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Baby Steps into the Kitchen: 3 Ways to Start Cooking More

This week I have been talking to a lot of clients and potential clients who basically don’t cook. At all. They are eager to work with me because they know that home cooked food will help them with their health and well-being, but that hurdle of getting into the kitchen can be a big one. One thing I hear over and over is that they are turned off from cooking because whenever they do cook it is such a huge production and they just don’t have time for that on a regular basis.

I am sympathetic to this argument because there was a time when I felt the same way. There was a time when I only had a few recipes that I felt confident in making and those recipes were all very labor and time intensive. It felt like a chore and a chore that was only worth taking on if it was a special occasion. At the time I was way too broke to eat out all the time, so instead I ate a lot of sandwiches, a lot of salads, a lot of depressing pasta with jars of sauce. I didn’t enjoy the food and I also didn’t feel very good. I often felt too full, sluggish, and I weighed about 10 pounds more than I do now. By switching to cooking real food for myself I rediscovered my health, my energy, and established a new relationship with my body. It was life changing.

But it didn’t happen overnight. There were baby steps to getting there and that is where my coaching now comes in with people who are facing the same obstacles I used to struggle with. Here are three small but meaningful changes that you can make if you are interested in starting to do more home cooking but aren’t ready to start cooking for yourself every night.

1)   Cook in bulk. When you do take the time to make your mom’s lasagna or chili or whatever that special recipe might be. Ask yourself: could I make a double batch and then freeze some for later? Cooking twice as much doesn’t take much more time and then you can stock your freezer with delicious, healthier pre-portioned meals that you can eat on busier nights.

2)   Start by adding veggies. If you have your go-to easy meals, try adding more vegetables to them. Boxed mac ‘n cheese? How about quickly cooking up some frozen peas or frozen spinach and mixing it in. Jarred pasta sauce? Chop up some fresh bell peppers or steam some broccoli to mix in. Favorite frozen pizza? Throw some bell peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli florets tossed in olive oil on top before you put it in the oven. By adding the veggies you will benefit from the nutritional content, but will also be able to experiment a bit more with the taste and enjoyment that vegetables can bring to a meal.

3)   Try one new, easy meal a week. Pick an ingredient you want to work with, google that ingredient with the phrase “easy recipes” after it and find one that sounds manageable and good, and then try it out! If you do that once a week you will soon find yourself with a whole bunch of easy recipes you can make, and you’ll be strengthening your cooking skills as you go.

These steps are easy enough to take that any one can try them. Really. If you struggle with cooking, which of these do you think you could try? Or is there another trick that has worked for you? If you already cook a lot, what helped you to get into the kitchen?

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