From ‘cannot cook’ to ‘love to cook’ in 4 easy steps
By Mike James
Many people love spending time in the kitchen cooking up a feast, but many others don’t have the time nor the inclination to faff around with pots and pans. Is the relationship you have with your kitchen more of an arm’s length affair? Unfortunately, if your passion for cooking doesn’t go further than the freezer and the microwave, you could be missing out big time.
The benefits of proper home cooking are undeniable and you’ve probably heard them lots of times before. Whether your priority is to feed healthy food to your family, make the household budget go further, control the quality of the ingredients or cook for a special diet, knowing how to prepare meals from scratch lies at the heart of it all.
But therein lies the rub. If your heart’s not in it, how can you persuade yourself to spend more time doing what you think is a huge chore? All the rational, sensible reasons in the world won’t mean a bean when you’re drawn towards (sodium, fat and sugar laden) ready meals and takeaways for a quick hunger fix.
So, here’s what you do.
1. Take away the fear and the mystery
If you don’t feel comfortable in the kitchen, perhaps it’s because you actually have no idea what to do or where to even start. Maybe you never had to help in the kitchen as a kid, or you just never made the connection between fuelling your body and preparing a delicious meal. With no kitchen skills to speak of, it is understandable that you would be worried about putting together any sort of meal, and be in awe of those who can.
This attitude is the first thing you need to change. People have been cooking for literally thousands of years; it’s neither rocket science nor brain surgery. Rather, it’s an essential life skill that everyone can learn. If you can overcome your anxieties in the kitchen and are willing to have a go, you’re halfway there.
2. Don’t aim for perfection
And speaking of performance anxieties, it’s worth reminding yourself right at the outset that home cooking is not a competition. You’re not trying to emulate Heston Blumenthal or Jamie Oliver here, and nor are you expected to post pictures of your culinary creations on Instagram (though no-one’s going to stop you if you feel so inclined).
Instead of feeling under pressure to produce visual food perfection, focus on the simple pleasures of preparing a nice meal at home for yourself, your family, your friends. They will definitely appreciate all the effort you’ve put in and shower you with praise for serving up a delicious dish, even if it should look like a dog’s breakfast.
3. Build your confidence
Once you start learning a few basics in the kitchen, you will notice two important things happening to you: your kitchen confidence will soar, and cooking will no longer be a bore! How long it takes to reach this important stage depends on your personal determination and the amount of practice you put in. If you’re struggling for motivation or can’t see much improvement, here are a couple of things you can do speed up the process.
- Treat yourself to a cooking class or workshop
Sometimes, all it takes is some inspiration and a nudge from someone in the know to push you that little bit further. Why not spend an afternoon or a weekend with a professional chef learning the tricks of the trade? Whether you’re trying to skill up to impress at a dinner party, or you’ve always wondered how to make a proper curry, there’s an enormous choice of cooking classes to choose from.
- Take a 30 Day Challenge
The idea behind taking a 30 Day Challenge is that this is the amount of time it takes to break a bad habit, or establish a (good!) new one. From weaning yourself off takeaway pizza to extra practical tips to give your motivation a boost, this is well worth trying. This 30 day plan has weekly videos, a handy Meal Prep Challenge Timeline and lots of simple recipes to follow, while How to Become a Better Cook in 30 Days focuses on handy tips to gradually build up your cooking skills.
4. Get the right kitchen ambience
Now that you’re regularly spending time in your kitchen, it’s important to make the space work for you – both in terms of practicality and style. If you’re able to create a positive atmosphere, this goes a long way towards transforming an unloved functional area into the heart of the home.
Now is also a good time to review your kitchen layout, cabinets and storage. After all, it’s so much easier to prepare a meal when you have a well-organised kitchen, with everything you need at your fingertips. If possible, invest in open shelving to display your growing collection of favourite cookbooks to dip into whenever you like. Finally, don’t forget the iPod speakers so that you can listen to your favourite tunes while cooking dinner!