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How to Start Cooking For Yourself

5 Habits I Formed to Become a Better Home Cook

I'm a huge fan of food, but I've never really been a huge fan of cooking. When I first moved to New York, I made excuses to not cook by blaming it on my shared kitchen situation. When I moved into my own apartment, I then blamed it on my kitchen being too small. I'm really great at coming up with excuses and just ordering delivery. But turning 30 and wanting to be a healthy adult has helped put me in the right frame of mind to take control of what I do in the kitchen and really buckle down and become a better home cook. It was a process though, and this is how I got there.

Make the kitchen accessible

To get myself going in the kitchen, I assessed what I have from top to bottom. I set everything out on the floor and took a look at my equipment and really thought about what I wanted to keep and where I wanted to put it. Anything I didn't feel like I'd use (sorry, rice cooker) was donated so as to not take up space, and anything I felt I'd use often (you win, Crock-Pot) was put in a place where I could easily reach for it.

Set aside the same time each week for grocery shopping

I don't enjoy grocery shopping. At all. I refuse to go to the grocery store, mostly because it's not all that easy in New York City and I'm picky about where I shop, so I have everything delivered. I try to set aside the same block of time each Sunday afternoon to plan out some food for the week and order it all from wherever. It's not to say I don't grab something here or there during the week, but I save the bulk of it for the same specific time so I have a routine.

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Keep the fridge and cupboards well stocked

If I keep plenty of food on hand, it's harder for me to let myself order out. Part of it is because I have the food, but it's more about the fact that I've already spent the money on the food in my cupboards and not wanting to spend more money on more food I don't actually need. That means I always, always have the same handful of foods around: eggs, flour, rice, chicken broth, and frozen vegetables.

Be realistic with myself

Because I know I don't absolutely love cooking, I make sure to not overwhelm myself. I don't tell myself I'm going to make huge, elaborate meals, because I know it'll just psyche me out and I'll end up doing absolutely nothing. I plan on easy things that I can bang out quickly, no matter what time I get home from work, that are satisfying and also at least somewhat healthy.

Set the mood

Tia Mowry once said that if you're not a fan of cooking, the way to get yourself in the kitchen is to put on Beyoncé and pour a glass of wine, and I couldn't agree more. When I'm headed to the kitchen to cook, I put on my One Direction playlist on my phone to really get my brain into a happy space. It makes the whole experience better.

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