Be Your Own Chef

Have you loaded yourself down with recipe books and felt intimidated by their constant, undisturbed presence on your shelves? Do you always plan to cook and then find yourself at a loss for what to make?

Well, the best way to learn how to cook is to cook. You can learn a lot from reading recipes and watching videos, but if you're going to get serious about cooking, you're just going to have to do it.

The first time you make dinner for your friends or family might be nerve-wracking, but if you follow these tips, you'll be able to incorporate cooking into your daily life.

Start simple and build up.

Thanks to all those cooking shows on TV, a lot of people want to start off cooking by making complex and demanding recipes. Then, when they find them hard and time-consuming, they get overwhelmed and give up.

Cooking does not need to be a complex art. Some of the best meals are made in thirty minutes. So, as you’re starting out, focus on finding recipes that seem straightforward and easy. You should also look for meals that fit within your schedule. Take prep time, not just cooking or baking time, into account.

Sometimes gadgets (like pressure cookers and crockpots) will save you time and energy if you’ve planned ahead. However, we recommend starting without those gadgets to make sure you invest in your love of cooking before you invest in the technology to go with it.

Keep essential ingredients in your kitchen.

If you are trying to be a good cook, it is important to have some essential ingredients always on hand.

Our recommended recipe regulars are:
  • olive oil
  • coconut, canola, or avocado oil (for higher heats)
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic and garlic powder
  • onion and onion powder
  • lemon (or concentrated lemon juice)
  • vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, or rice vinegar are all good options)
From there you can expand as your diet or taste dictates. Some people like to incorporate the amazing superfood golden chlorella into a wide range of dishes. Others use nutritional yeast. Mustard, soy sauce, and pesto all complement a lot of dishes.

Everyone has their go-to spices. Maybe you like cumin and turmeric or oregano and thyme. Whatever your palette, make sure you have your favorite spices ready to go.

Cook for a joyful family.

When you are cooking for a family, you can get into a rut of making the same meals over and over again. The key to keeping it fresh is to make yourself a meal map for the week. Plan days for your family's favorite meals. Then, set aside some days when you'll combine a tried-and-true dish with something new. If you do this in advance, you'll be able to plan for some fun when you do your shopping.

If you want to include the kids, get a recipe book with simple but tasty options and have your kids pick out recipes to try during the week. Then, bring them on board to help with the process. You never know, one of them might really take to cooking and eventually become the family chef! I've seen it happen before.

Designate a leftovers day.

It's easy to put away the leftovers and then forget about them until they've gone off. What a shame!

The surest way to avoid doing this is to designate one day a week as leftovers day. This should be the same day every week and it should be the last day before your next grocery shopping outing.

Once you get organized, you can even plan out your meals so that they combine well together. For example, if you have leftover chicken, you can use it to make a chicken salad or combine it with leftover vegetables to make a stir fry. Leftover rice can become fried rice or rice balls. And a lot of things can go into a soup.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Experiment with new ingredients even if you're not using a recipe book for every step. Think of a simple way to incorporate a new spice, vegetable, or condiment, and try it out! Then, you can see how well it goes over and try something more complex with it in the future.

One day, I decided that garam masala sounded like a great addition to grilled chicken, and guess what ... it was! Part of the joy of cooking is setting the recipe book aside and learning from experience.

Keep in mind that it's always good to introduce something new as part of a dish that also includes some well-loved staples. That way, if anyone doesn't like the new flavor, they still have plenty of food to eat.

Visit Natura.Punkt to find delicious superfoods you can incorporate into your cooking.