I was watching an episode of House Hunters (one of my guilty pleasures) and one of the things on the couples' “must have” list was a modern, gourmet kitchen. But get this - neither one of them cook.
I was that person not too long ago.
Full disclosure: I was a salad making, veggie connoisseur with a bad diet coke habit and a mammoth chocolate addiction.
The purpose of the kitchen was mainly for entertaining. The oven and stovetop never needed to be cleaned because I didn't use them. Wait. I may have used the oven in my first house once (for a party). And, the stovetop had occasional kernels because I do cook some killer popcorn in the whirlypop (with coconut oil, of course).
I would purchase beautiful vintage dishes and platters (for parties) and my chef's knives were in excellent shape - but it was all for show.
My hubs and I always ate together, but we ate separate meals. And, you kind of lose a little of that “connection” when you aren’t engaging over a shared meal.
There was a running joke in my family that I didn’t know my way around the kitchen. And, for the most part, that statement was true. But it wasn’t because I couldn’t cook, it was because I didn’t give cooking a chance.
I was intimidated by it.
Between the Food Network shows and the fancy cookbooks, my perception of “cooking” was that it was a lot of work. A lot. Who wants to fork out all that money for obscure ingredients and spend hours over a hot stove only to come out with a terrible representation of the beautifully photographed meal you had every intention of producing but didn’t?
It was when my oldest was born that I considered the ramifications of my opposition to cooking. And with that, I learned that cooking isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s quite therapeutic.
Now that I’ve conquered my fear of cooking and not only feel comfortable in the kitchen but find great joy in preparing meals for my family, I love helping other moms get to that point.
It is not uncommon for me to work with women who don’t cook. And, these days, technology makes not cooking so enticing. I mean, have you used PostMates or FoodieCall? You can literally order take-out from almost anywhere and have someone bring it to you. It is a mom’s dream. Hell, they even deliver alcohol.
If only that food was made with the best ingredients.
Trust me, I get it. Coming home from work or after a long day with the kiddos, the absolute last thing you want to do is throw yourself into the kitchen and stir up a meal. It’s far more appealing to have it done for you. And delivered.
BUT, the benefits to you and your family are awesome. And I’m not just talking about how much healthier making meals with fresh quality ingredients is - I’m talking about the experience. There’s nothing better than being able to put your love into what you are cooking for your family and then sit down and share it with them. Plus, if you are lucky enough to have your kids want to be involved and help - it’s even better.
If you are like me and feel intimidated or just don't want to put in the time, I urge you to give cooking a chance. I challenge you to take your appliances for a test drive. And, to help you get started I'm giving you a handful of things that helped me make the jump from kitchen klutz to burgeoning chef.
Cooking does NOT need to be complicated. Stick to a handful of ingredients max (2-3) when preparing meals and add in spices and condiments for extra flavor. There are so many spices available that have health benefits and spices are easy to use in cooking.
Make it a priority and it will become a habit. I learned this through my Health Coach training, and like anything else, exercise, learning a new language, working on a relationship - consistency over time leads to habit.
Allow yourself to make mistakes (and laugh when you do). Listen, I’m still making them. Not paying attention to boiling water, burning things, being overzealous with the measuring cup - most of the mistakes are due to just not paying attention. But, when you make them (I say when, because you will) learn from them and move on.
Don’t stress over ingredients. Start with the basics and every so often try something new. You can make tasty meals with olive oil and seasoning - who knew? When you are at the store pick up an unfamiliar vegetable or fruit that you can experiment with every so often. There is so much produce out there beyond the basics that taste good and have great health benefits. Next time you are out shopping, grab that unfamiliar item and give it a whirl. You may hate the taste of it, but at least you tried.
Spend a little time planning the week. This will not only eliminate stress but if you plan well enough you can get multiple meals out of one ingredient. I usually prepare a large pot of brown rice as well as a pot of quinoa that I can use in multiple ways throughout the week. With rice alone I get 3-4 different meals out of that pot - from stir fry’s and buddha bowls to rice pudding and porridge. Saves time & money - and Dylan loves some homemade rice pudding.
When I really thought about it, I had to be honest with myself. While I struggled with connecting to the idea of cooking, what I really wanted was to be able to give my children what I had growing up. I wanted all of us to be able to sit around the table with a home cooked meal and feel love. To connect. I also want my boys to have a positive relationship with food, something that until the last few years I didn’t always have. What better way for that to happen than to get them involved in making meals and learning new foods. My oldest loves to help me make some of our favorites - I just prop him up in his high chair and wheel him around the kitchen so he can see what I’m doing and help put ingredients in bowls, stir, peel, you name it.
Now, go give your kitchen a little test drive by breaking in those appliances and putting a little more love on the table.
And, if you need a little extra help with gaining confidence in the kitchen (from pantry/refrigerator overhaul to shopping for & preparing meals) let me know.