Eating & Drinking

Nutritional Independence and Easy Things to Cook at Home

stew in a slow cooker

Independent aging involves taking responsibility for the things that affect your physical and mental health. That includes working out, maintaining an active social life, running errands, and eating balanced meals every day.

stew in a slow cooker

While friends and family are a great resource for meals, especially if you don’t like to cook, it’s important to be able to cook for yourself when your friends aren’t available or your family goes out of town. And though you can absolutely eat healthy meals in restaurants, eating out is far more expensive than eating at home. Knowing how to cook for yourself could be really important on a week when money is a bit tight.

Cooking can be really intimidating! In this article, I’ll be giving you four important tips to make your cooking experiences as stress free as they can be.

Cook for Just Yourself First

If it’s been a while since you’ve made a certain recipe (or since you’ve cooked at all), start by just cooking for yourself. Removing the stress of providing a meal for someone else can make cooking way more enjoyable.

The knowledge that only you will have to eat what you make can put you in a really good headspace for cooking. You’re more likely to enjoy yourself, tasting as you go to get everything just the way you want it. You’re also more likely to take your time, which is super important when you don’t cook often.

Add on to a Recipe You Already Know

Even if you don’t cook much, you probably have some basic recipes/techniques stored away. You can add onto those recipes to make a full meal.

Know how to make a box of instant mashed potatoes? Cook some ground beef and your favorite vegetables, smother the potatoes, top with sour cream, and you have a 15 minute dinner with protein, carbs, and veggies!

Have an easy mac and cheese recipe? Shred some leftover roasted chicken, roast some broccoli, and stir it all together for a full meal.

These are just a couple quick and easy dinner ideas to get your creativity flowing. Adding on to easy dinner recipes you already know is a great way to start cooking more often.

Use a Slow Cooker

Slow cooker meals are incredibly easy. You add everything to one pot in the afternoon, let it all cook on low heat, and everything is ready by dinner time. Plus you only have one pot to clean up!

You can make everything from sweet potatoes and pork chops to easy chicken dinners to soup to desserts in a slow cooker. The downside is that you have to prepare in advance for a slow cooker meal since they can usually need multiple hours of time in the cooker.

Utilize Canned Beans

Canned beans are affordable and delicious, and with just a couple ingredients, they can be turned into a fantastic meal. Some of my absolute favorite weeknight dinners involve making a super flavorful stew out of chickpeas and serving it with crusty bread or basmati rice.

You can also use beans for simple curries like channa masala or for pastas. A can of beans can become an amazing gluten free dinner in just 20 minutes.

chickpea curry with rice and flatbread

Final Thoughts

Even though it can be scary at first, building up your experience in the kitchen will make you a better cook and reduce the stress of cooking in the future. The more you cook for yourself, the easier it will get and the better your food will be!