Cooking is something I really feel like talking more about. I’ve come such a long way in the kitchen over the last 4 years that I need to take my little Instagram snippets and expand it out over here on the blog. So, here goes my cooking with confidence style series! Inspired by several conversations with friends and family, I want to prove that you can go from an uninspired out the frozen box special to cooking from scratch every night of the week and enjoying it!
When I moved into my own home 4 years ago, I had zero confidence in the kitchen, in-fact the first meal I ever cooked here was fish and chips - the fish came frozen in a box, the chips frozen in a bag, and I managed to burn the chips and undercook the fish. I have shed many a tear in the kitchen and pulled out several emergency pizzas over the years that’s for sure!
Two of the biggest things I have struggled with when it comes to cooking are meal ideas and timing. Deciding what to eat 7 nights a week, wanting to keep it healthy, interesting and different, is not easy. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had some serious sulks over not being able to figure out what to cook each week. And once I know what to cook? The timings, oh the timings! If something says it will take 20 minutes then you can guarantee I am plating it up after 20 minutes, and crying when I discover it’s raw or over cooked. Tears literally go into my food!
Cooking with Confidence - Meal Planning
So let’s start building our confidence by building a plan. A meal plan. You will find hundreds of way more useful videos over on Youtube and even more pins on Pinterest. Meal planning has not only saved me a fortune on the weekly shop, but it takes the stress out of coming up with an idea each and every night - which nobody wants to do after a day at work!
I tend to do my meal planning as I go during the week for the following week. So, if I see an interesting recipe on Pinterest, or someone gives me an idea, I’ll jot it down. I do my meal planning in the same notepad I make my weekly shopping list. In a way, I’m putting my shopping list together as I go, which makes that a less time consuming task come the weekend. As all my shopping lists/meal plans are in the same place, I can look back over previous weeks for inspiration too, any meals that were firm favourites, or something we haven’t had in a while can be inspiration for the new week.
Themed days are an easy way to get into meal planning. Think pasta on a Monday, rice on a Tuesday, fish on a Friday etc. Give yourself one set theme for each day, then get yourself onto Google or Pinterest and pop in something like easy pasta dish, vegetarian pasta dish, one pot pasta dish, you get the idea. Not only will this give you hundreds of ideas, but every pasta Monday suddenly becomes a new and exciting dish - who said meal planning makes for boring and repetitive meals?
You’ve got your plan. You’ve got your ingredients. You’ve got your recipe. It’s only really the past couple of months that I’ve started tweaking recipes, but for years, I have stuck to them like glue. And there is nothing wrong with that. We’re confidence building here. One thing I will say though is timings and temperatures will vary when it comes to following recipes closely. So try not to get too stressed out if your sauce thickens sooner than expected, or your pasta is ready but your chicken needs a few more minutes. The more you cook, the more you will learn the nuances of your own oven and with practice, things will all start to finish at roughly the same time.
If you’re not quite ready to start cooking completely from scratch, you can still get into the habit of meal planning. Creatures of habit can take comfort in old favourites 5 - 6 days a week starting off, but set aside at least one day a week where you try something new! If your most fail safe dish is fish and chips, then pop that into Pinterest and you’ll find new takes to try such as one pan baked fish and chips with crispy parmesan fries, or how does rum battered fish with coconut curry sauce sound? Or even just making a side of homemade tartar sauce? Start with what you’re already comfortable with and build from there!
On a scale of 1 - 10, how comfortable are you in the kitchen, especially when it comes to trying new recipes? Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet about what you’d like to see from this series! What would make you more confident in the kitchen?
Until next time,