Our lives are getting busier and our diaries are getting fuller. We are now contactable at all hours, information is being thrown at us on an increasing number of platforms and there never seems to be enough hours in a day. But as people are become less willing to set aside what little free time they do have to the pursuit of cooking, perhaps that is exactly what they need.
Research suggests that those who regularly eat home cooked meals tend to be happier and healthier. They consume less sugar and processed foods and as a result have higher energy levels and better mental health. Children also stand to benefit from cooking at home with a link emerging between regularly eating home-cooked food as a family and healthier, happier kids who are less likely to use alcohol, drugs or cigarettes later in life.
They may be quick, convenient and (let’s be frank) tasty but takeaways have their issues. Perhaps the most significant of these is expense. Ordering a meal for two from your local Chinese, Indian or pizzeria is unlikely to leave you much change out of £20. There are also several health concerns surrounding takeaway food, with it being generally much less nutritious than home cooked food. It is also typically higher in energy, fat and salt. This disparity is amplified further by reduced likelihood of exercising portion control when eating out or ordering in.
If you find yourself tempted by takeaways but are struggling to motivate yourself, we have put together some great tips to not only help get back to cooking but to enjoy it as well!
You are far more likely to want to cook at home if your kitchen is a nice place to be. Keep it clean, organise it in a way that works for you and (if you aren’t blessed with a dishwasher) don’t leave the washing until tomorrow, it will put you off going back in.
Home cooking doesn’t have to be complex or elaborate, leave that to the professionals. The simple things are often the quickest and most delicious. Cook what you like to eat but don’t be afraid to try something new.
You are more likely to give a recipe a whirl if you already have most, if not all, the ingredients already in. Make sure you always have stock of those ingredients you find yourself using regularly. If it is something with a long shelf life and you have the space, consider buying in bulk as you can often save quite a few quid. Find out some of our favourite cupboard staples here.
Write. A. List. Decide what you are going to make on each day in advance and write a shopping list accordingly. Remember to take stock of what you already have in to make sure you are using things up before buying more. If you stick to your plan you will find yourself not only spending less on impulse buys but also throwing less away at the end of the week.
Sometimes it isn’t the cooking that has you reaching for a takeaway menu, it’s the thought of washing up. A great way to keep clean-up to a minimum is going for a one pot recipe. Don’t think this just mean things like soups and stews. Instead think pasta, risotto or even a pilaf. Find loads of great one-pot recipes here.
Things like chilli, casseroles and curry are easy to make in batches. Cook more than you need and freeze leftovers for an other day. It is much easier to get in and just do a bit of rice than it is to start from scratch everyday.
If you can, invest in a slow cooker. You can get one large enough to feed the whole family and have left overs for around £20 (find out more here). Honestly, you will use it all the time. Just throw everything in before leaving the house and by the time you get home dinner will be ready. The internet is full of great recipes if you’re unsure about what to make. Slow cookers are also excellent for cooking joints of meat. Simply plonk a joint of beef on a bed of onions and carrots, add 750ml of water and cook on low for about 8 hours. An absolute fail-safe Sunday roast (be sure to use the cooking juices to make a top notch gravy).