Are you tired of boring taco nights at home? Does the thought of another plate of spaghetti send a shiver down your spine?
If you’re stuck at home for an extended period of time (especially with our current situation on the coronavirus pandemic), don’t let the monotony of lackluster meals dampen your mood. Cooking at home can have great benefits for your health and wallet, but it shouldn’t be a drag on the taste buds.
If you’re going to put the effort in to cook a meal, why not make something you’ll really enjoy? Not everyone was born to love cooking, but there are some easy ways to make it more exciting.
Tips to Spice Up Cooking From Home
1. Try a New Ingredient
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life! You probably have a good mental picture of the food likes and dislikes in your home, and that can lead to a meal rotation list that is shallow and not that much different from week to week.
It’s easy to visit the same areas of the grocery store to grab your staples, but have you realized you’re missing out on a ton of potential ingredients beyond your comfortable basics? Try and incorporate some variety into your meals by introducing one new ingredient a week that hasn’t been on your usual list.
When is the last time you had pomegranate, chorizo, capers, hazelnuts, artichokes, or bison? Have you tried jackfruit, quince, okra, farro, jicama, or daikon? You can even do something as simple as picking up a new cheese to add to a salad.
Different spices can be another great way to add variety to your meals. Are you using lemongrass, coriander, fennel, or curry, for example?
By stepping outside your comfort zone of typical ingredients, it will exponentially increase your recipe possibilities. You can try a totally new dish or make a simple swap to put a twist on an old favorite. The next time you make chicken, why not try my
Explore new corners of your grocery store and bringing some hidden gems home to excite your taste buds. (Just be sure to follow proper social distancing guidelines).
2. Add Another Course or Drink Pairing
In home cooking, we so often limit ourselves to one main dish. What if you decreased the portion size of your main dish and added an appetizer or dessert? Increasing the number of courses can give you more opportunity to play around with flavors.
Adding another course doesn’t have to involve loads of additional prep time. Some simple appetizers and desserts can take merely 5 to 15 minutes of prep time. For example, you could add a cheese or fruit course, nuts and honey, or a selection of olives or pickled vegetables.
A simple bite-sized amuse-bouche can pack a powerful punch, such as with a cracker and topping or a selection of fine sliced meats. You could also try a homemade bread with dipping oil as a starter.
Custards, puddings, and fresh berries offer quick and simple options for desserts, but you can go as extravagant as you’d like and scale down your main course preparation accordingly. It’s not like you have to do this every day, but it can really be something to look forward to.
Furthermore, a drink pairing, such as a cocktail, wine, shrub, or spritzer, can offer tasty new discoveries to pair with your home cooking. You’ll have a more memorable meal any time you take a little effort to add such a pairing.
3. Follow Inspiring Food Bloggers
When you’re stuck cooking at home, you might not have time to scour the internet for hours each week for new ideas. Or you might want to try something new but not even know where to start searching.
Following a few food bloggers whose cooking style you like can be a regular source of new inspiration for you. You know I’m a food blogger myself, but I too, do follow a few food bloggers I like. I join their email list or follow them on their favorite social media platforms for scrumptious images and recipes to save.
If more technology consumption isn’t your thing, you can go old fashioned and pick up a magazine with delicious recipes every now and then. Save a clip file of your favorites, and you’ll soon have your own growing custom cookbook to turn to when your meal planning needs a little boost.
4. Get Worldly Inspiration
In addition to trying new ingredients, there’s a whole world of flavors out there to be savored. Expand your horizons while stuck at home by visiting the cuisines of faraway places.
Try to include one dish a week in your meal plan from another part of the world. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate another culture’s flavors into your home cooking with ingredients from your local grocery store.
You can try out foods from countries of your ancestors, ask friends for some favorite recipes from their heritage, or do your own research. You might even find some new family favorites–it’s culinary excitement on a whole new level.
5. Try a New Technique
Maybe you’ve got your trusty crock pot and skillet down, you’ve mastered roasting, and you’ve even branched out to pressure cooking. There are still plenty more methods to prepare food that can bolster your cooking chops and add variety to your home cooking menu.
When thinking about spicing up your home cooking, try to mix in one different cooking technique a week. How you prepare the food can have a big impact on the flavors, texture, and overall experience of the meal. Some different techniques that don’t require special equipment include: on a skewer, pickling, salt crusting, braising, and oil poaching.
Variety Is Key
As you’ve seen from theses tips, variety is they key to spicing up your home cooking. You can add variety through a number of simple ways outlined here.
You don’t need loads of extra money, special training, or fancy equipment to get started with more opportunities for variety in your home cooking. Get inspired from the world, other home cooks, and new techniques reviewed here.
Meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking at home should feel a lot more fulfilling when you are intentional about trying new ideas and broadening your home cooking repertoire.