Cooking At Home More Often: Tips For Getting Started

The single best way to avoid the excess calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars that contribute to pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes, is eating more home-cooked food.

Yet, busy lifestyles, and a common belief that cooking from scratch requires hours of time has led many households to rely on convenience foods—and left many of us with little, or no meal preparation experience.

It’s really not difficult though, to start cooking more often at home. By adopting a strategy of small steps anyone can learn their way around a kitchen, and easy to make recipes are abundant.

Cooking From Scratch Tips

Here are a few small steps that might encourage inexperienced cooks to start preparing more food the way our grandmothers, or great grandmothers did:

  • Learn the Lingo. Following a recipe is easy when you know cooking terminology and techniques. So, the first order of business for kitchen novices might be understanding basic cooking processes and skills: steaming, roasting, sauteing, grilling, blending, and whisking, etc.
  • A good way to become acquainted with a new subject, including cooking, is to read books, and websites for children or teens—or watch videos created for young audiences. There are usually plenty of illustrations, and the text is typically simple, clear, and direct. These resources can also provide a list of basic kitchen tools that every cook needs.
  • Small Goals. Instead of preparing entire meals, start by making part of a meal, such as the protein or veggie portion. Focus, for instance, on learning to cook meat, or even one type of meat such as chicken breasts. Choose to become proficient at making baked vegetable dishes (e.g., green bean casserole, glazed carrots); or, work on creating fresh salads, vegetable soup, or pasta sauce.
  • The home-cooked portion of the meal can be rounded out with frozen or canned goods, plus the family’s usual ready-to-eat foods, or takeout items.
  • Time Savers. Time is an issue for many families, but there are kitchen tools available that simplify preparation. For example, purchasing a good vegetable “chopper” eliminates considerable slicing, dicing, and mincing time.
  • Go Slow. Slow cookers can become a reluctant chef’s best friend. There are countless tasty slow cooker recipes that require just 10 to 30 minutes of prep time, and many of these are one-pot meals—just add a side salad and dinner is done.
  • One At A Time. When confident enough to put an entire meal together, it’s still a good idea to start small by preparing one full meal per week. Then, as self-assurance builds, add a second weekly meal, and so on.
  • Plan each meal ahead so there is time to shop for necessary ingredients, or to make advance preparations (e.g., chopping the veggies, measuring out the dry ingredients). After preparing a meal that the family enjoys, keep the recipes used together so the meal can easily be re-created.
  • Prep Your Space. Beginning cooks can set themselves up for success by clearing the clutter from food preparation surfaces, and keeping basic kitchen tools easily accessible.
  • Collective Courage. Those who are under-motivated or lack cooking confidence might try recruiting another family member as a learning partner, or ask a friend who enjoys cooking for some tips, or an afternoon of help.

Some individuals who start cooking find they love it, but even those who don’t typically feel good about preparing and eating more wholesome foods. Fortunately, whether people grow into amateur chefs, or stick with easy to prepare fare, the health benefits from their cooking efforts are equally amazing.

Source: Mayo Clinic

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