So you say you’re going to cook more at home. You’re in the right place. Here are seven easy tips to make that happen.
Click out of that food delivery app and put that lackluster can of soup back in the cupboard. If you’re like most of the population, you resolved at the beginning of the year to cook more at home.
And for good reason.
Cooking at home instead of eating out saves money, is healthier when you control portion sizes and ingredients, and fosters better relationships with your family and friends when you visit and share a meal face to face instead of zombie like in front of the television.
But with life’s interruptions, these best intentions aren’t always feasible. However, with a little planning on your part, you can definitely improve on your success of cooking at home. Follow these 7 tips and soon you’ll be saying, “It’s Wednesday! We’d love to have you over for dinner.”
1. Start with favorite recipes and organize your list.
Cooking at home starts at the grocery store, but aimlessly wandering the aisles looking for inspiration will likely result in a kitchen-full of foods that don’t go together, and possibly a bag of cookies you inadvertently rip into on the drive home.
First, dust off your cookbooks and scroll through your favorite food blogs to plot out a week’s worth of meals, so you’re buying exactly what you need and exactly how much you need, avoiding wasted food and money. While variety is the spice of everything, choose recipes that are simple in execution (save the multi-step wonders for the weekend) and include overlapping ingredients, so you’re not stuck with rotting fennel because you couldn’t use it fast enough.
Then organize your grocery list by food category, so you can zip in and out of the grocery store without having to zigzag from the produce section to the frozen aisle to the canned goods and back to the produce section to complete your list.
Organizing your list is a grocery store savior. Do it on your phone, or download my printable grocery store list below.
2. Prep ahead of time.
Think of your kitchen as a restaurant, with much of your meals prepped ahead of time to get dinner on the table faster because you already have one foot in the game.
Picture it: you finally get home on a Thursday night after a meeting ran late and traffic was a nightmare and when did your boss say that presentation is due? Are you more inclined to whip up a roasted chicken or heat the oven to 425 degrees and pop in a frozen pizza? If your vegetables are cleaned and cut, meat thawed and ingredients as prepped as possible, that roast chicken isn’t sounding nearly so daunting after all.
Dedicate 30 minutes on the weekend or when the baby is napping or whenever you can find a sliver of time, and become your own sous chef. Don’t feel like you have to prepare an entire week’s worth of meals to make meal prep a success. Start with simple basics you can dress up and toss in like a batch of the best baked chicken breasts or roasted vegetables, or whip up a pot of hearty soup to reheat and eat when the calling rises.
3. Keep staples stocked.
Raise your hand if you’ve gotten five steps into a recipe before realizing, whoops, you’re missing a main ingredient that you swore was in your pantry. We’ve all done it.
As you run low on staples – oils, tomato sauce, beans, grains, pasta, vinegars and garlic, just for starters – immediately add them to your grocery list to rebuy so you’re not stuck doing without and risking a weird/blah/incomplete dinner. (Since it seems nobody asks their neighbor for a cup of sugar anymore.)
4. Whip up one-sheet or one-pot meals.
Pro tip: bookmark these 20 one-pot wonder meals to revisit time and time again you want a low maintenance dinner that’s not low on flavor. This One-Pan Chicken With Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce is a favorite, as is this One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice. Simply add a salad and voila! Dinner in a snap. The best part? You’ll have nearly no dishes to clean up afterwards.
5. Host more dinner parties.
No need for candles and multiple courses. Here’s betting any given Wednesday your college-age niece would be grateful for a warm meal or your neighbors would enjoy a proper catch up. Instead of going out to a restaurant, invite your friends and family over to your house for a casual gathering at the dinner table, which will encourage you to hunker down in the kitchen, mostly pressure-free.
I love how this home cook dedicated one night a month for a year to host dinner parties, and documented it all. See! Anybody can do it.
6. Invest in equipment you’ll love and use.
If you’re constantly groaning, “I hate these knives” every time you’re chopping onions, chances are you’re not going to be jazzed about making a pot of chili after a long day of work. Invest in kitchen tools you’ll use and love to make cooking at home more enjoyable, less groany. From saucepans to mixers to a simple can opener, owning products that are easy to use and clean make cooking at home that much more appealing.
Check out my list of must-have kitchen items.
7. Make now, freeze for later.
A quick reheat of a home-cooked meal is a saving grace on a busy weeknight, so while you’re making meals, double the batch and freeze half for later. Soups are a given, as are homemade mac and cheese, chicken enchiladas and pot roasts. For more variation, cook your protein ahead of time, then freezing and repurposing it into various dinners throughout the month. For instance, ground beef could be chili one night, tacos another and sloppy joes another.
Tell us your tricks for more eating at home.
We know you have some good ideas up your sleeve. So please share! Tell us what you do to make eating at home easier in the comments below.
More Kitchen Tips to Follow
- 10 Ways To Save More Money At The Grocery Store
- 10 Things to Get Rid Of for an Organized Kitchen
- 10 Ways To Waste Less And Save Money At The Grocery Store
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