The fall of the year is a great time to get into the kitchen. If you love cooking, nothing is more grounding, comforting and enjoyable than nourishing yourself and your family with soups, stews, roasts, hearty root veggies and an array of baked goods with apples and pears. Can’t you just smell that sweet apple crisp baking in the oven?
But I also hear from many of my clients who don’t like to cook, that it can feel like a chore, take too much time and can get boring cooking the same meals over and over again.
We all get in food and cooking ruts from time to time.
Like when you find yourself microwaving frozen lunches, eating leftovers from that Sunday chicken for the past week, or wolfing down that drive-thru sub on the way to book club.
If this is you, I have some tips to help make it more fun. Here are my best “fun” cooking tips:
Fun Cooking Tip #1 – Check out new recipes
I just love pouring a hot cup of tea and sitting down with a stack of cookbooks to leaf through. Sometimes just seeing the beautiful food photos and reading the recipe can spark some inspiration and new ideas.
Especially as the seasons turn, I like to get reacquainted with the flavours and what mother nature is offering us at that time of year.
If you aren’t a big cookbook collector like me, you can easily search online by looking up your favourite nutritionists, chefs, bakers, and other online foodies. Maybe do a quick search on Google or Pinterest to see thousands of new ideas.
Pro Tip: Searching through recipes can be so fun and inspiring and can also end up taking waaaay longer than planned. So consider setting your timer when you start browsing. The last thing you want is to take too much time looking, that you don’t leave enough time for cooking.
Fun Cooking Tip #2 – Make grocery shopping fun and inspiring
To be honest, food shopping is one of me and Mike’s favourite things to do. (He’s my hubby) 🙂 Yup we are food nerds!
If you’ve been following me for awhile you’ll know that we go to our local Farmers’ Markets every Saturday and try to get as much as we can from our local farmers and producers.
My suggestion is that after you’ve come up with a few new recipes, make your grocery list and head out to get the ingredients you need.
And don’t limit your new ideas to those recipes, you can also be inspired while you’re at the grocery store, Farmer’s Market, gourmet deli, or health food store.
Check out what’s in season or new this week. Browse around the produce section to see what strikes your fancy. Is there a seasonal fruit or vegetable you haven’t had for awhile? What about a childhood favourite? Did you come across something totally delicious at a restaurant or get-together lately that you can find the ingredients for?
Be adventurous and have some fun. Once you have these new ingredients you can go back to tip #1 to find new and inspiring recipes when you get home.
Fun Cooking Tip #3 – Keep it simple!
To be honest, my husband Mike is more the gourmet cook in our relationship. He loves to find complicated recipes with exotic ingredients, uncommon cooking techniques and many many steps. He’ll spend days working up a recipe.
I on the other hand am a good cook, but it’s simple. I rarely follow a recipe, like one pot meals and have a knack for looking at the ingredients in the fridge and conjuring up quick, tasty meals.
I spent many years waitressing while going through university and think I developed a pretty good instinct of what ingredients work together, have a decent amount of creativity and imagination, fairly solid cooking techniques and a good understanding of flavour pairings and seasonings.
But it has to be simple.
A few ways to keep things simple are to:
- Search for recipes with 10 or fewer ingredients
- Make sure you are familiar with most of the ingredients
- Look for short directions or instructions – five or less is good
- Search for recipes that can be made in one pot or pan
- Buy ingredients that are ready to cook with (pre-washed salad greens, pre-cut veggies)
- Have your fridge and pantry well stocked with the staples so you can throw together a quick meal
Fun Cooking Tip #4. Put on some music and invite someone to join you
Most Sunday afternoons you’ll find Mike and I in the kitchen. We’ve got the music on, each with our separate tasks, chopping boards ready and knives in hand. Pots are simmering, oven is producing heavenly smells and we are in our glory. Laughing, joking, singing and having a great time.
My girlfriend had a wonderful idea to get her kids interested in cooking. She took them to the bookstore where they each selected a cookbook. Once a week they pick a new recipe to try. They head out to the local grocer together to buy their ingredients and then it’s home to prepare their meals. They are excited and learning about cooking, where their food comes from and great skills. And it works because it starts with them and their ideas.
Maybe you and your girlfriend get together once a month to make big batches of soups, stews, sauces, healthy baked goods, etc. You share the time together catching up and you’re doing something productive and healthy. At the end of the day you have a freezer stocked for a few weeks. Isn’t this a much better idea than sitting around with a bottle of wine and a bag of potato chips? (Well let’s face it that has it’s place as well!)
Fun Cooking Tip #5 – If none of the other tips work for you, invest in some kitchen swag!
Nothing gets us excited about being in the kitchen more than new kitchen gadgets, appliances or utensils.
One of our favourite places to shop are kitchen stores. If you are anything like Mike and I you can spend hours browsing, perusing and dreaming in kitchen stores.
Having proper kitchen tools makes cooking so much easier, faster and enjoyable.
When’s the last time you sharpened your (or bought yourself a new) knife? Could dicing carrots with a dull knife be draining the fun from cooking? Or is blending a smoothie with a crummy blender, leaving it too chunky to enjoy?
While you could spend multiple fortunes stocking up your kitchen, even a cheap cutting board, new place mats or veggie peeler can bring the fun back.
What new kitchen item would inspire you to get back to cooking?
You know that home cooking is key to healthy eating. And, while you do a pretty good job most of the time, it can get boring and tedious. I get it.
I hope that my fun cooking tips have inspired you to get back into the kitchen so you can nourish yourself and your family, not only with good food, but with a fun healthy activity that can bring you closer together. It’s a win win all around.
Try one (or all) of my fun cooking tips to inspire you. You already know your health will thank you.
Recipe (simple and fun): Sheet Pan Eggs
This recipes is not only simple but it’ll give you a week’s worth of breakfasts so you can use your morning time in some other fun way!
Servings = 8
- 12 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of your favourite chopped veggies – onions, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, pre-cooked sweet potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground back paper
- Optional – 1/2 cup chopped pre-cooked bacon, sausage, ground beef or turkey
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Grease a 10 x 15 rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.
- In a large bowl crack all the eggs and whisk until frothy.
- Add in the veggies, seasonings and meat if using. Mix together.
- Pour egg mixture onto baking sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until set.
- I switched over to the broiler for the last 5 minutes to really firm up the eggs.
Cut the eggs into 8 portions and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the oven or even enjoy cold.
Pro Tip: Feel free to get creative with these. Make a Mexican version with peppers, onions, leftover chicken, salsa and taco seasoning. Try an Italian flare with onions, tomatoes, zucchini, sausage and fresh basil. Go Greek with peppers, olives, red onion and oregano and a bit of feta.
Have fun with this!
Check out the pictures I posted of my sheet pan eggs in this post on Well Nourished with Michelle. We’d love to see your pictures and hear what combinations you are going to try.