I get asked all the time where I find the recipes that I cook. My answer is always the same. I find almost all of my recipes online or in magazines, but I almost always put my own spin on them, usually taking out anything processed and making them as natural as possible. I love food and this makes it easy for me to become inspired to cook and want to cook. But that’s not always the case. Believe it or not, even with all the recipes I share here at TheMountainKitchen.com, I sometimes lose my motivation to cook.
I have a love-hate relationship with cooking. I love to cook, but if I don’t feel like cooking, FORGET ABOUT IT! You couldn’t pay me enough to turn on my stove and cook supper, especially after a long day at work. Sometimes I loose my motivation to cook for a few days and sometimes it can be weeks at a time. Just ask David! He can tell you about those times. He’s more than willing to cook, but I usually don’t want him to, because if it were up to him we’d have fried chicken or something smothered in gravy every night. He’s a meat and potatoes kind of man…lol!
Don’t get me wrong, I love eating out, especially when I really cannot bear the thought of standing at the kitchen stove. If we don’t go out to eat and neither one of us feels like cooking, we end up ordering pizza delivery (Believe it or not, we actually get pizza and Chinese delivery on the mountain!) All that is great, but I feel horrible the next day, because what I have consumed is not all that healthy and loaded with carbs (also the same reason I don’t want David cooking).
We have all been there, but you can’t eat out every meal; it’s expensive! Cooking at home is important, because it helps you to save money! Cooking at home is and always has been cheaper than eating out. It’s a fact! Not only does cooking at home save money, but it also helps you eat healthier, because it allows you to control the ingredients that go into your food. But how do you stay motivated to cook at home and where do you get inspiration from?
Several months ago I received an email from a subscriber named Dawn. She writes:
“Hello, my biggest challenge is just to figure out what to make for dinner! I’m tired of the same ol’ stuff. So I am always looking to try something new.”
I know exactly what Dawn means about eating the same thing all the time. I have been in caught in the cycle before and it makes it hard to want to cook. Finding inspiration to cook at home is a lot easier, when you know ways to pick yourself out of the rut. I thought about what inspires me to cook and I have come up with a list of 7 ways that inspire me to cook. If you are caught in a rut or even if you don’t like to cook very much, my hope is that I can help you find some inspiration to cook more at home.
7 Ways to Become Inspired to Cook:
#1 A CLEAN ORGANIZED KITCHEN
Believe me when I say a clean organized kitchen makes you want to cook! It does. If your kitchen is a room that makes you feel irritated, then it’s time to take control over it. I cannot stand having dirty dishes in the sink or clutter all over the kitchen counter, it hurts my soul…lol! If everything is clean and organized, I am ready to cook! Cooking is relaxing and fun when you don’t have to deal with anything, but the food at hand.
Decluttering doesn’t happen in a matter of minutes. It takes time, so put some thought and energy into it. Start organizing with a clear deck and the tools you’ll use to do the job. Organize your kitchen into stations and then make sure you have everything you need for that particular station within an arm’s reach. I find that is also important to put the more useful dishes, gadgets and appliances in the front or in lower cabinets, while putting those dishes, gadgets and appliances that are not used on a daily basis on a top shelf or in the back of a cabinet to save time trying to access it.
Once you have the kitchen the way you want it, keep it that way. Don’t laugh, it can be done with just a few minutes a day. The key to keeping a clean organized kitchen is figuring out a routine and sticking to it. It’s important to clean as you go and make sure to clean the dishes immediately after using them. Try to start each recipe with a clean dishwasher, so you can get rid of most of the dishes and utensils as you go. Designate certain days for cleaning certain areas more than usual, like the stove top, oven or the inside of the fridge or microwave. Doing smaller tasks along the way can keep your kitchen clean and organized at all times, making it more enjoyable useful space.
#2 THE RECIPE SEARCH
We are so lucky to live in a day and age of food media. Recipes can be found practically anywhere these days. If there is an ingredient you have never heard of you can pull it up on the phone and learn more about it than you ever wanted to. You can watch videos on how to chop something and read in-depth articles related to cooking all just a finger’s tap away.
I use the internet to find recipes the most. I like being able to type in some ingredients I have on hand into a Google search to see what comes up. I also like reading food blogs and watching food shows on television to find recipes or learn new techniques. I sometimes glance at cookbooks, but when it comes to print, I mostly pull recipes from magazines. I’ve listed tips for searching below:
Books and Magazines: Buy a new recipe magazine, one with lots of bright beautiful pictures. I currently subscribe to FoodNetwork Magazine. I also have tons of other magazines my mother saves for me to draw inspiration from. You may feel some of those food magazines are pricey, but remember there are still libraries out there. Go check something out or flip through a cookbook you haven’t looked at in a while. Cookbooks are a great way to get inspired in the kitchen.
I keep a recipe binder full of recipes I have torn out of magazines that I want to try. I reference them a lot when trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
Cooking Shows: Food television has changed dramatically over the years. I’ve said it before, I miss days of watching someone cook. I remember long weekends when you could turn on Food Network or Cooking Channel TV and watch people cook for hours. There are only a handful of shows where you feel like you’re sitting at the kitchen counter watching someone cook. Most shows that come on are reality based or challenge shows, that come on back to back and seem to repeat NONSTOP! I don’t like those shows very much; I miss honest to goodness cooking one on one and bow down to the ones such as Ina Garten, Ree Drummond and Trisha Yearwood who still give you that one-on-one recipe share. Watch people cook, even if you would never make the recipe. Over the years, I have learned that even if you don’t like what a chef is making, you can always learn a new technique or about an ingredient you’ve never used. There’s at least one thing per thirty minute show you can learn.
Websites: There are so many recipe websites available. It’s a little overwhelming, but Pinterest and Yummly are two of my favorite recipe search tools, because of their simplicity to use. It’s a place where I like to share my recipes and draw inspiration from others. There are search criteria you can enter for more specific recipes, and ones for special dietary needs.
Social Media: Following your favorite blogger on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or your favorite social media platform, is a very simple way to stay in the loop with new recipes being shared, without signing up for pesky emails for recipes you don’t even like.
Food Blogs: Follow several food blogs that inspire you to cook. I follow several for inspiration. There are so many talented food bloggers out there, with great writing and beautiful pictures. Here are some of the many I love:
- Give Me Meatloaf
- Pinch of Yum
- One Man’s Meat
- Emerging Adult Eats
- Hostess At Heart
- Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
- Brooklyn Homemaker
- Frugal Hausfrau
- The Pioneer Woman
- I’ve Got Cake
#3 CHALLENGE YOURSELF
When I got caught in that cycle, one of the ways I started coming up with new ideas was challenging myself with going meatless once a week. When you take meat out of the equation things get a little more interesting. Different types of cuisines can make things a lot more interesting. Challenging yourself to find one new recipe from a different cuisine a week, can help you get out of the rut and make being in the kitchen more enjoyable.
How about this?… What is the oldest and most favorite recipe that you and the whole family love? Try to revisit that recipe and see if you can somehow change it to make it even better. The change can be finding ways to eliminate steps or using recreating an ingredient or two to take out any processed food. I did this to my old favorite Curry Chicken Broccoli Casserole. I took out processed ingredients. It made a HUGE difference in the way the casserole tastes. I will never use those processed ingredients again!
You could also pick an old restaurant favorite and see if you can recreate it at home. I did this with our favorite Spinach Feta Pizza. Who knows, you might actually make it better than the restaurant!
#4 PLAN YOUR WEEKLY MEALS
Although it happens more than I like, I really don’t like trying to figure out meals on the fly during a work week. This is when we usually end up going out to eat, getting take out, get food delivered, or worse we end up eating something not worth mentioning.
I do really well in the kitchen when I plan out the meals for the week on the weekend and actually leave the house to go grocery shopping. I like to spend some time in the morning going over new recipes and verifying what ingredients I already have on hand. Make a list, and shop accordingly. When I pick out the meals for the week, I plan on having leftovers for lunch the next day, if at all possible. I also try to figure out ways to use any of the leftover ingredients again or figure out how to utilized a hot grill or oven for the next meal. This all comes with practice, but it isn’t always practical based on the meals you plan.
#5 A WELL STOCKED PANTRY
Life gets in the way sometimes and there are times when you cannot plan meals. Coming up with meals on the fly is not easy, but having a well stocked pantry, makes throwing together delicious meals a lot easier. Click HERE for a fantastic suggestion list put together by FoodNetwork.com. Check it out, make your list and head to the store to get your pantry stocked!
#6 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If you don’t cook, you’ll never like to cook or be good at it and that my friend is the honest truth. The only way you can get better at cooking is to cook food daily, or as often as time allows. It’s the only way you will become a better home cook. If you love food, you can learn to fall in love with cooking it. Ease into cooking. Start with simple recipes and learn by doing. Don’t be afraid to screw something up. Lord knows I sure have! There is nothing wrong with a failed recipe, that’s the best way to learn. The outcome for any recipe is guaranteed; nor will you get the same result each time.
The more you practice the more you will begin to see some steady progress in your cooking skills. Building your confidence with your basic techniques is important and you will become more familiar with a range of ingredients. I have found new ways to introduce flavors to food or figured out different techniques for preparing foods. It’s something that comes with the joy of cooking. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and most importantly, have fun!
#7 GIVE YOURSELF DAYS OFF FROM THE KITCHEN
Don’t feel like you have to slave and cook in the kitchen every day of the week. Plan ahead for days when you may not feel like cooking. Plan leftovers to freeze or plan some quick and easy meals. Allowing yourself to take a break from the kitchen may rejuvenate your creative juices. Taking a break always helps me get my mojo back in the kitchen and His Royal Highness is always glad when I can sit down on the couch with him sooner.
Cooking, takes practice and time, but once you’ve found out how to love food and enjoy cooking, it’s a joy that won’t go away.
What inspires you too cook? I want to know. Comment below!!