Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a talented chef, most of us can agree that home cooked meals are better for you.
Even if you go to a top restaurant or heat up a totally organic prepared meal, it’s just not the same as chopping your own onions, or adding your own salt. And no matter how high quality the meals are, if you aren’t making it yourself you simply don’t know what’s really going into it. Furthermore, losing that connection with the preparation of your food is sad in itself since making food is one of those time-honored traditions that has been handed down over generations.
Whether you lack the know-how, time, or even the desire to cook at home, here are three ways that will help you make freshly prepared, healthy food a regular part of your life.
Tip #1: Keep the pantry stocked.
Fortunately, we live in a world where you can get fresh papayas in the middle of November in Wisconsin and Chilean Sea Bass (hilariously “rebranded” from it’s original name of the Patagonian Tooth Fish) in France that tastes like it was caught minutes before service.
We have this amazing amount of access to all sorts of food but unfortunately this contributes to a general feeling of overwhelm most people are already experiencing from everything else going on in their lives. Shopping for groceries has become an uncommon skill—like changing your own oil.
Most people just kind of go through the motions and end up forgetting something they needed or simply grabbing the most expensive item because of assumed quality. Others end up being very shortsighted and simply buy all the items they need for dinner and nothing more.
Thankfully there is a service from Amazon that will keep your home stocked with all of the standard items you like to eat—so you can focus on the fun part, actually cooking dinner.
Amazon Subscribe & Save lets you “subscribe” to most of the non-perishable items that Amazon has in stock. Most people know and love this service for keeping their toilet paper stocked and their laundry detergent topped off, but did you know that you can use it for tons of common food items as well?
Imagine getting boxes of pasta and sauce, bags of rice, and sacks of beans, even items like coconut oil and baking flour. You get an immediate discount of up to 15% and you can cancel at anytime. This way, even if you don’t have time to shop for fresh ingredients, you should always have what you need to at least make a decent, basic meal. At the very least, rice and beans is a staple, cheap meal that takes minutes to prepare and you’re guaranteed to have a steady supply.
Tip #2: Dedicate a Sunday for “Batching.”
One of the simplest and best recommendations I can give you for cooking at home is to batch prepare your meals, which basically means preparing several meals at one time. Rather than getting home each night and stressing about what to make for the evening, spend a couple of hours on a Sunday, put on some music, drink a few glasses of wine, and allow yourself to really enjoy the process of cooking. Then portion out whatever you make into containers that you either keep in the fridge or freeze for later in the week.
If you want to add some variety create a base like a chili and then add something different to it each day like a side of steamed vegetables or guacamole and chips. A good slow cooker will make this about as easy as it gets since you can simply throw all of the ingredients in and then walk away for the whole day, returning at night to a finished, delicious recipe, ready to be divided up.
Tip #3: Prepared Ingredients
If you don’t want to shop in advance, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, there is a still a great option left for you: services that supply prepared ingredients. There are a number of companies out there like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Plated, and many others that will delivery a box with all of the fresh ingredients you need, pre measured and divided, for you to create a healthy, delicious meal in 30 minutes or less.
The amazing thing about these services is the quality of the ingredients and the value you get.
Blue Apron in New York City will often get their meats from top quality purveyors like Pat LaFrieda and yet the price point is about $9 per person per meal. Every set of ingredients comes with a colorful recipe card that you can use again in the future, but all you need to have in your home is olive oil, salt, and pepper, they literally provide everything else from the 6-ounce piece of steak to the 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. You get to experience the joy of cooking without having to deal with any of the other elements.
Of course if you do find after trying this stuff out that you really like making your own food, then you can start to lose yourself in a site like Foodgawker, which is basically Pinterest for food porn. It allows you to visually search for recipes from thousands of personal blogs around the world. One of their most “gawked” recipes of all time, a hot spinach and artichoke dip, will really help fuel your desire to cook at home.
You simply will never be able to get enough of the stuff if you don’t.
Have any tips of your own? Share yours in the comments.