If you're a regular to my blog or follow me on social media, you may already know that I'm a foodie. I love food. I love eating it, I love going to restaurants and I love making it.
Ok, we all have kitchen disasters, it doesn't always turn out the way we hoped, but most of us understand that cooking is a fundamental skill.
There are those people who seem to have trouble cooking anything for themselves at all, maybe they've made a couple of bad dishes and given up trying, but it’s not as hard as they might think, and it is fundamental to a fit and healthy lifestyle too. While many of us enjoy dining out and indulging with friends, if this isn’t balanced by a healthy home cooking schedule, we can waste plenty of money, gain weight, and perhaps never feel the joy and achievement of sharing our efforts with family or friends.
You don't need to make everything from scratch and use the longest, most drawn-out methods of cooking to gain the best, healthiest and most balanced diet however. Of course, learning how to make your own pasta or how to correctly cook a steak are all empowering things worth learning. That being said, ensuring your cooking is more convenient for you can help you ensure you keep up a healthy eating schedule, and avoid overspending elsewhere.
With that in mind, here are my top tips
Keep It Simple
Keep your recipes simple. If you’re just starting to learn how to cook, understand what the major food groups are, and try to shop for them equally each time you head to the supermarket. Try to focus on a few good quality ingredients rather than a plethora of them, although of course, your budget will dictate this. Remember that buying shops own brand is not always a terrible choice that means you are awful at determining quality, it can sometimes simply mean getting more bang for your buck. Try experimenting with brands and flavours.
For example, consider making a chili con carne, one of the most famous and celebrated dishes you can cook. Do you need to buy the best kidney beans for the dish? You enjoy this meal perfectly well with the store’s basic own brand version, an ingredient that may be half the price or less while still giving you an imperceptible taste difference? With staple foods such as these, it is often down to the seasoning and execution of the dish rather than the product which makes the difference. The results can be truly surprising.
In fact, Gordon Ramsay, one of the most famous chefs on the planet, is known for keeping things simple. How often have you see him on 'Kitchen Nightmares' go into a restaurant and simplify the menu? That’s his style - light, letting the ingredients speak, and ensuring that each dish is treated with care. While few of us are on his level of culinary expertise, we can share the idea that simple is often better. If you’re regularly carefully cooking each food group and adding simple spices, everything you eat will be tasty. A little steam spiced cabbage on the side of your jacket potato can elevate the dish to something else, is easy to add, and demonstrates that flash is not always better.
Consider Meal Prep Sunday
The folks over at r/MealPrepSunday have the right idea. If you’re extremely busy or occupied during the week, the likelihood is that you’re going to feel tired and sometimes demotivated to spend even half an hour in the kitchen. You might fancy it sometimes, but there’s no shame in wanting convenience if you've been at work all day.
This can often result in using an app such as Uber Eats to order food from the local restaurant, the cost of which can add up if done regularly. Meal prep Sunday is a simple process, the art of cooking a large batch of a certain meal and then freezing it in divided Tupperware for the rest of the week. Five minutes in the microwave or pop it in the oven whilst you take a shower, and you have the beauty and convenience of that meal to enjoy all over again.
This can also work well for direct dietary eating, such as how bodybuilders may need to eat to fulfill certain macros or those who wish to diet having less temptation to over-snack when things have been pre-proportioned. It is measures like this that can lead you to a sensible cooking approach, and help you feel more active about the one day in which you get to practice it fully.
Use Your Ingredients
You can't cook with ingredients you do not have. Meal planning means you will have all the ingredients you need in stock and you will use them, preventing waste in the process. If you have a variety of herbs and spices, plenty of root and leafy vegetables in the fridge, excellent proteins and no unhealthy frozen foods, you have no choice but to cook a healthy meal. If you know that you can easily throw a pizza in the oven and eat the whole thing every other night, simply opt not to have any in your house. This can help you forcibly direct your cooking to a healthier, more convenient cooking standard, to the point where it becomes a new norm. This is an important measure to uphold, because it starts developing you into the home cook you desire to be.
Follow Set Recipes
There’s nothing wrong with following set recipes, no matter what the most patronising of internet forums will tell you. Experiment. Try new cookbooks. Look online, or follow YouTube guides then bulid upon your new found knowledge and skills.
Purchasing a stand for your tablet may be the best kitchen investment you will make, because accessing ideas from thousands of free recipes is something that would have been an astonishing thing to see thirty years ago. When you follow this approach, you can ensure that you can learn the styles of others in order to gain confidence in the kitchen. Before long, you’ll be able to master certain recipes, ingredients and cooking times yourself. After all, cooking is easy to learn and hard to master, and so going down that rabbit hole is always improved with a little more structure.
Set Yourself Up Well
Setting up your kitchen well is the hidden secret to good cooking. Ensure that you have all of the equipment you need. You needn’t worry about anything overly fancy at this point. Ensure that you have the basics such as a good selection of sharp knives, the most important tools in the kitchen. Learn how to core, skin, and cut effectively. Purchase a range of pans with different heights, and a casserole dish for the oven.
If you wish to, you could invest in excellent options such as an air fryer (perhaps the best way to fry steaks without an overabundance of smoke or any other form of overly pollutive cooking), or perhaps even a compressed pressure cooker to make life easier. These items are worth their weight in gold and incredibly cost-effective considering the job they do. When you set yourself up well, not only will being in the kitchen remain an enjoyable experience, but you’ll look forward to making the most of it.
Craft Adaptable Meals
Plan and prepare convenient meals which you can adapt. For example, morning oats can be served with honey, syrup, frozen blueberries, cinnamon, and this is just to name four options in which that meal can be eaten throughout the week, not to mention its excellent nutritional content. When you focus on measures like this, you have the best choices going forward, and they will always be convenient.
With this advice, I hope you can aim to make your cooking more convenient and achieve your culinary goals