7 Habits of Highly Successful Home Cooks
Successful home cooks are good at the craft, not by chance. A successful home cook can rely on LUCK, “when opportunity meets preparedness”, as Deepak Chopra has defined it. With a few good habits, a dash of time, and a pinch of willingness, you are well on your way to finding the LUCK in your home kitchen.
Developing these new habits, which may take a couple of weeks, depending on how often you do decide to cook, can help you on the path of becoming a stellar home cook.
1. Let go of outcomes:
Of course, after you have set clear intentions, that is.
- Move into the cooking landscape with some clear intentions. Then… let them go and immerse yourself in the act. Not that you should not care what the end result will be, but knowing that it’s not the all in all, helps to focus attention on the process.
- Accept that trial and error is oftentimes the precursor for new learning. Assure yourself that mastery can be the inevitable, so long as excuses and quitting are not welcomed.
- Be in a state of present awareness. Be childlike. Be curious, fluid and open to what the moment brings.
Balancing home life with work life is a challenge for many of us. After a long day, cooking a meal may not be at the forefront, as should it be. Planning and a little preparation will melt anxiety, slow things down a bit and best of all rejuvenate and nourish you. Motivation enough to keep the cycle moving.
- Pre-chopping vegetables (especially foundational foods like onions, garlic, ginger). Soaking beans, boiling grains during downtimes, can be a real benefit for when times get hectic. Weekends are a great time to stock the fridge with your own ready-made building blocks for future meals.
- Creating a weekly menu plan does not translate into rigidity. No one will call the cooking cop if you should decide, for whatever reason that you want to swap meals and days. You can give yourself is some flexibility. Just think of it as a blueprint that will at the least get you thinking about your next meal.
- A clean and well-equipped cooking space wouldn’t hurt either. No, you don’t need lots of fancy gadgets, but some basic cooking accessories like a good cutting board, good knives, a food processor, storage containers, a blender, can definitely come in handy and save time in the long run. Assess for yourself whether less is more or more is less. More tools =Less time. More time=less tools. But, the trade-off very well may be forming a deeper connection with your food.
3. Organize & Budget:
It’s easy for us to recognize how organization makes work life more manageable. When we organize our closets, we know what we have to wear, for what occasion and what not to buy more of. This same idea can be applied to an aspect of our livelihood that we often overlook, our cooking life.
- Evaluate the pantry, cupboards and cabinets. Non-perishables like grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and fats, makes cooking less complicated. It makes it easy enough to fill the gaps with fresh produce. Keep track and restock as needed.
- Create a budget based on weekly menu plan and make purchases based on what you plan to prepare and whatever you already have on hand. It’s a great way to reduce or keep consistent with your grocery bill and not overspend on unplanned food items.
- Foodcycling: Reinvent meals with leftovers. Reduce carbon imprint and waste less. Beans are an ideal food to prepare in larger quantities because they are so versatile and keep well in the refrigerator for at least one week. You can meet your protein needs by using them to prepare tacos, burritos, bean sauces, rice and beans.
4. Manage time:
This is very much an individual or family determinant. Depending on your work and family life, you can include dinner prep time on your daily list of to-dos. Guesstimate how much time it will take. Execute. Give or take, but it will move you forward with a better sense of just how much time it will actually take you to make your meal happen. This will only strengthen your planning process.
Once you say yes to wanting to be the best home cook you can imagine yourself being, it’s much about routine and the repetition that comes with it. You may or may not get it the first around, or the second or third. But trust that you will. As with most things, patience, practice will pay off. Once you figure out the best time to prepare your meals, stick with it. Whether your motivation is to simply save money, quickly lose weight, aggressively maintain weight, take control over your health or just for the fun of trying something new, it’s a commitment worth making. Each time you do it, the more swiftly you will move and the less time it will require.
6. No shame in semi-homemade.
Say yes to short cuts! It’s a starting point. If unexpected events hinder on the time it would generally take to prepare a meal. No worries! You may not have to grind your own spices (unless inclined to do so). Ready made sauces, marinades, dressings, spices, rubs, and dips can still be healthy additions that will flavor your food. It does not have to be an everyday habit. The freedom to bend is always a plus. And don’t forget that reading labels and making wise choices should still be high priority. As usual, be mindful of preservatives, chemical additives and expiration dates.
7. Be open, Be creative
- Trust your intuition to guide you.
- Open yourself up to experimenting with new foods. Be present while shopping at the grocery store, and be surprised by what may call on your attention. Bring it home. Play.
- Refer to cookbooks, visit sites for ideas of how to cook something new, call a friend whose food you love and ask for some pointers. All very humbling experiences and all very worth it! All of this will eventually spark creativity, with less reliance on outside sources and more recipes to call your own.
Plan well, eat well, and be well.
Get your cook on! I’d love to hear about your successes and failures and how you became the best cook in your home.