Would you like to do more home cooking, but aren’t really sure how to start?
Our brains are hardwired to keep us safe in old routines, even when they’re self-defeating. We’re masters of talking ourselves out of trying something new before we’ve even started.
The good news is, we can overcome our resistance with some simple steps.
So let’s have a look at some tips on building healthy, new cooking habits – and bust the most common excuses for not trying.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy cooking, we still need to eat on a daily basis. The choice then is what and how we’re going to eat.
I reached out to psychologist, author, and psych professor Dr. Durvasula Ramani for some advice in her area of expertise, healthy behavior regulation. And she generously shared these tips for our readers.
1. Start small.
The main resistance arises when we try to do too much all at once. Break the change into smaller steps, and check in with yourself on each step.
For example, don’t try to go from zero home cooked meals to one every night of the week. Set a goal of making one meal per week for a month. Next month, go for two meals per week, and so on. This way you’ll consistently build your confidence, and almost effortlessly create new routines.
2. Use the 5 Ws plan for habit change.
Dr. Ramani suggests asking yourself the following questions:
- Who do you eat your least healthy meals with?
- What are your food triggers?
- When do you eat? Do you have time triggers that set off certain impulses or unhealthy eating patterns, e.g. in the evening, when you sit down to watch TV or read a book?
- Where are your eating challenges the most pronounced?
- Why do you eat the way you do (i.e. what are the emotions or thoughts that set off your patterns)?
Make a list of your responses and address them one by one, every few days. Before you know it, the framework of unhealthy eating habits, like fast food and take out, are exposed, and modifying them becomes easier!
To learn more about Dr. Ramani’s plan, pick up a copy of her book “You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life” available on Amazon,
In a survey done by Impulse Research for Bosch, the following are the top three excuses we tend to use for not cooking at home:
1. I don’t know how to.
Well, maybe you don’t know how to right now, but cooking is a learnable skill!
The ideal for homemade meals is quick, simple, and nutritious – you don’t have to prepare a banquet fit for serving heads of state every night of the week.
Keep it simple. Look for recipes that have simple ingredients, short cooking times, and that don’t require a lot of fancy equipment – one pan meals are a great place to start.
2. I don’t want to clean the mess.
Here’s the deal on cleanup:
If you make one meal a week and double the recipe, you can get two meals from it, with only one cleanup session.
Make enough for a meal of leftovers, or pop a portion in the freezer. That’s two healthy meals prepped without any extra work – and that’s a smart way to leverage your time and effort.
Also, it’s much easier to do your cleanup right after the meal, before you move on to other activities. Change your habit of seeing it as a chore by reviewing all the benefits you’re reaping as you clean.
3. I don’t have the time.
With all the demands on our time, finding an extra few hours for shopping and cooking can seem impossible.
But the truth is, we all have 24 hours in a day. A shortage of time usually isn’t the real problem, it’s what we spend our time on.
Have an honest look at how much time you spend watching TV, on social media, surfing the web, checking email, and other time-frittering activities.
I’m not saying you have to go cold turkey and eliminate these activities altogether – remember, start small. But if you’re selective and trim the time-wasting fat, you should be able to free up a few hours each week for shopping and cooking.
If you need some extra motivation, write out all the reasons why you want to start – to improve your health, lose some weight, save money, improve your self-esteem, be a better role model for your kids… the more the better. And keep copies in plain sight wherever you do most of your time wasting.
There’s no big secret to home cooking.
Start small, keep it simple, ask yourself some empowering questions, and have a look at your excuses.
Make a start and take it one day at a time. The benefits are worth it! Heck, once you get a few scratch-made meals under your belt, you might even begin to enjoy it.
For more tips on how to get your kitchen set up for your new cooking endeavors with the right equipment, check out this post on my top kitchen essentials.
What about you? Do you use any of the excuses above, or have a tip or two to help others? Tell us about your cooking habit struggles and successes in the comments below!
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.