Learn how to stay motivated to eat healthy by asking yourself these two important questions!…
Today I have a guest post from my dear cousin, Corinna. She was challenged to blog everyday for 30 days and chose to write about food. Everyday I look forward to reading about what she and her family have been cooking and eating! I really love this following post, which gives practical, real life tips for keeping yourself motivated in the kitchen.
On Staying Motivated (guest post by Corinna)
Let’s face it, cooking every day can lose its charm pretty quickly. Maybe it doesn’t look like I mean that, from all these foodie posts, but I’m no different than anyone else. Coming up with ideas, staring at the fridge and wondering why there’s so much food in there but nothing to make for supper, being tired and hungry exactly when you need to cook, or having small kiddos hanging off your legs as you try to quickly make something more supper worthy than toast – I’ve been there. And truthfully, there are seasons in life where cooking good meals is a lot easier than others. I’m probably in a prime spot right now, with kids in school, working part-time and having a bit more space in my life to plan and prepare decent meals. I worked all day today and coming home, I can’t say the thing I most wanted to do was cook. However, I have found a few key things that I’ve picked up along the way that have made the journey to the kitchen more fun, and less work.
1. Keep a tidy kitchen. Sometimes it’s easy to just leave a dish or two lying around, but I had this crazy revelation recently that, if I just wash the two or three dishes that are sitting there, then they won’t pile up and feel like this enormous, daunting task. Wash one pot! Two spatulas! Put 3 cups in the dishwasher! Amazing – it took 2 whole minutes! Doing small jobs is always so much easier than tackling a big one. And a clean kitchen is a much more inspiring place to cook in.
2. A little planning goes a long way. This is a slightly pretentious picture because I haven’t been using this handy little organizer in months. And I may have just filled in our weeks’ worth of meals for this post. I did use this pretty much all last year, though, and it was a lifesaver. Often on a Sunday night we would chat around the table about what we’d like to eat that week. Having their input also helped with meal time complaints, as they were often meals they chose and liked. It was easier to shop, too, when I knew what I was making, and much easier to cook as half the battle sometimes is figuring out WHAT to cook!
3. Do what you can ahead of time. In Tamar Adler’s book, An Everlasting Meal, she talks about going to the market, buying a bunch of veggies and dealing with them all at once. Roast root and other veggies, steam and sauté greens, boil cabbage…I can’t exactly remember all the things she said which is why you should read it for yourself. It was brilliant. If I know I want to make butternut squash soup, I’ll roast a squash the day before or in the morning. It only takes about 5 minutes to prep it for the oven and then it can cool before you need it. And then, when it’s time to actually make the soup, the work is cut in half. And while that squash is cooking, may as well grab a head of garlic, crack it open a bit, drizzle in some olive oil and wrap it in foil. Bake beside the squash for about 40 minutes and you have amazing roasted garlic in your fridge, to be spread on toast, made into dressing, mixed in with greens…yummy.
4. Find new inspirations. So often I get stuck in a rut before I even realize it, and end up cooking the same type of food week in and week out. It’s so refreshing to grab a cookbook, find something new and just give it a try. We have done this with some pretty weird things, like calamari and gravlox (cured salmon) and it’s fun to do something out of the ordinary. And on those days when you try something different that’s not a main dish, whether it be a dessert or side or something, make the rest of the meal simple. There have been days where I’ve been inspired to make a cheese soufflé or calamari and we just eat that with a big salad or pasta. Tamar Adler talks about balancing the day, not the meal, and that’s helped my thinking too. I remember being inspired to make my own croutons and just made a huge chicken caesar salad for supper once. Everyone loved it! Sometimes one, big, good thing is all you need. I feel the same way about her onion soup – one bowl of that is definitely a satisfying meal. And those caramelized onions make me swoon a little.
5. Get the family involved. My boys are finally at an age where their “help” in the kitchen is becoming actual help, and I love being able to tell Luke to make a salad for supper, which he can now do with a really tasty balsamic dressing. Of course now he criticizes my salads sometimes and will say things like, “it’s good, but it could use more balsamic”. Even getting them involved in stirring a little, or smelling or tasting along the way, especially with new flavours, may help them try something new. Sam is my best bet for this – I remember the first time getting him to try cheesecake batter (okay, I admit that’s hardly a hard new flavour to try), his eyes lit up like Christmas and he almost looked shocked, then slowly this huge smile spread across his face. Priceless. There will be times, for sure, where they do things like put 3x the amount of sugar in a batch of cookies, or make an enormous mess, but I’m counting on some payoffs in later years, where I can leave them to make an entire meal. For now I’m happy with salad and soft boiled eggs and toast, and the occasional mess.
What keeps you inspired in the kitchen?
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