So you really (really really) want to cook. You’ve tried all the cooking hacks on the internet, yet nothing seems to stick? Here are my 10 steps to creating a simple cooking habit that will change your life… and tips on making it work for you. After all, we are individuals so there needs to be room for your personality, even when you’re trying to change a habit.
Yep, you’re busy.
Yep, so many things.
All the things in fact.
Better things to do.
Too many things to do then take the time to take care of yourself.
Does this sound familiar?
You’re in the full blown recipe rut of what to have for dinner. It all seems to hard, until you get to that too late point in the evening and think ‘I really should have just done X’.
It’s that so foggy in the moment, I have no idea what to cook but as soon as it’s a little too late your mind opens up you see all the possibilities of what dinner could have been.
This is the perfect sign that you are choosing to avoid the task.
I want you to know you’re not alone in your potential distaste for cooking. When something feels like a chore, it can make it so hard to unravel it and make it fun.
I also want you to know there are many busy people who make a simple cooking habit work for them.
Fun is on the cards, here’s how I made my cooking a habit that I love.
I buy ingredients I am excited to cook with
A list of things I love – crispy chicken skin, basil pesto, sheep feta, crunchy toasted nuts, brown basmati rice, avocado, corn, popcorn, mangoes. I could go on here, I do in Get Your Sh*t Together. The ingredients you choose to bring into your home need to excite you.
It’s like buying a dress that kind of looks good, but the sleeves are too tight – you kid yourself that it’ll be OK and you’ll make it work (it’s on sale) but are you ever going to wear it?
Ditch the total cooking overhaul
When our lives and calendars are full and we don’t have the bandwidth to make another decision after 3pm in the day. How on Earth is a full blown meal prep overhaul going to assist this? In most cases biting of more than you can chew in the prep department leads to:
wasted time and
Small steps are where it’s at. Start by find a recipe you’re excited to make, using the ingredients that you love and just make one thing.
Make it and love it up.
Be so excited to make the thing, that you won’t even pick up your phone to scroll while that pot of water is boiling.
Get to know your flavour
Flavour is the most commonly missed element of making a meal. We get so focussed on following the recipe. Thrown off course when the recipe suggests to use chicken thighs and we have wings.
Blood pressure rising that we don’t have enough dried herbs.
We make the recipe, wiping the sweat away from our brow as we serve the meal…. and it hasn’t even been taste tested.
Learning to taste your food, as you go and thinking about what it needs is absolute presence in the kitchen. It forces you into the room and awakens YOUR senses. You’re immediately out of ‘the recipe’, which is just someone’s interpretation – it is not the only way.
My tip: most meals can be fixed with a lug of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper and some dried herbs.
Get over the fact that your meals aren’t ‘fancy’
If it tastes good and ticks all your boxes, what’s wrong with that?
If it lands on the plate in a pile of mush – but you’re gulping it down without a breath as it’s a flavour hit, what is wrong with that?
Just so you know, everyone else thinks YOUR meals are fancier than theirs. They also think you’re a better dancer too.
I’m a badass in the kitchen and I can’t stuff it up
Donde esta la CONFIDENCE?
How you do one thing is how you do everything.
I know this for sure – when you doom the recipe before you’ve even begun – you have no hope of making a good meal or having any fun.
According to bunch of Sciencey people and the law of physics – what you focus on grows.
Think you’re a terrible cook? Guess what you’ll find if you keep thinking that. Signs that you are a terrible cook.
While there may be a huge gap between where you are right now and where you dream of being, until you actively practice what you know, you’ll never know what you don’t know.
Turning your thoughts into positive ones is going to get you very far in the kitchen.
Find the time and stick to it
Repeat after me: There is always something I can make with the time I have. It may or may not be a gourmet masterpiece but it’s still a meal option.
No-one likes a flake. The person who reschedules the catch ups all the time or forgets to show up.
Your kitchen is annoyed at you doing this and deep down, I know it’s a frustrating thing to say you’re going to do something and not follow through on the commitment to yourself.
Find the time.
Life’s so #busy.
Can you start by noticing all the times you’re home and what you’re doing with your time?
Can you start by not filling your calendar to the absolute brim on the weekends?
Can you start by scheduling an hour in your calendar for a Saturday or Sunday morning and just making something.
If you’re a parent, can the other parent take the kids out while you get some stuff done?
Don’t shy away from this practice because it seems like a lot of work. When your headspace is scattered with a million things to do. Anything extra will feel like the weight of a million bags of potatoes. It doesn’t need to be, yet it fades by starting.
Cooking can be relaxing.
Cooking can be a creative outlet.
Cooking can be a way to show love to your family/friends/roomies.
Cooking is the way to put the best food into your body so you have the energy to keep up with your busy life.
Figure out what YOU want to eat
Are you trying to be healthier? Paleo? Vegan? GF? Can’t eat onion? It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s making you happy. Knowing what you want from your meals makes it easier.
Here are my guidelines, I want:
To cook as many meals in the week as I can.
I want a huge portion of veg with every meal.
I want to eat the rainbow.
I want my meals to make me feel good, so I can go and do the work I want to do in the world.
I will eat (almost) anything, including a bowl of nacho’s, if it’s what my body wants at the time. If it falls into the category of ‘soul food’ maybe not as healthy but soothes me on some level, I’m down with that.
IF it makes me feel yuck after or I notice a drop in energy, I take note for next time. It may just be that I add more leafy greens.
That’s it, I know what I want and I keep asking the question “is this what I want?”, multiple times per day.
Ignore the people telling you otherwise
Have you ever started doing something, let’s say Dry July. You decided to tell a few people and you find they’re anything but supportive of your bold move. They’re almost egging you on to drink, offering to buy you drinks and attempting to trip you up? They’re not jerks. This is a standard human response to living outside the box. Doing different things to the cultural norm is triggering as all hell to some people. It says more about them than about you. Take it as information that this group of people isn’t ready to change and that’s fine but it’s not a reflection on your abilities or a barometer that your choices are off kilter.
Get your lover/family/roomies on board… and if they’re not, don’t let it stop you
This is equal parts getting the house involved and daring to march to the beat of your own drum, whether they like it or not.
When Pierre cooks, I sit up on the bench and talk to him while he cooks.
When I cook and I know it’s something that’s a stretch or a bit experimental, I add an element I know he’ll love. Usually it’s within the category of Dude Food – bacon or meat, haloumi, some type of bread or flatbreads. I balance what I want with what I know will be the least resistance.
Decide what the choice to cook or not to cook means
Be intentional. This is your life after all. Who is in control of it?
Your health, your budget, your home life, your future – here are some things to think about:
According to the EPA’s 2019 report, one in five shopping bags end up in the bin = $3,800 worth of groceries per household each year. What could you do with $3,800?
The average takeaway bill on UberEats is $37.50, with a yearly average food delivery spend of $1590. Add that to your $3,800 food waste bill = $5,390 per year.
Let’s say you buy food from the supermarket – apples all year round, as well as berries. You notice the price of cauliflower is sometimes $7 a pop. Yet you continue to purchase out of season food, this could be the difference of $20 – $40 per week. Add that to your $5,390 bill so far = $6,430 per year.
$6,430 extra dollars of your wage is potentially wasted each year due to a lack of education and willingness to get in the kitchen and cook with seasonal food. The wage you earn which you say keeps you too busy to cook every night.
Your energy and your mental bandwidth. Thinking, worrying and stressing about cooking – which I see prevalent in my clients before we begin our time together – is draining. It’s exhausting to go through the mental gauntlet of a daunting task day in and day out when you don’t have a full grip on the situation. How much energy is zapped from merely eye rolling daily at the thought of cooking?
Diets aside, the number one way to consume the best food for your body is to cook it yourself.
What about those kiddo’s?
You want them to eat well.
You worry about whether they eat enough of the good stuff.
You are concerned about their distaste for veggies but unsure what to do about it.
It starts with you. Kids don’t learn from being told, they learn from watching and they’re watching you. They’re modelling you and they will copy what you do. Now let’s apply this to your cooking habits, your stress in the kitchen and the way you talk about eating and cooking. They’re absorbing it all.