Simple Ideas for Every Kitchen

As a Chef, I love to cook. It’s a passion for me the reflects my feelings on love, kindness, and creativity. This is not, however, true for everyone. Recently, a client told me that part of the reason she didn’t often cook was that it just wasn’t fun for her, that was instead stressful and time consuming. This is something I have heard many times, and the truth is not everyone will fall in love with cooking. There are, however, things that help make cooking easier, less stressful, and less time consuming. For many people, that turns cooking into a fun experience, and for others it makes cooking at home a worthwhile endeavor even if it’s not their favorite pastime.

Cooking at home can save you money, keep you healthier, and encourage quality time with family and friends. Even for someone like myself that loves cooking, an uncomfortable kitchen can make it daunting for me to cook. Make your kitchen user friendly by putting down padded rubber mats or rugs in places you’re likely to do the most food preparation to cushion your feet, knees, and back. If you have back problems, use a stool to sit at your counter instead of standing. Organize your knives, spatulas, and other cooking gear near food preparation areas. Keep a list in your pantry (or on your shelves) of what herbs and spices you have on hand, and restock when you get low. Do dishes as soon as possible after eating, so your work area is clean for the next meal. A bottle of diluted bleach, appropriately marked for safety, makes cleanups a breeze.

Another common deterrent to cooking is lack of a plan. Most folks fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to dinners, often meaning that they don’t have the ingredients on hand or the time on the clock to make a meal. Take a few moments at the beginning of each week and decide on a dinner for each night you will be eating at home that week. Write the plan down, then use it to prepare a grocery list so you have everything on hand for your tasty meals. These few minutes can save hours of agony trying to figure out “what’s for dinner,” and a lot of money one eating out and convenience foods. When planning the meals, make sure you have a few quick, healthy meals on hand for those nights you’re going to be busy or late getting home. It’s also the perfect time to choose a new and different meal that you haven’t tried before.

New meals keep cooking and eating at home interesting. Many people believe they don’t know how to cook; but, in truth, they’ve got all the tools to do so adequately: literacy, a kitchen, a few measuring cups, and the ingredients (which we took care of in the paragraph above). Invest in some cookbooks, or borrow some from the library. The Internet is full of wonderful recipes from your favorite Chefs, and FoodNetwork.com has a slew of easy-to-prepare, healthy meals. Jot down your recipes for the week on 3×5 cards and put them in an envelope in the kitchen (on the refrigerator is best, but anywhere convenient will do fine). Voila! You’ve got a week of wonderful meals at your fingertips. After you’re done with the cards in the kitchen, you can file these cards in a recipe box for later use.

Not everyone will love to cook, but almost everyone can make it easier and more fun with these few simple steps for stress-free cooking.

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