I’m sure this won’t be your first time hearing that cooking as many meals at home as possible is in your best interest for weight loss and healthy lifestyle purposes.
Benefits of Eating In
-Save money because buying ingredients that you cook yourself is cheaper than having someone do that for you (plus you don’t have to tip).
-Eat a lot fewer calories since you know exactly what is in your food (restaurants often use a ton more oil and butter than is necessary).
-Less tempted by an extensive menu of options.
-Eat a healthy diet (likely less fat, sugar, and salt) overall which will give you more energy throughout the day (which leads to all sorts of other stuff like increased productivity and better mood).
-Spend quality time with your family and friends, since memories of cooking meals together will be longer-lasting + more personal than just another trip to a restaurant.
What If You Can’t Cook?
All those are great reasons to consider dining in, right?
So what to do if you’ve found yourself in adulthood but can’t make your way around the kitchen super well?
I don’t know when you’re supposed to learn how to cook. I remember using the Toaster Oven as a kid. I remember making desserts in Home Ec.. I remember microwaving basically everything in college. But I don’t remember a time where I ever really learned and this isn’t uncommon. (See also: how does anyone know how to do taxes). If not for some conveniently-placed bouts of unemployment during which I wanted my (now) husband to know I wasn’t just twiddling my thumbs at home, I’m not sure I would have ever learned.
The good news is you don’t need to be a gourmet chef or have any formal training to get by. The following are my personal tips for feeding yourself without really knowing how to cook or caring to learn beyond the basics:
First, check out this article: The Non-Cooker’s Guide to Kitchen Essentials.
Easy Ways to Cook Stuff
In a Crockpot: take ingredients, dump ingredients in Crockpot (some chopping may be required), turn it on, leave it alone. This Salsa Chicken recipe is a good place to start.
Steaming: take a big pot, add a little bit of water, set a burner on high, add veggies, cover. This will steam them.
Sauteing: take a big pan, spray it with a little non-stick spray (or oil), add ground meat (you can do this with veggies, too), add seasonings, stir basically continuously until meat is broken up & fully cooked.
Roasting: preheat oven to 400, take a baking tray, cover with tin foil so you don’t have to wash it afterward, spray it with non-stick spray, add chopped veggies (if you don’t leave a little space between pieces, they’ll steam instead of roast. That’s no big deal, just letting you know. If they roast, they’ll be a little drier & crispier), stick in the oven for 20-40 minutes (just keep checking), take out & cool when they’ve reached desired level of done-ness (I prefer my veggies on the mushier side but you might like a little crunch.
Microwaving: whether or not this qualifies as “cooking” could be up for debate, I suppose, but I count it. Steamfresh bags of frozen veggies are a life-saver in a pinch. Just take the bag out of the freezer, put it in the microwave with the correct side up (it’s labeled), press the buttons to make it go for 5 mins & you’ve got yourself a side dish.
Now You Can Cook!
If you can do even 1 of these 5 methods, technically you can cook.
Pick the one that sounds the easiest for you and give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do even just with one simple cooking method.
If you want to get extra fancy, try adding different aromatics (garlic, etc) or spice blends (shout out to Mrs. Dash) to make simple ingredients taste like gourmet meals.
Is anyone going to think that you were trained at the Culinary Institute or Le Cordon Bleu? Probably not, but it might depend how much parsley you use to garnish – pro tip.
Now that you know the basics of how to cook, how about the basics of what to cook to ensure you’re eating balanced meals? Download the Ultimate Guide to Healthy Eating Made Simple!