How To Get Motivated To Cook For Your Family

When I was first married I was feeling gun hoe about cooking. I come from a home where every night there was a hot meal on the table.

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A favorite picture I have in my mind is walking in from school on a snowy day and there’s Mom making chicken noodle soup. Puffs of flour in the air from homemade bread. “Hey Sar! How was school?”

When you have her as your Mom your subconscious just knows that someday you’ll get older and make apple pies for your family.

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So...day one of marriage rolls around and...I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea how to put a meal on! Sure I could make eggs and a recipe or two with the best of them but how do I finish the green beans at the same time as the potatoes? How do you cook fish? Where do you buy skirt steak? How do you make the chicken not come out chewy? And where am I going to find the time to do all this?

So I wrote down my best advice to someone like me: who has an interest in cooking but doesn’t know where to begin. 

#1: Just Start

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Choose a simple main course that you like- maybe that you’re somewhat familiar with and then choose a vegetable side and a fruit side. And voila! you already have a meal.

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Here’s an example: Get a can of spaghetti sauce and frozen meatballs, a noodle packet and some green beans for the next night. Cut up some apples. Use a frozen lasagna and make a salad and a can of peaches. Just take it a little at a time and one day you’ll wake up and realize you enjoy cooking and that it’s actually not too difficult. 

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If you are interested in cooking either for your budget, desire to eat healthy, you want to gather your family etc. then don’t give up. It just takes practice. I’ve noticed lots of people- even older women really hate cooking for years and years cause they’ve just never really “started” and therefore not really had success at it. It overwhelms them to think of everything you have to buy, and chop, and bake, and serve and clean up and...and...and...

Don’t make it too crazy. Just start.  

#2: Plan Your Meals Each Week  

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This makes a HUGE difference for me. If I don’t do this then I often don’t cook. 

It doesn’t work very well to roll in after a long day and stare at the fridge for inspiration. 9 times out of 10 we end up eating out on that day cause the Dijon mustard, two floating pickles and cheese chunk in a ziplock aren’t giving me inspiration. 

I find if I take a minute to sit down, write Monday- Friday on a pad of paper and choose what to make each day and then write my list accordingly, I look forward to cooking and I actually have what I need.  

#3 Start With What You Already Have

The first thing I do when I go to plan my food for the week is open my fridge and freezer and see what I need to use.  

I end up saving money and wasting a lot less food if I do this.

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For example, maybe I have some frozen pork, and a Costco meal that’s been there for a little while.  In the fridge I have some leftover heavy cream, half a head of romaine that’s got a couple more days and some carrots that need to be eaten. 

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I’ll use those things as my inspiration for my meals. So for example I’d then say: “I want to use my lettuce soonest so tonight I will do a salad. (I write down tomatoes and cucumber on my grocery list). I have some grapes I’ll serve with it and buy a pork loin and make a sauce. Maybe I’ll do a baked potato with that meal. (I write down what I’ll need). Tuesday night: I won’t be home til later so I’ll use my Costco meal and buy some oranges to cut up. Wednesday: I know a good soup that I can use the cream in that has carrots in it.” You get the idea. Use what you have. The more you cook the more you’ll know how to do this. You’ll start to shop accordingly and save things that you can use later.

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#4: Use New Recipes

Its easy to get in a funk of making meals that are good, easy, and familiar. Everyone needs those meals but I’ve learned when I push myself a little and try new things I end up learning a lot and making food I enjoy more.  

Maybe you had something at a restaurant that sounds way good for dinner. Look up a recipe for it online. Or open a cookbook and choose some things that look delicious. Within these recipes you’ll learn about new flavors, ways of doing things, and concepts that will apply to other recipes. In this way you’ll gradually get better at cooking, it will take less time and you’ll enjoy it more.

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#5 Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

Just know right now that you’ll make mistakes. Every cook does so just plan on it and don’t worry about it. I’ve made plenty of things that were just plain bad. Chewy over cooked chicken, freaky casseroles, weird fish. Sometimes you just choose the wrong recipe or try to adapt it when you don’t have the key ingredient or things burn in the oven. It’s all part of learning.  

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We once had our next door neighbors over for dinner. I cooked a BEAUTIFUL cream based soup. Everything was perfect with 20 minutes to go til their arrival. I left the soup happily bubbling on the stove. As we sat to eat I took a spoonful of the soup. It tasted like cigarettes. The cream had burned and ruined the flavor of the soup :( I was so distraught for the rest of the night that I didn’t help my husband, Mitchell make small talk with the new couple.  

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Be willing to share your food with others even at the risk of messing up. That’s why I like cooking. It’s all about gathering and making people happy. It’s fun to see my husband really enjoy a meal I worked hard at or see my boys asking for more. Good food makes people happy so don’t just not do it cause you don’t know how. 

 I know some of you cooks out there have some of your own tips and tricks. Share them in the comments below.