For a lot of people, cooking at home more presents a series of obstacles, including the “hassle” bits–shopping, preparation and, ugh…clean up. Here are some tips to help lessen these a bit:

  1. Plan– take a few minutes to study the recipe, think about what you need to do and in what order. Maybe write down the steps you are going to take, in an order that makes sense. Many recipes do some of this for you, but you know how you work and what makes sense for you. Make sure you have all of your needed bowls, measuring cups/spoons, cutting boards, etc. set out as much as you can. Space can be a big issue, but that makes the planning even more important. Most importantly, take time to think about the things that might trip you up-e.g. cooking things on high heat, cooking things that you need to pay attention to (grilling fish or browning chicken, making a sauce or even cooking scrambled eggs for example). Plan it so you can give these things your undivided attention rather than trying to multi-task too much. Unless you are trying something pretty complex, most dishes can be broken down into individual, manageable steps.
  2. Prep– Measure and set aside non-perishable ingredients (dry items, spices, etc.) first. Chop and set aside vegetables, etc. next. Deal with dairy and meat products last. Take it slow and go step-by-step. If the recipe calls for something to be browned or pre-cooked in any way and the set aside, go ahead and do that. The idea is to have everything ready to go so all you have to do is follow the directions to put it all together.
  3. Pause (and clean)- It can make a huge difference if you stop every once in a while and make sure you are following your plan  Also, if you use something and you know you are done with it-a container, pot, utensil-whatever, take a few seconds and clean it then. We all have a little extra time right now, or so it seems. Take advantage.
  4. Pop 🙂 – You are working hard here. A glass of wine or a cold beer can certainly make the process even more enjoyable. Not suggestion you down a bunch of shots while handling sharp knives and cooking over open flames, but enjoy yourself. Cooking should be fun.