Cooking can be such a schlep but we know, and you know, it must be done. But between going to the market, choosing ingredients, stuffing your totes with groceries du jour, then figuring out how to combine them into something edible can be a daunting task. Take a breath bunny rabbit; cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are five tips to help you go from relying on take-out to turning your kitchen into a formidable food factory.
Be a Basic
Deep down inside, we all aspire to chop an onion like a ninja and keep track of three simultaneously cooking pots with precision. However, basic cooking goes a long way. Throw some rice in a rice-cooker while you saute simple greens in a skillet; make a batch of beans, use a prepared sauce, sear a few chicken breasts with just salt and lemon. When you make a bevy of simple dishes, you can combine them to create quick meals. Save the flambe-fumbles for showing off in front of company.
Befriend the Freezer
There’s a reason your fridge and freezer are snuggled so tightly together, they’re friends. However, aside from using it as an ice cream containment device, we tend to ignore the freezer. When you start to think of the ice box as a handy tool, cooking becomes a lot less treacherous. Those herbs you bought in bulk don’t have to see a rotting herb death. Instead, they can be chopped and frozen in your ice cube tray with a bit of oil. Many fruit and veggies can hang out in the freezer until you’re ready to use them as well. Clear out the icy stalagmites to make room for future food.
Keeping staples handy is key and your pantry can be a real meal-maker. Aside from the basics such as olive oil, salt, and pepper, stocking the pantry with a variety of grains, canned goods, and spices will encourage variation come cooking time. Often we opt for take-out when meals at home feel repetitive or boring. As such, using spice variations (a dash of garam masala here, a sprinkle of garlic salt there) can add intrigue to your go-to dishes and inspire more exploration in the kitchen. Plus, should the apocalypse finally come, you’ll have a steady supply of non-perishables to keep up your zombie-fighting strength.
Save the Date
Dating yourself is a sad notion but setting aside one day to focus on your food is a way to make sure you’re well fed. Pick a day (perhaps when the farmer’s market rolls through town) to dedicate to gathering, prepping, cooking, and packing your meals. Creating a special date pulls all the amoebus thoughts and anxieties that surround cooking into one space, quashing doubts that you’ll be too tired after work to cook. Once you’ve dedicated alone time to cooking, you’ll want to reap what you’ve sewn and thoughts of ordering out will be moved to the back burner.
Imagine a clean, classy array of containers in sizes, shapes, and colors. We are creatures of keeping order and when things aren’t cluttered, we thrive. The same is true for keeping your food categorized. Nobody likes a jammed-on tupper top or mismatched containers. Get a matching set of glass ware—big ones for salads, tiny tubs for sauces, and the like—then fill them with portion-controlled homemade meals. When you give yourself the storage tools to keep your meals in order, the rest of life feels more carefree and cooking becomes more structured, sunshine.