It’s the first week of January, and your New Years cooking resolution is to make more food from scratch.
You’ll want to make it as easy for yourself to continue with your goal.
This means staying inspired, but also doing whatever it takes to facilitate the cooking process.
Here are my best tips on how to stick to your New Years cooking resolution.
1. Get yourself a sharp knife
A knife is the #1 most important tool in your kitchen. If you have a dull knife, or a knife that’s not doing a good job of cutting your veggies, you’ll be slower, more frustrated, and not as precise. If you want to be efficient in the kitchen, start with a good knife. If you already have one, get it sharpened or learn to sharpen it yourself with this awesome tool.
2. Inventory your kitchen
Do you have the tools you need to make the cooking process efficient? Is your kitchen cluttered with tools you don’t use and could put away? Having an organized kitchen that’s not full of crap is a big step in making cooking more enjoyable. You’ll also be faster not having to sift through drawers full of stuff you don’t need. For a list of tools, click here. And I’d say if you were to get one today, this microplane zester is essential for adding quick flavor boosts to food.
3. Stock your pantry
Having grains in the pantry (if you eat them,) easy access to frozen or canned protein, aromatics like onions, garlic and curry paste, flavor agents like tamari, mirin, and sesame oil, canned goods like tomatoes and coconut milk can go a LONG way into making quick, easy meals that don’t require a plan. Here are some pantry essentials you’ll want to stock – because I cannot stress how much of a difference this makes when it comes to actually making dinner.
4. Plan your meals
I am not a planner. I don’t love planning. But I must admit to feeling MUCH better when I do get around to planning my meals. When I don’t, however, having a stocked pantry to rely on where I can use my creativity to put meals together is my back up plan. It’s not a skill everyone has, so this is when planning can come into use. Use this planning tool to make your process easier, and don’t try to plan more than 3-4 meals at a time or you may feel overwhelmed.
5. Find 2-3 cookbooks that inspire you
These are mine, but you’ll probably want simpler cookbooks for weeknight meals. Mark Bittman, Dona Hay, Sally Schneider do a great job with this. Stay away from Pinterest trying to find picture perfect foods you’ll never actually make. It’s a good way to get an idea of the kinds of foods you want in your life, but most people find it overwhelming for meal planning. Sit down with a real book, note the recipes you want to try, and try a couple a week mixed in with your current favorites.
6. Practice a new technique
Understanding some basic cooking techniques will truly help you cook better food. Most recipes call for cooking the onion until translucent, but no one knows what that means. Things like knowing how to sweat an onion (cooking in oil on medium heat for 7-10 minutes) to create a deep flavor base without crunchy onions in your plate. Or how to cook a steak properly. Practicing these techniques will make you a better cook, and becoming a better cook will help you want to cook more.
Yes, this is a lot to do to get you ready to COOK in 2016. But setting yourself up for success now, rather than later, is the way to keep up with this resolution.
Get cooking! You’ll be a lot healthier and happier for it.