Registered nutritionist at Healthspan, Rob Hobson, shares his top five tips to help you find your food mojo and get back in the kitchen to start cooking again.
Can you believe a whole year has passed since the first lockdown? The pandemic has influenced the way many of us choose to eat and not always in a good way, as the nation appears to have gained up to 6lb in body weight according to findings from the COVID Symptom Study app.
Insight from the marketing intelligence agency Mintel, found that we’ve become more accustomed to snacking while also making the most of tinned and other store cupboard foods. Many people turned to plant-based eating according to the Vegan Society and there was an increased interest in cooking from scratch, batch cooking, using up leftovers and exploring new foods according to the market research agency YouGov. According to the Soil Association more people also started to grow their own veg and bake their own bread.
As the nation rallied together there was a lot of motivation to find ways to cook on a budget and health became a priority for many people, which involved eating to improve areas such as immunity and mental health. However, as we come to the end of this latest lockdown period, I think it’s fair to say that many of us have become bored senseless of the endless meal prep, especially those catering for the whole family who demand three meals a day and a fridge full of snacks.
If you’ve found yourself cooking the same old dishes every week, relying more on ready-made meals or reaching for the Deliveroo app because you can’t be bothered to cook, then it’s definitely time to try and get your food mojo back again. If you’ve always loved cooking but have lost your motivation, then try these five tips below to help reignite your passion.
It may not be the cooking per se but mealtimes that have become a little boring and repetitive especially if you’ve found yourself preparing the same type of dishes on a regular basis. There’s a huge social element to food, and it’s a way to unite family and friends so why not make an occasion of certain mealtimes during the week. Get the whole household involved whether that means your family, housemates or partner by deciding upon a theme. Try exploring a new type of cuisine or cooking something that conjures up happy memories of holidays or special occasions together. You could make an evening of it by watching a movie, reminiscing over your favourite music or playing games.
Get stuck into a good cookery show on TV for a little inspiration. I recently watched Rick Stein’s India and have since ordered the cookbook and got all my other cookbooks out try and start cooking more Indian food. There’s also plenty of inspiration to be had on social media platforms or YouTube where you can find cook along sessions with famous chefs. Maybe set yourself a goal to learn how to cook in a certain style or cuisine – one of things I have enjoyed about my exploration of Indian food is learning more about spices both from a flavour and health perspective.
Budget permitting these subscription services such as Hello Fresh or Mindful Chef deliver the ingredients to create really tasty recipes. You may just want to do it a couple of times a week to relieve yourself of having to think about what to cook. Going back to the idea of making an occasion of mealtimes, you can also get recipe boxes delivered from top restaurants and if you live in London then there’s no shortage of options although they’re likely to be a one-off given the price tag!
If you’re the one cooking all the time, then it can feel like a bit of a thankless task after a while. Try getting other household members involved in preparing the food or take it in turns to cook. It can be much more enjoyable when you cook with other people. If you live on your own, then connect with your mates over Facetime or Zoom while you’re cooking. I know it sounds a little weird, but I have had some really fun nights while cooking with mates this way, especially when it involves a few glasses of wine.
Try to give yourself a reason to cook by setting a health goal. Whether it’s losing weight or eating for a certain health condition such as lowering cholesterol, menopause or tackling fatigue. Setting yourself a goal and planning your meals around this can reignite a passion for food. If not a health goal, then you may want to explore an alternative way of eating such as going vegetarian or vegan.
Even those of us with a real passion for food have felt the effect lockdown has had on our desire to cook. Try and create a new meaning and purpose to mealtimes using some of the tips above to help reignite your passion for cooking.