Feeling like you’re stuck in a kitchen creativity rut? Experiencing a stubborn case of baker's block? Even the most enthusiastic home cooks need a new source of inspiration from time to time, which is why we’ve compiled our best tips for falling in love with cooking all over again.
1. Prepare a familiar ingredient in a new way
Switching up your preferred method of preparing food is an easy way to try out new flavours and textures while using ingredients you already know and love. This can be as simple as trying out new cooking methods (grilling instead of steaming, for example) or it can be an adventurous new marinade for weeknight chicken breasts. If you have an appliance with multiple functions, such as an Instant Pot®, try using it to cook the same ingredient in different ways.
2. Reorganize your fridge and pantry
Sometimes the best inspiration comes from a newly organized working space in the kitchen. Sort through your dishes and appliances first, donating any still-working items to charity shops. As you reorganize the pantry, throw out spices older than a year, expired leaveners (yeast, baking soda and baking powder), and any stale prepacked foods. Decant spices and dried goods into clear jars and use organizational fridge inserts for cold items. Donate canned goods and shelf-stable items to the food bank, first making sure they aren’t expired or in poor condition.
3. Try a virtual cookalong
Virtual cookalongs typically involve cooking tutorials or classes, the option to participate over social media and even prizes for the best results. To find cookalongs in your area of interest, check to see if your favourite celebrity chef, food blogger or cookbook author hosts these events. Cookalongs are also ideal for learning how to prepare recipes you’ve never made before as they generally feature step-by-step instructions in addition to troubleshooting tips from fellow participants.
4. Challenge yourself to make one new recipe a week
Instead of putting pressure on yourself to totally revamp your meal plan, start things slow by challenging yourself to cook one new recipe a week. This could be as simple as a different smoothie for breakfast or as ambitious as an entire meal at the end of the day. If you share the responsibility of cooking with others in your household, encourage them to try this tactic as well and you’ll find yourself trying new meals throughout the entire week.
5. Forget the meal, make a snack plate
When you keep a stockpile of healthy snacks handy you can have a meal in front of you in under five minutes. Choose a combination of any of the following (or any other snacks you love) for your personalized plate of munchies: rye or rice crackers, tortilla chips, pita, whole grain bread, tuna, hummus, cheese, olives, cured meat, fruit, cut-up veggies, pickles, chutney, and salsa.
6. Try out a new cookbook or cooking magazine
Whether you take inspiration from a cookbook you haven’t opened in a while or from the latest issue of a cooking magazine, leisurely flipping through either choice is sure to motivate any home cook. When you find a recipe you like, take a photo of it and add any notes you think might be helpful (or keep a physical copy in a recipe book.) Check out your local library for copies of magazine back issues, as well as cookbooks on every subject you can imagine.