We’ve become savvy in the choices we make in restaurants, using restaurant websites to look for nutritional information before we head out to eat. But even those choices are no match for the health benefits of anything you cook at home. Restaurant meals generally use much more salt and fats than you would normally use at home.
Chances are if you’re reading this, it’s because you already realize that you should be cooking more. The question is, how to get started?
Two reasons I hear most often for not cooking: don’t have the time or don’t know-how. But I think the reason is we’re not prepared. We get home, open the fridge, and wonder what to make. We’ve already put in a long day, and the challenge of figuring out what to make with the random things in our fridge seems just too difficult. It’s much easier to pick up the phone and order a pizza or go to the drive-through.
There are steps to cooking that we have to do, just like creating a fitness routine. We don’t wake up and put on workout clothes and then decide what gym we’re going to. We prepare. One thing that will help us cook more is to prepare.
Steps to Prepare
- Create a weekly routine. Pick a day of the week – the same day every week – and plan your meals for the week, just like any other appointment. Decide what days you are going to cook. Pick the recipes. Make your grocery list. Your grocery trip will be shorter because you have your list. When you get home each evening, the plan is already set, so dinner is on the table quicker. Don’t have enough time to cook? Your routine saves time.
- Don’t know what to cook? Find easy 30-minute recipes. Cook them regularly, and soon you’ll be able to do them on auto-pilot. Enjoy a meal at a friend or family members house? Ask for the recipe. Have go-to recipes that you know you like and know you can make.
- Baby steps. It’s important to start with small steps. You don’t go from couch potato to marathon runner in a day. You work your way up. Start with cooking one day a week or one day more a week than you do now. Increase it over time.
- Make once, eat twice.When you start cooking, double up, make enough for leftovers for another night. I’m not into the cooking for the entire week on a Sunday. It’s too much work! But doubling up is doable.
- Don’t cook for one. If you usually are cooking for one, it can be hard to get motivated to cook for only yourself. Share it with others. Invite people over and share your newfound motivation to cook. There’s nothing better than sitting around the table with friends. Or, take a meal to someone that might need a little help getting a meal on the table.
Getting started with anything is never easy. Whether it’s a new exercise habit or cooking more, break it down into baby steps, and I know you can do it. Hey, you’ve read this far! That’s motivation right there. Cooking more is worth it, and once you get going, I bet you’ll even enjoy it.
Lisa Lewis is the author of Healthy Happy Cooking. Her cooking skills have been a part of First Place for Health wellness weeks and other events for many years. She provided recipes for 15 of the First Place for Health Bible studies and is a contributing author in Better Together and Healthy Holiday Living. She partners with community networks, including the Real Food Project, to provide free healthy cooking classes.