Are you feeling a little rusty in the kitchen? You’re not alone.
According to a study from the Harvard Business Review, only about 15% of people polled reported that they loved to cook, while 35% reported being “so-so” about it, and 50% of people reported they “hated” to cook.
With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that people are spending more and more money on food prepared outside of the home. But let’s be honest, there are plenty of positives to prepping your own food, including cost effectiveness, the comfort of your own home (where else are pants optional?) and the food is made to order every time.
Sounds great, but it’s not always that easy.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help you get back into the kitchen, and have fun while you’re there! From starting small and keeping it simple, to trying out new cuisines and techniques, there are so many ways to reignite your love for cooking. Read on to find one (or several ways) that speak to you.
Here are 18 tried-and-true ways to get back into cooking:
1. Take a cooking class
If you're feeling stuck in a rut and want to expand your culinary horizons, consider signing up for a cooking class. You'll learn new techniques and maybe even discover a new passion. Whether you’re looking for an online or in-person class, there are tons of options available.
Click here for a list of IMPASTIAMO’s class offerings. If you’re on a budget, check out your local library or community centers for any available classes.
2. Keep it simple
Don't feel like you have to tackle a complex recipe or nine course meal right off the bat. There’s plenty of time for you to channel your inner Julia Child, but while you’re in the process of getting back into the kitchen, stick with basic dishes that you know how to make, or try out a new recipe that has only a few ingredients.
Building your confidence and enjoying what you prepare is a strong motivator to keep going.
3. Get creative with your leftovers
Don't let leftover food go to waste! Get creative and use them to make something new, like turning leftover roast chicken into a stir-fry or repurposing leftover mashed potatoes into potato pancakes.
For more ideas, check out our blog post on How to Prevent Food Waste at Home.
4. Turn on some tunes
Music has a way of making even the most mundane tasks more enjoyable. Put on your favorite playlist and let it inspire your culinary creations. Perhaps a French Bistro playlist will set the right mood for you. Or maybe some classic rock beats get you motivated to stir and chop. Whether Etta James or Post Malone is your favorite kitchen companion, we’re not here to question it! This is your time— so get your jam on.
Think: every woman in a romantic comedy alone in her kitchen, but with more cooking and less lip syncing.
5. Embrace frozen and canned goods
Frozen vegetables, canned tomatoes, and other shelf-stable ingredients can be a lifesaver when you're short on time or energy. They're also often more affordable than fresh produce, and you won’t be faced with racing the clock to use it before nature takes its course. Having a small stash of various versatile vegetables on hand is a great way to stay prepared for home cooking– because no one wants to start a recipe only to realize they forgot an ingredient or two.
6. Take advantage of seasonal produce
Cooking with ingredients that are in season can make your meals taste fresher and more flavorful. Check out your local farmers market or join a CSA to get access to fresh, locally-grown produce. This is also a great way to broaden your horizons and experiment with cooking with ingredients that may not be in your usual wheelhouse.
7. Try out a new spice or herb
Adding new spices and herbs to your recipes can give them a totally different flavor profile. Experiment with different combinations to see what you like best. For even more flair, challenge yourself to try cooking with fresh herbs or grind your own spices.
8. Experiment with international flavors
Trying out new cuisines can be a fun and rewarding way to shake things up in the kitchen. You may be surprised that some of your favorite international dishes are not nearly as difficult to make as you might imagine. Don’t let a list of unfamiliar ingredients scare you away; there are tons of simplified recipes for beginner cooks, and you can work your way up in complexity as you gain experience.
9. Try out a new cooking technique
Whether it's blanching or braising, frizzling or flambé, learning a new cooking technique can be a fun way to get excited about making your own meals. Cooking is all about trial and error, so don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. You'll learn from them and become a better cook in the process.
10. Get inspired
There are many great recipe apps, food blogs, and cooking shows out there that can help you find new recipes and keep track of your favorites. There are an endless amount of recipes online, often with several versions of the same one. If you didn’t love a particular dish before, look for a recipe with a different ingredient list or technique, which might change your mind.
11. Buy a cookbook
Kick it ‘old-school’ and find a cookbook that speaks to you, then work your way through it. Cookbooks are a great way to discover new recipes and get inspired in the kitchen, with the added bonus of doubling as decoration. Look for one with recipes that suit your tastes and skill level.
12. Use a cooking journal
Keeping a cooking journal can be a great way to track your progress and document your favorite recipes. Write down what you made, any changes you made to the recipe, and your thoughts on the final dish. For more motivation, you could also tally up the total cost vs. what you would have spent on take-out or in a restaurant.
13. Find a cooking mentor
If you want to improve your cooking skills, consider finding someone who can mentor you and provide guidance and support. This could be a friend, family member, or even a professional chef. Having someone to turn to for advice and encouragement can help you stay motivated and on track. For an even more special experience, ask an older relative to share their family recipes. Not only will you inherit a piece of your culture and lineage, but you can actively help to keep those traditions alive.
14. Make it a family affair
Involve the kids or your roomies in the cooking process by giving them simple tasks to help with, like pouring, mixing, or setting the table. Not only will they learn valuable life skills, but they'll also be more likely to eat what they've helped to prepare.
Check out this article for an in-depth look at the benefits of cooking in early childhood.
15. Make it romantic
Turn date-night-in into a steamy activity and create something yummy with your partner. Cooking can be a great way to bond with your significant other. You just might have so much fun that you want to make it a weekly date night activity, trying out new recipes together.
16. Use a slow cooker
Slow cookers are a great tool for busy home cooks. You can toss in a bunch of ingredients in the morning, and come home to a hot, ready-to-eat meal in the evening. Did you know you can cook an entire small chicken in the crock pot? Toss it in there with some seasoning, and come home to ready-to-shred-chicken that falls off the bone! Think outside the pot, and you’ll be amazed at the creative ways there are to simplify mealtime.
17. Plan ahead
On the weekends or your days off, plan and prep meals for the week ahead. This will save you time and energy during the busy work week. Simply choose a few recipes, do all your chopping and prepping on the weekend, and you'll have easy, grab-and-go meals for the week.
18. Try a recipe box service
Recipe box services deliver all the ingredients you need for a recipe right to your doorstep along with step-by-step instructions for each dish. It's a great way to try new things without having to think about grocery shopping. There are so many different meal options to choose from, including plant based, dairy free, Keto, and more.
If you’re among the many people who want to use the new year as a kickstart for some new habits, take this as your sign to get back into the kitchen! If you have questions, we’re here to help. Let’s work together to make 2023 delicious.
(hint hint: how about starting the year out with a delicious, homemade tiramisú?)