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2 CREATIVE WAYS TO MAKE COOKING MORE ENJOYABLE


Whether you’re looking to manage your weight, or gain lean muscle, cooking is in fashion, and for good reason.


Now, I’m all for eating out. It’s convenient, it’s fast, and usually very easily accessible. There’s no doubt that convenience food has its time and its place, and how frequently it's done is dependent entirely on the individual’s needs, and preferences.


MOMMA'S HOME COOKING


I however was raised by a mother who always insisted that homemade was best, and that shop bought was second rate compared to momma’s recipes.


Sure, her decisions to feed me in that way were likely influenced by lack of finances, and sure, it meant that sometimes I’d get odd shaped, and off coloured knock offs of the originals sold in the shops, and sure, I was resentful at the time and jealous of the other kids and the cool lunch boxes they had…


…SURE! what kid wouldn’t be?


But now I champion the home-made, and I’ll tell you why.


Despite the yummy treats I may have missed out on, I learnt from my mum something far more valuable, and that is the value of cooking, which I now consider to be a life-skill as important as being able to swim, or drive a car….which I still can’t do!


THE MANY VALUES OF COOKING


  • I learnt how to feed myself instead of relying on others, and how to be creative (these have carry on effects to other areas of life by the way).

  • I became accustomed to quality food. I may have preferred shop bought as a child, but as my regular food was generally made at home, I became accustomed to more wholesome ingredients until inferior choices genuinely didn’t taste as good.

  • I learnt to celebrate the process of cooking. From licking bowls of chocolate mixture, to creating fresh, fun pizza’s by hand, to decorating iced biscuits. It was exciting because food is exciting.

  • I learnt patience. We live in a culture of instant gratification, and while it is important to stay nourished and not go hungry, waiting for a meal that has been prepared from scratch helps you to build an appetite so that when the meal comes, you can truly appreciate the taste.

NOT TO MENTION THAT...

  • It’s cheaper than eating out

  • You get to decide exactly what you want, when you want

  • It promotes creativity

  • Helps you to be mindful and in the moment

  • Brings people together

  • Cultivates gratitude (You appreciate food, and where it came from, a lot more when you have to cook it yourself)

MOST OF ALL, IT TEACHES YOU TO BECOME RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU EAT


Just like the habit of regular exercise, cooking your own food is a discipline, and means you have to make an effort to nourish yourself.


It can be a real struggle to learn even the basics for many, and even harder to find the time, but it is exactly the challenging nature of it, that makes it so rewarding.


DO YOU EVEN COOK?

Of course, there are many people who don’t cook. Now if you don’t have time, then I’ll save your dilemma for another post.


If you are someone who does have time, and is potentially open to cooking, but is put off by the hassle of shopping, carrying groceries, unloading them, thinking of recipes, cooking an entire meal that will be gone in a few minutes, and then having to do all of the washing up afterwards, then this my friend, is for you.


Here are 2 options to revolutionise the way you look at cooking and make it more creative and enjoyable.


2 CREATIVE WAYS TO MAKE COOKING MORE ENJOYABLE


  1. REFRAME THE SITUATION

  2. MODIFY THE SITUATION


1. COGNITIVE REFRAMING


Reframing is a therapy technique used to change your view on a situation, person, or event, or anything, by changing the meaning of it. This can make us more resilient, and more resilience is necessary when it comes to any of our goals, because like I always say, failure is guaranteed on any journey. But true failure only happens when you stop.


Reframing a situation that is disempowering is an essential tool when it comes to success. An example might be of you thinking about how badly your day went. You may have even lost your job, and be feeling quite low, and that it is all your fault. A reframe would be to change this disempowering thought, into an empowering one like…


“It sucks that I lost my job, but at the same time I’ve been wanting to leave that job for years, and that was the push I needed. It will take some adjustment, but now I have time to follow my dream career instead of wasting my years and time.”


IT’S NOT ABOUT POSITIVE THINKING. IT’S ABOUT ACTIVE THINKING


It’s not about lying to yourself with positive thinking and pretending that you love it, but rather about intentionally focusing on all the positive parts of the situation so that you can enjoy it. You can develop the habit of looking under the surface, because sometimes the positives are hidden and you have to be active in finding them, and sometimes you have to create them.


SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO CREATE POSITIVE THOUGHTS INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR THEM


What might be some reframes you could make around cooking?


The clue is in starting with the common problems.


  • COMMON PROBLEM: It takes too long to cook

  • REFRAME: I love having this time to slow down and do something for myself. I am also getting quicker each time with practice, and I can save the leftovers for lunch tomorrow which will save me time and money.


  • COMMON PROBLEM: I’m too tired to cook

  • REFRAME: I know that this will take effort, but by cooking this nourishing food, I will have something that energizes me and helps me to be productive for the rest of my day, where as I know that donut will only give me temporary energy and then give me crash which will make me even more tired.


  • COMMON PROBLEM: What’s the point if I’m the only one eating?

  • REFRAME: It’s true that no one else will see what I’ve made (unless you count instagram!), but I’m still worth taking a little extra time and effort for so that I can enjoy a meal with all of my senses.


  • COMMON PROBLEM: Shopping takes up so much time

  • REFRAME: When I shop, I also get plenty of exercise, and can use it as an opportunity to walk more, and holding the shopping bags keeps me strong.


THE TRICK IS TO ADD YOUR OWN VALUE


The idea is to make up your own reframes that will justify to yourself why this is an empowering process that will add more value to your life, and overall wellbeing. The more you can practice this habit, the easier it will get, and the better you will be at it.

2. MODIFY THE SITUATION


Your other option to try is to modify the situation to make it more enjoyable. After all, if you create bad associations with the eating process then you will by default condition negative associations with cooking and that’s not going to make you want to repeat the experience.


Here, let’s break down the process into the obvious phases involved and see how we can spice them up a bit.


SHOPPING:

To cook, you need ingredients. You need to go shopping, but that can be a burden for many. Here are some ways to add some flare to shopping.


SHOP ONLINE:

  • You don’t even need to leave the house. Make a shopping list online, and then just order from it whenever you need to. It is time saving, and you can even save your list, so you only have to click buy. It can literally take a matter of seconds to have it done.

BRING YOUR KIDS:

  • Teach your kids history and geography, as you go around the supermarket, showing them all the wonderful foods that have been imported from all over world, and how they got there. Or even how to do maths by counting the prices of the food as you go. Help them to be creative and pick what they would like to eat, and to experiment with novelty foods to help them become well rounded eaters.


BUY FOR CHARITY:

  • Homelessness is a real problem in many countries and on a daily basis we may find ourselves walking past people begging for money. Buying extra food for those in need, is a more ethical way to be charitable, and can also help to give you a sense of purpose while you do your shopping beyond your own needs.


BRING A FRIEND/PARTNER:

  • Make it a social event and be adventurous together. Having someone else to do the shopping with you can help to turn it from a snooze to real bonding time.


MAKE IT A WORKOUT:

  • Carrying shopping bags is without a doubt one of the greatest exercises you can ever do. People pay good money to go to gyms and use fancy equipment to mimic exercises exactly like carrying shopping bags, and you can do it for free on your weekly shop!

  • Set yourself a distance to walk home with the bags. It doesn’t have to be all the way if it’s too far. If you drive, then you can park a bit further away, or take public transport a few stops later.

  • If bags are too heavy, then investing in a wheelie shopping bag is a great way to still get your walking in.


COOKING THE MEAL:


RECIPES:

  • Thinking of what to cook can really be taxing on your energy. Especially if it’s for more people than yourself. The trick is to collect your own recipes so that you never have to think. You can use the internet or a good old fashioned recipe book. Check out my recipes here for some extra ideas.


  • At first you might just have a few, but over time as you add to your collection, you will have so many recipes that you never need to think again, unless you want to

MUSIC:


  • Get some good beats going, and play some funky music. I find that my days are so busy that I rarely have time to listen to music, so cooking is the perfect opportunity

  • You can even match the music to the meal to infuse it with a unique flavour. Try Beethoven on full blast for a dramatic, stir-fry, or how about some old school hip-hop as you rustle up a quick omelette. Enjoy the meal with something calming, or entertain a date with romantic music.


COOK IN BULK:

  • Try cooking up huge batches so that you don’t have to cook so often. You can freeze meals down into tuppawear containers, and have meals for the whole week.

MAKE IT SOCIAL LIKE ITALIANS:

  • If I’ve learnt anything from Italians, it’s that cooking and eating together can enhance the experience exponentially. They make an event of it. They cut, chop, grate, cook, chat, and laugh, to build a healthy appetite, and a culture that influences the world.

SET THE SCENE:

  • Eating isn’t just about the taste. It involves all of the senses to truly delight in the process. Set the table. Put on some candles. Dim the lights. Make a space to truly relax, and be able to eat at a calm pace.

MAKE IT LOOK GOOD LIKE THE JAPANESE

  • It can be tempting to just chuck the food on your plate in any old heap. Especially when you’re just cooking for one, or when you know that you’ll barely be looking at the food at all because you’ll be too busy staring at Netflix while you eat. The way you present the food however, can have a huge effect on how much you enjoy the meal and the Japanese are a great examples of taking in pride in how the meal. |Research has even shown that presentation helps food to taste better, and therefore more pleasure, and satisfaction.


WASHING UP:


So now comes the boring bit. You have to wash up. How could this possibly be made fun?


MUSIC:

  • It still works! Make it an event, and treat yourself

MAKE IT SOCIAL:

  • I said it before and I’ll say it again, having people with you can make the experience so much more enjoyable. Share the load, for half the work.

GET THE KIDS TO DO IT:

  • This only works if you actually have kids or perhaps even an unsuspecticting victim (ahem, I mean partner!) Involving others in the process so that they can also appreciate the workload and effort that you have to put in, can really help the entire process run smoother.


LET'S BE REAL HERE


This isn’t a call to cook every single meal from scratch, every day. It is just a way that you can change your behaviour towards cooking if you would like to try it.


Building any habit takes time so start slowly. If you’re not cooking at all, then try just cooking one meal a week. How does it feel? Is it manageable? If so, then try adding more and more as you go, and remember that it doesn’t have to be a huge meal that takes hours to cook to be a success. Often times, some of the best, and most nutritious options can be prepared and cooked in under 10 minutes.


If you’d like more ideas on simple and fast recipes, then check out my recipes page here for some of my favourites that I cook regularly.


Until the next time, happy cooking!


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