Cooking fatigue or cooking inspiration? Which of these terms describe you? After all it’s December and our usual annual return to the kitchen for holiday cooking is not unique this year. We have been in the kitchen since March. According to consumer research, over 80% of us view our kitchens as our “food hub.” But for some, the novelty is waning and the big question for 2021 is “what is the future of home cooking?” So, how do we keep the “love for cooking” beyond the next few weeks? Recently, I asked several of my RDN colleagues their advice on how to inspire us to keep the “heat in the kitchen” and “not leave” during COVID and beyond.
Keeping It Real and Simple
- According to Mindy Hermann, MBA, RDN, it’s about shopping and cooking once for several meals to eat healthfully and prevent cooking fatigue. As Mindy states, “It doesn’t need to be 100% the same meal three times. But, for example, cook a pot of beans for a hearty stew + bean burritos + beans on a salad. Try to think in one-week blocks, to get a sense of how much to buy for what you want to prepare.”
- Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSA, LDN, Active Eating Advice by Leslie says “think quick prep” (with more vegetables as well). For example, try mac and cheese with puréed beans and frozen broccoli; create a flavor station with herbs/vinegars/mustard/hot sauce to jazz up and pizazz up entrees and sides, and go for contrasts; flavor, texture/temperature.” In the lyrical words of Leslie, “find the wealth on your shelf so you can stay enclosed not exposed.”
- “Plan ahead” is Sylvia Klinger’s, DBA, MS, RD, Hispanic Food Communications, top tip for building more meals at home. Sylvia states, “Talk with the family about favorites and start thinking for a couple nights to try these favorite dinners. Then go shopping (online or in person) for all the ingredients so when the day comes you are ready!”
- Barbara R. Baron, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND, The Family Meal Dietitian®, stated that her advice on shopping for fresh produce changed when COVID hit and shopping trips lessen. The goal is to rethink salad options that have longer shelf life. For example: “fruits that can be added to salads like pomegranates, grapefruits and halos and even apples (uncut) keep longer in the crisper and are high in Vitamin A and antioxidants great for supporting the immune system. Vegetables, like red beets and red cabbage (high in anthocyanins) are great to have on hand for a salad because they last up to three weeks long or more compared to seven days of spring mix that is stored in the fridge.”
Creating Fun and Adventure
Experimenting with new recipes has always been on the top of my “cooking inspiration” list but I have to admit, it’s usually more collecting than implementing. So, I’m taking Mindy’s advice: “Set aside one day of the week to make a new dish that you haven’t had before (Sunday is that day for me) and I am trying one recipe from my make-this-some-day file. If the recipe is a keeper, great. If not, toss it.” For me, I’ve kept more than I tossed, but at least I’m finally going through the stacks … along with all the cookbooks.
Finally, cooking is about sharing, especially during this time of the year. Though big family gatherings and holiday cookie baking with friends may have to be put on hold this year. Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN has some great advice: “Make cooking more fun and enjoyable by trying new healthy recipes with friends via Zoom or FaceTime. Think of it like a book club, but instead it’s a virtual recipe club.” I’m thinking there is a way to share those candy making days with friends again!
Inspired or fatigued? Regardless of the size of family or schedule, our inspiration wanes at times. However, by keeping the advice of the nutrition experts “top of mind,” we can plan ahead, make one preparation equal three meals, stock the pantry, shop for produce with longer shelf live, and share our successes, and we can keep the inspiration going through the holidays and into 2021!
For more inspiration, check out these websites:
Health & Nutrition Communication Experts
Active Eating Advice by Leslie
Hispanic Food Communications Inc.
Barbara Baron Associates
Building a healthier you, one meal at a time!®
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Yoga Teacher