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Would you like to do more cooking at home, but aren’t really sure how to start?
Maybe you’d like to eat healthier or save some money, but the idea seems a bit intimidating – a pretty natural response to making any changes in behavior.
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!
Here’s the good news: we can overcome our resistance to cooking with three simple steps.
Today we’re going to bust the most common excuses for not trying in the first place, and learn some tips to begin and build upon new meal prep habits.
Start Cooking at Home with These 3 Simple Steps
1. Bust Excuses
To start, we need to bust those excuses we keep repeating to ourselves!
Motivation to start any new and healthy routine can be destroyed immediately when we let our long list of prepared excuses get in the way.
The following are the top three excuses we tend to use for not cooking at home, with useful suggestions to fight against them:
I Don’t Know How
Well, maybe you don’t know how to right now, but cooking is a learned skill that takes time to develop!
You can sign up for classes in your city. And bring an excited friend or an equally hesitant partner with you if you don’t want to go by yourself – you’ll have more fun together than you might expect.
You can also start to get into the habit of watching a recipe tutorial video every other day – in this day and age, there are multiple forms of media you can access to learn various methods and techniques you can apply in your own kitchen.
Better yet, start your home cooking journey by exploring Foodal’s website! We keep everything organized by popular recipe types in our full collection of recipes.
And you can learn all of the prepping, cooking, and baking basics with many of our tutorial articles.
I Don’t Want to Clean the Mess
Here’s the deal on cleaning after preparing a meal:
With the right strategy, you can keep your kitchen cleanup to a minimum.
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 meals prepped without any extra work, a smart way to reduce the mess.
Also, it’s much easier to do your cleanup when you have some passive time available as the food is cooking. Need to wait at least an hour for your moussaka casserole to bake? Perfect! Use that time to clean.
It’s also smart to clean directly after the meal, before you move on to other activities and become distracted and less motivated.
Change your habit of seeing it as a chore by reviewing all the benefits you’re reaping as you clean, including getting in a little exercise!
I Don’t Have the Time
With all the demands on our time, finding a few extra hours for shopping and making a meal can seem impossible.
Have an honest look at how much time you spend watching TV, scrolling through 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 – we all need them, to some degree! But if you’re selective and trim the time-wasting fat, you should be able to free up a few hours each week for grocery shopping and cooking.
If you need some extra motivation, write out all the reasons why you want to start cooking – to improve your health, lose some weight, save money, improve your self-esteem, be a better role model for your kids who might also want to start cooking with you… the more the better.
And keep copies in plain sight wherever you do most of your lounging!
For further advice on managing your time properly, you might find some new strategies in our guide to 30 time-saving kitchen hacks.
2. Analyze Your Eating Habits
Cooking at home doesn’t have to be healthier. But it certainly can be! And it often is by default, when we rely on fresh ingredients and unprocessed foods.
You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life, available on Amazon
To learn more about Dr. Durvasula’s plan, pick up a copy of her book. “You Are Why You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life” is available on Amazon.
Dr. Durvasula suggests asking yourself the following 5 “W” 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, like in the evening when you watch TV or when you are reading?
- Where are your eating challenges the most pronounced?
- Why do you eat the way you do – what are the emotions or thoughts that set off your patterns?
When you are ready to make a healthy change to your eating and meal prep habits, make a list of your responses to these questions. Address them one by one, every few days.
Before you know it, the framework of unhealthy eating habits, like fast food reliance and excessive snacking, are exposed. Modifying them will become easier once you are able to clearly identify them.
3. Start Small
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy being in the kitchen, we still need to eat on a daily basis.
The choice then involves determining what and how we’re going to eat – and it’s best to not become overwhelmed by this basic necessity!
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 made-from-scratch meals to one served 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.
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, and strategize what you’ll make for the picky eaters in your family. Look for recipes that have simple ingredients, short cooking times, and that don’t require a lot of equipment – one-pan meals are a great place to start.
Once you become comfortable with a roster of basic recipes, you can then start to branch out to learn more complicated techniques and tackle more extensive ingredient lists.
Start Cooking Today
There’s no big secret to home cooking, and you can start with just three simple steps:
Have a look at your usual excuses, ask yourself some empowering questions, and keep your recipes simple and practical.
Take it one day at a time, even starting today. The benefits of cooking from scratch are worth it.
And once you get a few favorite homemade meals under your belt, you might even begin to have some fun in the kitchen!
What about you? Do you use any of the excuses above, or have a tip or two to help others? Tell us about your own kitchen struggles and successes in the comments below.
For more tips on how to get yourself and your kitchen set up for new, exciting, and delicious cooking endeavors, you’ll want to save these helpful articles:
- 11 Top Tips for Kitchen Safety
- 21 Common Cooking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
- 13 Tips to Use a Garbage Disposal Right
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Amazon. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock. Originally published on April 23, 2016. Last updated on March 8, 2023. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
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.