Covid-19 has brought many challenges but it has got people back in the kitchen more, which we certainly see as a small silver lining. Will it continue as life goes back to a new normal? We certainly hope so because spending a little more time in the kitchen…
- saves you money! Buying meals is convenient but the reality is that you usually end up spending more. At Foost we certainly enjoy a meal out and sometimes we all want a night off cooking with some take-away or a heat up meal but cooking more does help the hip pocket.
- helps you be healthier. Research shows that people who cook more frequently, have healthier diets and increased food variety.
- puts you in a better mood! Emerging evidence suggests that cooking may increase your mood, self esteem and reduce anxiety.
- can provide connection. Cooking at home is a great way for social interaction with your family (or invite a friend over to cook with you). Cooking with your children can also help tempt and shape young appetities (read our cooking with kids blog here and take a look at our children friendly knives).
So more time in the kitchen is very beneficial and the good new is you don’t have to be a masterchef to reep the benefits!
Here are our top 7 tips to help you cook more (and keep it up)
1. Learn basic skills: start small and easy (and give yourself time)
Making a dish with a few ingredients and simple instructions is the perfect place to start! When you are trying a new recipe or building your cooking confidence, give yourself extra time to cook (don’t worry, you’ll get faster in time).
Try to get a salad, a soup, a pasta and a rice dish under your belt to start with. Maybe make a simple Greek salad or some chicken soup. Try this foil fish, some teryaki beef with rice, easy tuna pasta or a simple texmex salad. Simple baking is great too, try our muesli bars or lemon and blueberry muffins.
Look online for simple recipes, ask friends or try youtube to watch cooking videos. If some are more complex than you might be ready for, just book mark them for later.
Once you get a few simple dishes under your belt, you can start to expand your repetoir. But start small, so you can build some confidence with easier recipes.
2. Don’t be scared to fail: cause failure is actually just learning how to improve
Even the most experienced chef sometimes forgets the eggs in the cake or puts the oven on the wrong setting or accidentally burns the roasting veggies. Remember, we learn far more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. So just keep trying 🙂
And most things are salvageable (or there is always the worms that need feeding). Try adding tomato or sweet chili sauce! Cut the burnt edges off, turn over-cooked bread into bread crumbs or mueli bars that didn’t stick together into granola. As long as it is safe to eat, think can I repurpose this? (and what can I learn from this).
3. Practice, practice, practice
The sayings ‘success doesn’t happen overnight’ and ‘practice makes perfect’ are both very relevant when in the kitchen! Practice is a key trick in building your cooking confidence! Practice similar recipes, practice different recipes…and you will build your confidence. Eventually you will be able to cook some dishes without the recipe. Slowly, slowly you can increase your reperoir but do practice some similar recipes. Your repetior doesn’t have to be large, cook a few different recipes on repeat (only increase it if your palate or your brain gets bored).
Give yourself time to practice and time to improve.
4. This ain’t the masterchef kitchen
If you are cooking for others, they are not the judge, especially if they are small people who are still learning to enjoy a variety of foods. It’s so disheartening after having spent time and effort making a dish for someone to criticise it. At Foost we have a “don’t be rude to food” manta. So have constructive conversations on what might improve the dish for next time, but no rudeness necessary.
5. Tweak your favourite recipes
Once you have your favourite recipes well known start playing around with them a little. Can you change the fruit in some muffins? Change the veggies in the pasta sauce? Tweak a salad dressing a little? Substituting ingredients in recipes is a handy skill to have in your kitchen tool belt, so that when you run out of something, you can still make a dish. Flexibility in cooking is also helpful in wasting less in the kitchen (more on that here). Slowly you will build your confidence with opening up your fridge and pantry and being able to cook with what you have!
6. Try ingredient boxes or ask a friend
Ingredient boxes are a great way to build your kitchen confidence. Whilst they are more expensive than buying the ingredients yourself, they do save some time and stress as the ideas and ingredients are delivered to your door. They provide easy recipes to follow with a wide range of foods. A great way to build some variety and learn some new recipes. We tested some boxes a while ago and here is what we found: meal kits .
If ingredient boxes are not your thing, try asking a friend or family member if they have any recipes to share with you. Or maybe you can go and have a cooking hang out together.
7. Control your digital environment
Isn’t google great! You can type in a fruit or vegegtable or easy dinner recipe and be floaded with ideas. As you cook more, you will be able to start to filter these ideas. Pay attention to the websites whose recipes suit your palate and skill level.
And now to social media. You are in control of your feed. When it comes to cooking and food pages, follow people who inspire you to cook, not ones who make you feel inferior. Follow or unfollow (or mute), you are in control. Create a supportive digital environment, to give you inpiration and confidence.
Cooking starts with following a recipe, but cooking confiedence is much more than that. It’s building your faith in yourself so when you are tired, you can throw together a simple meal. It’s being able to look in the fridge and whip something up. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but cooking more benefits our physical and mental health as well as our hip pocket. Plus you are role modelling to your children.
Everyone can cook! It’s just a matter of practice, patience and confidence. Happy cooking!