No knife skills? No problem.
You may not be ready for your Top Chef audition, but you still deserve better than the dollar menu. Those of us who aren’t quite “chefs” still have to make dinner, so we spoke to Rebecca Lewis, dietitian and in-house nutritionist for HelloFresh, to get a few strategies to keep meals healthy, and most important, simple.
1. Get your basic tools first
Skip the Vitamix until you know you’re going to use it. First, stock your kitchen with tools you’ll use every day, like sharp knives, a meat thermometer, a can opener and measuring cups.
2. Always keep whole grains on hand
Grains like brown or wild rice, whole-wheat couscous and oatmeal are the bases for tons of different recipes — and all you have to know to cook them is how to boil water.
3. Save any dish with simple spices
Stock your kitchen with salt, pepper, olive oil, lemons, limes, onion and garlic. You already know how to use these, and they’ll make even the most basic dishes more fun.
4. Make a grocery list around planned meals
“Cooking starts at the point you decide ‘What do I want to eat this week?'” says Lewis. Making those decisions before you enter the supermarket is a great way to avoid a breakdown in Aisle 5. I like WTF Should I Make for Dinner and Crepes of Wrath for recipe ideas.
5. Fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables are not only part of a balanced diet, most of them are perfectly delicious raw, making them the perfect treat for the cooking-averse. Even when it comes to cooking veggies, simply sauté with some olive oil in a pan and you’re done.
6. Set a take-out limit
Worried you’re spending too much money (and calories) on delivery? Tell yourself you’ll only order in, say, one night each week. You’ll have one meal to check off your grocery list as you inch toward creating a cooking habit (plus, everyone needs a splurge night).
7. Get a slow cooker already
There’s a reason there are a million articles about slow cooker recipes. They do all the work for you and you can make a week’s worth of food in one sitting. Trust us!
8. Cook in bulk
Don’t have the energy to cook dinner every night? Make extra-large meals (see above) or at least double your dinner recipe so you’ll have lunch for the next day.
9. Bring your sense of adventure
“The most important thing for me is to have a really positive, can-do attitude,” says Lewis. “If you look at cooking like a chore, you’re not going to enjoy it or do it again. Have fun in the kitchen! If you burn something, you’ve learned something.”