We are all busy and home cooking can suffer as a result. The social norm of women cooking dinner every evening for a family of four by 6 p.m. is no longer the majority experience in America (if it ever was).

Home cooking can change, and whether or not everyone’s noticed, it already has. Now is the perfect time for Home Cooking 201.

cookingCooking is an important part of a wellness lifestyle. The food manufacturers of the world have taught us all to lean toward convenience as home cooks. That addresses some of the busyness we all experience, but health coaches like me are Passionate with a capital “P” about helping our clients set aside highly processed convenience foods in favor of whole, real food, and made-with-quality-ingredients meals. Wellness can only be sustained by bodies that are fed nourishing food on a regular basis.

If you cook using a series of boxes, cans, and frozen entrees, can you see yourself making food by following recipes and working with wholesome, fresh ingredients? If you don’t see yourself doing this on a regular basis, perhaps your family structure includes other people who like to cook at home?

Home Cooking 201 takes into consideration a wide variety of family configurations, sizes, and schedules. For instance when you have a leisurely hour to prepare a meal from scratch, this experience is a superb opportunity to be creative and truly nourish yourself. On the other end of the spectrum, when no one in your household likes to cook, and there is only five minutes to get a meal on the table, meals at home can still be wholesome and rewarding using Home Cooking 201 principals.

Here are the Top 5 Tips for making a Home-Cooked Meal a more Pleasant Experience:

  1. Prewash your Produce. This is step one after you return home from the grocery store! Wash your fruit and vegetable supply, dry it or spin it, chop some for easy use, and store it in clear glass containers.
  2. Cook Once and Eat Twice. Think about the day of the week when cooking for one hour can happen. Make a big batch of your favorite main dish or side and store half in a freezer bag. Voila!
  3. Organize and Clean as you Go. Take the time twice a year to organize your kitchen. Sharpen your knives, scour your cutting boards, toss out that grungy plastic container. When you know where everything is, and everything you need to use works well, daily cooking is much easier! While you cook, get in the habit of cleaning up as you go. This one trick will empower those who avoid the hassle of cooking because, well, it’s just easier!
  4. Think like a Chef. Your favorite restaurant has a specialty, and your home kitchen can, too. If there are two family-favorite meals that are always a hit, take the time to make sure everyone in the household knows how to make them. The specialty of the house is something that becomes easier with repetition, so practice and refine the recipes. Using this trick, the head chef can take a break now and then, and great meals will still be served.
  5. Stock your Freezer and Pantry. You cannot eat from an empty pot, or some variation of this advice was always talked about in my Home Economics class 101. This wisdom has not changed in class 201–you have to have food in the house if you want to cook at home. When you have the basics needed for a variety of meals, on those days when cooking at home is not planned in detail, it can still happen. Grab some protein from the freezer, a little produce from the fridge, sprinkle in some salad fixings and a drizzle of quality olive oil–and there you have it! Home Cooking 201 is served.