Cooking has never been my forte. Up until I was about eighteen the only recipes I knew were how to make a sandwich and how to pour a bowl of cereal. As I began developing healthier eating habits I began to realize that I needed to learn how to cook. I tried following confusing recipes, I picked up The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss, but ultimately I just couldn’t find the motivation to cook every day. I started using excuses such as “I don’t have enough time,” or “I’m too tired,” and this internal battle continued for quite some time up until recently. In a somewhat serendipitous fashion, I now find myself addicted to cooking. I’m in the kitchen every day, full of excitement and motivation to learn more and experiment with new foods and recipes. So what happened?
After breaking down the events that led me back into the kitchen I have uncovered five reasons why I was struggling to cook. Here’s how I fixed it.
1. Lack of Motivation and Inspiration
Probably the number one reason people struggle to cook is because they’re simply not excited about it. They see cooking as a laborious means to an end that could be easily solved by buying pre-made food. The solutions that I found that ultimately led to the crescendo of my culinary motivation and inspiration were cooking documentaries.
How to Fix it
Although there are many cooking shows and documentaries that are inspiring, there were two specific ones that I came across that really encouraged me to start cooking more. The first one is a Netflix original documentary series called Cooked. This series goes into the history of cooking from our hunter and gatherer ancestors to modern-day. The goal of this series is to inspire you to get into the kitchen and start cooking and it accomplishing this goal extremely well.
The second documentary is another Netflix original series called Chef’s Table. All of the episodes are excellent but the second and third episodes are truly amazing. After you watch these two documentary series I assure you that you will be motivated and inspired to begin developing your culinary skills.
2. Old Cooking Equipment
For a long time I had been using a cheap frying pan that I would do most of my cooking with. Over time this frying pan became scratched up, the handle became loose and wobbly, and it was simply unappealing to use. It was only until after I purchased a brand new frying pan that I realize that my beaten up old pan had been taking away some of the enjoyment of cooking.
How to Fix it
When we have nice things it makes us more excited to use them and to use them more often. So, if you have a sad-looking frying pan or perhaps you have some old dull knifes, then do yourself a favor and purchase something new that you can be proud of.
3. Too Much Choice
Have you ever noticed why North America doesn’t really have a distinct style of cooking? We essentially take recipes from other parts of the world and put our own twist on them. The reason for this is because do to grocery stores, we have access to a huge variety of ingredients all year-long. This dilutes the creative waters and we develop mediocre meals. The reason why our grandparents are so good at cooking is because they grew up with limited ingredient options. This forced them to bring out the flavors in what was available.
How to Fix it
I’ve recently been trying to eat foods that are as local as possible. This has led me to buying a majority of my groceries from my local farmers market. Since these foods are made with love and are of the highest standards in terms of nutrient density, ethics and sustainability, I feel like these ingredients need to be cooked with care and respect. Also when you eat locally, you are limited to the foods that are in season. This makes you have to work with foods you might not typically due to the lack of variety. This then forces you to experiment with new ingredients, recipes and flavors which all add to the excitement of cooking.
4. I Had a Weak Spice Cabinet
When I first moved out, my Father gave me the beginnings of a basic spice cabinet which I would have never have thought to buy myself. There’s nothing that will slow you down more than trying to follow a recipe and realizing you are missing half of the ingredients.
How it Fix it
Having a decent spice cabinet is fun because it allows you to freely experiment with new flavors and combinations. Cooking eggs is the best example of this. Because eggs are relatively plain, they take on seasoning and spice really well and you’re able to find out what works well together and what doesn’t. This makes even the simplest venture into the kitchen exciting.
5. I Cooked Just to Eat
For a long time I looked at food from a utilitarian view-point. I ate for sustenance and that was it. It was only after I began cooking that I realized that I was missing out on so much more.
How to Fix it
I noticed that one of the best feelings aside from getting to eat your beautiful food is being able to share your beautiful food. Making homemade food is the healthiest way to eat but sharing with your friends or a significant other is what is truly nourishing. Also when you execute a well-made dish it makes you feel good about yourself and builds confidence. When you’re always creating in the kitchen, sharing your creations with people or with social media, it gives you a big boost in motivation and pushes you to cook and experiment with more complex dishes.
Most of us know that if we cooked more we would save more money, we would be healthier and we would most likely be leaner. Yet, this isn’t enough motivation to get us in the kitchen. After taking this journey I’ve realized that cooking has a lot more depth than I thought. Cooking can be a form of creative expression, it can be wisdom, it can build relationships and confidence, and it can improve our environment if we use ingredients from sustainable sources. Learning how to cook is a gift that you give yourself and I hope that this article inspires you start developing this ancient and primal skill of ours.
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