There’s a rumour going around that cooking is a chore. A time sucking, energy sapping, monster of a chore. As someone who takes great pleasure in eating, cooking, thinking and talking about food I have to say I don’t get it. For me cooking is how I nurture myself and those I love. It’s one of my favourite forms of relaxation, a meditation almost. If you’re one of those people who finds your kitchen a place of frustration and duty then I hope my simple tips on how to make cooking fun will help to change your mind. Lets play.
Tip 1. Dont cook in silence
In this day and age, with every size and shape gadget at our disposal there’s no reason we need to cook in a vacuum. I sometimes really enjoy cooking in silence, concentrating on the task at hand, stirring myself into a daydream oblivion. Mostly I use my kitchen prepping, cooking and cleaning time as an extension of my entertainment time. I prop up my Ipad on the counter, plug-in my speakers and get my groove on, or my binge watch on or even my education on depending on how I feel.
Here’s a run down of the different ways to entertain yourself whilst spending time in the kitchen.
- Pop the Ipod on shuffle and shimmy away as you chop.
- Discover new playlists and artists on Spotify.
- Listen to your favourite podcasts. My favourites are Food for Thought and The Lucky Bitch.
- Listen to an audiobook.
- Attempt to learn a new language with the listen and repeat method.
- Link your device up to Sky Go and watch your tv shows.
- Watch inspiring documentaries and my favourite vegans on YouTube.
- Follow along with a new recipe on a cookery blog.
- Watch your Instagram stories feed.
- Make your favourite drink or snack to enjoy whilst pottering around.
Tip 2. Dont cook alone
Whilst this one may not be possible or practical for everyone all the time It can make a huge difference to your attitude towards cooking. Not only does reduce the prep time but it begins the feelings of shared experience and community that continues throughout the meal and beyond.
The main reason most people dislike cooking is down to a sense of obligation or being solely responsible for getting a meal to the table. If you can encourage others to contribute, share the workload and get involved you’re much less likely to feel obliged and put upon.
Trying a new recipe together, letting the kids help wash and chop the veggies, teaching someone how to cook or learning from someone else are all wonderful ways to connect with family and friends at the end of a busy day.
Wherever possible David and I cook together. Sometimes it involves alcohol, always it involves dancing and loud music. It never fails to bring us closer together and gets the conversation flowing. I firmly believe that anything cooked with love tastes better. Try it and let me know if you taste the difference.
Tip 3. Cook once, eat twice
I’m often amused by how many people are shocked at the idea that I don’t cook every day. As much as I enjoy cooking I’m not a total glutton for punishment. Most of our evening meals are delicious and home cooked from scratch, just not every single day.
Most home cooked meals take the same amount of time to cook double portions as they do to cook a single meal. The prep time for larger portions is obviously increased slightly but this is negligible compared with the time you save the following night by not cooking at all.
It seems this idea is very much down to personal preference. Perhaps we’re especially tolerant of eating the same thing two days in a row but if its tasty and convenient then why not. If eating the same meal doesn’t appeal to you then you could freeze the remaining portions for a quick option in the near future. It’s also possible to cook the basis of a double meal but change-up the way it’s served to satisfy your craving for something new. An example of this could be cooking a bean chilli with rice on Monday then serving the chilli as bean burritos with guacamole and salad on Tuesday.
See how many dual meal ideas you can come up with and once you realise how much time it frees up in your weekly schedule I’m sure you’ll become a cook once. eat twice convert too.
Tip 4. Try something new
Do you remember the childhood joy of baking cookies with a grown up? Licking out the bowl and choosing your own sprinkles was the highlight of the day. It was fun not only because of the bonding experience but likely because cooking was still a novelty. There was no stress, no pressure, no expectations. So many of us have forgotten this and take our meals way too seriously.
No-ones paying you to be perfect. Nobody expects Michelin star cuisine 7 night a week. It’s likely the only pressure is coming from you and your own sense of what needs to be done. Whats the worst thing that could happen if you take a few risks and make a few mistakes?
Try experimenting with new ingredients, techniques and cuisines. Watch cooking shows, peruse Pinterest, flip open a cookbook and make the first thing that catches your eye. Join a cooking challenge on Instagram such as the fabulous Miss Marzipans “Food of Thrones” challenge which focuses on Game of Thrones themes.
Mix things up and take a childlike attitude to your next meal. Want breakfast pancakes for tea, why not? Feel like pie for breakfast, let’s make it work. Pick one new ingredient each week that you’ve never tried before. The only real limit is your imagination. Let it run wild.
Tip 5. Stick to the plan
People often find the idea of meal planning a bit daunting. Others yet feel its boring or mundane to have to stick to a plan. Those that embrace meal planning agree that it’s actually extremely freeing. Knowing exactly what you’re eating and that you have all the ingredients to hand allows you to get straight into the cooking without over thinking it. Rather than staring aimlessly into the fridge before speed dialling for pizza you’ll see opportunities to prep and organise ahead of time.
Spending the time beforehand to plan, shop and prep sets you up for success meal after meal. This in turn makes the process quicker and more enjoyable. Being organised allows you to relax and make time for creating and experimenting.
Let me know which of these resonated with you and your favourite ways to make cooking fun in the comments below. Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @applefalltree and share your creations.