Ever made the grave mistake of shopping when you’re hangry?
I have done this several times, and when I check out, my cart is usually a combination of actual food and empty wrappers. ?
Takeaway: check your mind-set before you start any endeavor, especially before you tackle a recipe.
Here are some easy tips I have honed over the years that will help turn stressful cooking into a smooth and fun process!
Preparation Is Key
Preparation is the key to success in ANY endeavor! Not only can a little preparation make the cooking process easier, but when you sit down to a meal and you are stressed, you run the risk of stress eating. Taking a little time to plan can save you a lot of time once you get started. These are the two places you need to start:
1. Study the recipe.
Don’t just skim it while creating your shopping list. Really study it.
How long will it take?
Is there anything you can prepare beforehand?
For example, if you are making guacamole, get out everything you are going to need and put it on the counter, then cut up the red onions and cilantro, and squeeze the lime juice before you begin, so you can just throw them in. (I love guacamole with fresh cilantro!)
2. Make sure you have ALL the supplies.
Utensils? Ingredients? Printed recipe? I know! I know! I’m dating myself here , but phones are such a finicky way to follow a recipe. They lock, the print is small, you get interrupted when people call or text.
P.S. – I’m obsessed with these cute cookbook holders on Amazon! You can print your recipe and put it in this holder to make cooking even easier.
Go HERE for some key Bible verses on preparation, and be encouraged!
Put Some Weekend Time Aside
My husband, Gary, and I are nothing if not busy. We pastor a church, have speaking engagements that regularly take us out of state (or out of country), and we also have five kids and seven grandbabies!
If you have a notoriously busy schedule, try to spend the time you have at home, especially on the weekends, to prep some food for those busy times.
I love cooking, but I have to be realistic when I am thinking about what to cook.
I know you might want to slave away to make Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon, but if you are planning on doing this with several little ones in the house, you have underestimated how quickly your child “needs” you when you are suddenly unavailable.
It’s the same as when you try and talk on the phone. Your child has been playing independently all morning, but once that cell is up to your ear, they will know and…
Find you. ?
Lol! All I am saying is you should ask yourself, “Do I truly have the time, money, and patience for this recipe right now?”
Choosing meals that are realistic for your life and schedule is the healthiest choice you can make!
Did Someone Say Sale?!
Don’t find your recipe then shop. Instead, find your deals then find a recipe that utilizes something you just saved a bundle on!
Two for the price of one roast days? Yes, please! Looks like a crockpot kind of day!
Most major grocery stores have made it easy to save with their own apps; you can download coupons right to your card, so you don’t have to deal with the paper anymore.
Have some random ingredients leftover in your fridge? Find out what recipes you can cook with what you already have at supercook.com.
Your Freezer Is Your Best Friend
I love, love, love my freezer. The great thing about freezers is that you can buy in bulk, saving time and money.
Think about foods that you can easily freeze and thaw when necessary. Soups and stews are easy things to make and freeze. Just double your recipe, and put the leftovers in a container.
One piece of advice…
Write the date purchased, either on the container or put a piece of tape on top and write it there. I lose track of so much when it’s in the freezer. Is it the year-old ground beef or the one I bought last week? ? That is quite a gamble.
Go HERE to check out my impromptu Facebook Live refrigerator cleanout. LOL. You are guaranteed to laugh. I sure did!
The point is that you might not remember, so it’s best to date it.
Typically, you want to throw away frozen meats after a year, and after only four months for ground beef.
Clean As You Go
Well, hello there weird, brown, sticky spot that might be from last Christmas...
Okay, full disclosure… I am not the biggest fan of cleaning, but I do have some quick tips that make cleaning a little easier.
Clean as you go because who wants to do everything after the meal? Better to do little things along the way.
- Put away ingredients as you go.
- Pick up the bits that have fallen on the floor, and mop any spills.
- Wipe down the counter and the stove.
- Soak the dishes and pots in hot water.
- Take one minute to put leftovers in the fridge when you are done.
This way, if you want to leave the mess until tomorrow, the mess is not that big and not that sticky. Don’t wait until the ants come marching in to start cleaning!
My last words of advice, don’t be too hard on yourself if a new recipe doesn’t turn out perfectly. As the saying goes, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”
Recipes are only guides, theories that need testing!
In the words of Julia Child, “Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all, have fun!”
In all you do, know that I am rooting for you!