thank you! firstname.lastname@example.org