Finding Joy in the Kitchen
One of my goals for 2012 was to find joy in the kitchen, and it was my loftiest goal of all. I have never looked forward to spending an hour in the kitchen creating something that can be eaten in 10 minutes.
But cooking is something we have to do almost every day, right? So why not find a way to enjoy it? (This post by Kate Connor was very enlightening to me!)
How I Found Joy in My Kitchen
- Meal planning that works for us. To me, meal planning is a dirty word. I think I am turned off by meal planning like many other people are turned off by budgeting. So I got to thinking...meal planning doesn't necessarily mean I have to cook every night. It just means that it would relieve stress from our lives if we decided ahead of time what our meals will be. So, what we've found to work best for us is to plan only three meals at home for the week (one of which is always breakfast for dinner!) and allow ourselves to eat out a couple times, too. Other than that, we eat leftovers or (healthy) things we can find around the house. I will try to do a food post on that soon if anyone thinks it would be helpful. I still can't believe how terrible we used to eat just a year and a half ago. We are not perfect, but we have made lots of steps in the right direction.
- Find 3-5 recipes to master. What frustrates me about cooking is that I always feel like a beginner or that it takes too long or there are too many ingredients. So I decided to choose a handful of recipes to get really good at. That way I have a few recipes that I have confidence with. What are your favorite foods? I love breakfast so I chose scrambled eggs. Eric now says my scrambled eggs are the best he has ever tasted! I also love Mexican food, and 2012 for me was the year of guacamole. It is my new favorite food. I am still working on learning to make it at home (tips welcome). I tried homemade pizza dough (kind of a flop). But I learned how to make a healthy oatmeal bites, amazing monster cookies and a killer strawberry lemonade for summer dinners on the deck. I started a couple Pinterest boards - one for food that looks delicious, and another for healthy foods that align with our quest for better choices. I go to these when I am lacking ideas.
- Invest in the space. A couple months ago we spent a weekend adding a backsplash and under-cabinet lighting to our kitchen. The lighting is just right, and I love setting the mood before we make dinner. I moved a few things around and chose a pretty bamboo bowl from IKEA to keep on the counter for fruit. I try to clear the clutter from the counter.Now, my kitchen is a comfortable and inviting place to be. I also purchased some new, beautiful kitchen items. I've shown a few of my favorites below. It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. Method + Orla Kiely (two brands I adore) teamed up this fall so I bought one of each of the hand soaps and also a bottle of dish soap to keep in the kitchen ($3 each). The bottles are adorable. I also got mason jars (also cheap) to use as glassware and striped paper straws and farmers' market baskets and a candy jar and a beverage dispenser. For me, making muffins is a lot more fun if I'm using a cute mixing bowl and a spoon that smiles. And don't forget the cute muffin cup liners!
Here are a few of my favorite things in my kitchen:
- Use the fancy stuff, even if you're not throwing a party. I use my favorite ceramic bowl for my nightly popcorn. I drink out of mason jars and paper straws. I serve fruit in my farmers' market baskets even when no one else is over. I've decided to celebrate the everyday with beautiful things, otherwise they would rarely get used, and I would not be nearly as happy while cooking, baking or eating.
What tips do you have for finding joy in the kitchen?