Cooking from scratch is one of my favorite ways to incorporate DIY into my daily life.
I love knowing that I’m feeding my family nourishing food and saving money on healthy groceries. I also enjoy the challenge of recreating unhealthy favorites and finding ways to save time in the kitchen.
Because it is a challenge.
With so many pre-prepared options available to us, cooking from scratch means a whole new way of shopping and, possibly, the need to learn how to cook all over again. But it can be done. And it can be done in a way that’s simple and even enjoyable.
Here are some helpful tips.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to recommend menu planning. (Here are some tips if you feel overwhelmed with menu planning. You can also purchase a Real Food Meal Plan that’s already done for you here!) Whether you do it for a month, week or day in advance, it is so handy to know what’s for dinner when you’re starving and the only option that sounds good is take out.
I’ve found myself in that situation too many times and have been saved by looking at my menu plan and knowing that I only have a little work to do to make a tasty meal.
Prep Ahead of Time
The menu plan is only so helpful if you don’t prepare in advance. Does meat need to be pulled out of the freezer to thaw? Do beans or grains need to soak overnight? This kind of prep work takes only a few minutes the day/night before and will save lots of time when it comes time to cook.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could even cook breakfast the night before, like hash browns or pancakes and just heat them up in the morning.
You could also cook double the food. It usually requires just a little extra prep time, if say, you have more potatoes to peel or something like that. But this way, you save so much time and frustration by simply doubling a recipe and sticking half of it in the freezer for later.
Do this with casseroles, soups, pizzas, burritos, enchiladas, etc. Really, if you’ve seen it in the freezer section at the store, you can probably do it at home (with healthy ingredients, of course).
Pick a Few Simple Recipes
I have a secret…I don’t use many recipes. Yes, I cook from scratch every day, but it’s mostly different variations of the same food.
One week, we might have a roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots and the next it’ll be grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes and a salad. This focaccia bread is awesome with soup one week and the next week the recipe can be used for homemade pizza.
It’s anything but complicated, but it’s so delicious.
Cook Your Favorites
This is the best tip if you have picky eaters. One hesitation I hear about cooking from scratch is that the kids/husband/wife won’t like all this new, weird food. So…don’t make weird food. Make food you like.
If your family loves macaroni and cheese, learn how to make it with healthy ingredients. Same with pizza. Or chicken nuggets. And even dessert.
There’s a huge misconception that healthy, homemade food has to be less than satisfying. And it’s simply not true.
Cooking from scratch can be easy, fun and oh, so delicious. Just give it a go.
What are your favorite foods to make from scratch? What intimidates you most?