Here at Weight Loss Habits, we are all about practicality.
Because we're all busy, right? Our efforts to live a healthier lifestyle have to compete with so many other facets of our lives, like work and relationships.
That's why I recommend we tackle things one small step at a time.
The best way to increase our confidence in the kitchen is to try new recipes. As we experiment with different foods, flavour combinations and cooking techniques, we commit new things to memory and increase our repertoire of things we can make, using instinct. This builds confidence.
But we can have access to all of the recipes and meal plans in the world, and they aren't any good to us if we don't try them.
How often do we see a new recipe and think "ooh that looks nice, I'd like to try that", and then we click out of it and never give it another thought.
In the 'old days' when we used actual recipe books, we could put the book on the kitchen bench to remind ourselves to buy the ingredients and do the preparation. Nowadays we are finding recipes online instead, but fall into the trap of looking-but-not-doing.
So here are some simple steps to get you to actually try some new recipes and increase your confidence in the kitchen.
Step 1 - Commit to trying one new recipe per week
We eat 21+ meals per week so making at least one of them new and exciting should be achievable for most people. Pick a set day (maybe on the weekend?) and get the whole family involved (great way to teach kids to get excited about home-cooking).
Step 2 - When you find a recipe you like, print it straight away
I hate following recipes on my phone because I have to keep putting my PIN in every time I want to bring the screen back to life. Phones also have a lot of germs on them so it's not that hygienic. So I tend to find my recipes online and print them off, so that I can put it on the bench to inspire me to move onto the next step. It doesn't matter if you don't intend to make the recipe yet, just print it anyway and put it where you'll see it. Baby steps!
Step 3 - Write a shopping list and buy the ingredients
Write a list of the ingredients you will need to make the recipe, so that next time you are in the shops, you have it there ready to go.
Step 4 - You're ready!
Now all that is left to do is make the food and eat it!
It seems really simple, right? What I really wanted to highlight here is that the tasks we keep putting in the too-hard-basket become a lot easier when we break them down into tiny baby steps. When we try to look at the whole A-Z journey it can seem really overwhelming, and we let the Negative Committee inside our head say things like "I don't have time to try new recipes" or "I'm just not any good at cooking".
None of that is true, they are just excuses. And whether we like it or not, home cooking is an essential part of any weight loss journey.
A few more tips:
Learn to trust your instincts
There are no rules with food so don't be afraid to experiment with substitutions and modifications. It'll either work or it won't, but either way, you will learn from it. Take a flexible approach to following recipes and meal plans. Be a flexitarian!
Watch YouTube videos
If you are lacking basic skills in the kitchen, like knife skills or using particular equipment, there are oodles of free videos available on the internet to develop your skills.
Practice, practice, practice...
Once you've tried a recipe and really liked how it turned out, make it again and again! You will eventually become so comfortable with it that you won't need the recipe any more, and this builds your repertoire, experience and confidence.
Put effort into presentation
Food isn't just about taste. Enjoying the complete sensory experience in terms of taste, texture, smell and sight, helps you learn to love and appreciate cooking nutritious food (if you didn't already). Getting some fancy plates and impressing your family with some MasterChef styling will serve as an inspiration and confidence builder.
Don't expect perfection
It's all about progress, not perfection. And it's also about having fun!
Remember, getting excited about cooking and making it fun sets a fantastic example for our kids to follow. If they can grow up learning to develop skills and confidence in the kitchen, they will be set up for a healthy, happy life.