Keep your pantry stocked up
Think how beautifully efficient it would be if you had an entire grocery shop in your basement? This is something we all fantasize about, especially when we start cooking a new recipe, only to find out that we are short on a staple ingredient that just can't be swapped. Well, guess what? Keeping your pantry stocked with basic ingredients is sort of like having your own little grocery shop in your kitchen cabinet.
The key is holding a list of all the ingredients you use the most and making sure to stock up regularly. Once you compose your final list, stick it to the pantry door as a permanent add-on to your weekly grocery list. Using a small magnetic whiteboard could also be useful for that. Here is some inspiration on staple items for your pantry:
5 seasoning blends of your choice.
Garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Canned crushed tomatoes and canned beans.
Nuts and seeds of your choice (sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, cashews, pistachios).
Dried lentils of your choice (chickpeas, quinoa, bulgur, wheat).
Lemons (squeezing them fresh does make a difference).
Change your attitude
Changing your perspective is a helpful coping mechanism for any part of life. It helps us adjust to situations we cannot change. When it comes to cooking, many of us ditch home cooking because of the unnecessary stress we put on ourselves to perfect every meal. Cut yourself some slack! Try to have fun with it instead of striving for perfection and being disappointed and unmotivated when you can't cook a chef's gourmet meal every evening. Food, and everything around it, should be fun. And if you enjoy eating it, you should enjoy making it too!
Ditch the drive-thru for a DIY
Craving some junk food? Totally legitimate. There's something comforting about it, but don't you hate the guilt trip that comes after? Try making your own snacks at home for a healthier and more rewarding experience. Any meal you can buy at a fast-food chain has an equally fast, nourishing, and healthier homemade alternative. You can check out some ideas here, look for some more online, or get started with this classic DIY potato chips recipe. For an extra touch, try seasoning the chips with dried cilantro or opt for at-home sweet potato fries. Here's how to prepare them:
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice sweet potato into thin strips.
- Toss in some cornstarch and olive oil.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy before flipping and baking for another 20 minutes.
Any boring dish can be upgraded
Getting tired of that 10-minutes spaghetti? That's an understandable and solvable issue. Try spiraling your favorite vegetables into veggie-noodles instead! There are many ways to do this. You can purchase a spiralizer as an add-on to your countertop mixer or buy it as an individual tool. There are also manual ones that look like a big sharpener or the classic julienne peelers.
These are tools that cut your vegetables into long or short noodles. And, if you aren't familiar with it already, let me introduce the queen of veggie-noodles - the spaghetti squash! There are so many different ways to cook this vegetable. Its insides are like extra thin noodles that you can just scoop out, and they taste like sweet potatoes.
Treat yourself to some kitchen gadgets
This is a tip that will be helpful for those of you who are excited about new experiences and trying new things. If you like discovering new technologies and playing with gadgets, why not incorporate that fun part of your life into your cooking routine? Treat yourself to a fun new kitchen toy, but make sure that it's a really useful one. This could be something like the spiralizer we mentioned in the last tip or even a uniquely designed timer you'll enjoy looking at when cooking. Head over here for inspiration.
Keep a cooking journal
This is for the slower-paced souls who don't enjoy following trends and using new gadgets. Keep a handwritten notebook in your kitchen and write down every new recipe you like. You can also write down your favorite home-cooked meals, family recipes, or trade recipes with friends. Use the last page for quick and easy recipes you enjoy cooking and eating, and turn to it every time you need inspiration.
Think outside the box
Keeping yourself healthy or trying to lose weight does NOT mean eating boring salads all day! Food should be nourishing for the mind and soul, as well as your body. After a good meal, you should feel satisfied both mentally and physically. Turn any boring salad into a rewarding experience by incorporating some lentils or grains, such as bulgur or quinoa. You can also sprinkle some peeled sunflower seeds and spirulina on a plain veggie salad or swap the pickles for capers.
Shop fresh produce at the farmer's market
Shopping every once in a while at the farmer's market is a great way to discover new vegetables and fruits while supporting local businesses at the same time. It is also a sure way to eat in accordance with the seasons. But the best part is this - when you buy fresh produce instead of frozen, you'll either eat every bit of it or accidentally forget about it and throw it out when it goes bad. We don't want that last thing to happen, do we? This is your sure way to more fresh vegetables and fruits.
Remember your goals
Remember that building healthy habits is a lifelong journey, not a goal with a finish line. Still, if you're a goal-driven person, try writing down why you're trying to cook at home. Is it to be more frugal or healthier? Having more control over your life? Whatever it is, having it as a big headline in your cooking journal will be a physical reminder that will motivate you to build a consistent new cooking habit.
Keep your cookbooks handy
My last advice to you is to dust off those cookbooks and get them off the most unreachable shelf. They are your greatest source of inspiration, as cookbooks are usually very educational. Keep them handy and insert bookmarks in the pages with the recipes you liked and would want to try again in the future.