Last week I wrote about recapturing cooking-as-leisure in our daily lives. Of course, it’s one thing to issue a call to action, and quite another to actually put it into practice. Here are some tips to start to make some inroads:
1. Designate one night per week for a special meal:
Maybe it’s Friday night dinner followed by a movie, or a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast, or a Sunday dinner that fills the house with rich aromas, but choose one meal per week where you commit to take more time to make something special and truly enjoy the experience.
2. Have a signature dish:
It doesn’t matter what it is—a pizza, a stir fry, grilled chicken, spaghetti with meatballs, etc.—find a dish you love to make and love to eat, then make it part of your menu rotation regularly. It will become “your thing.” You’ll feel confident making it, and look forward to eating it.
3. Make food social:
Whether you cook for your kids, for your parents, for family, or for friends, find time over the course of each week or month to cook for people other than yourself. You could even invite them to help! Nothing brings back the leisure in cooking and eating like making it a social experience we enjoy with people we care about.
4. Try something new:
Planning the family menu week after week can get monotonous. The same handful of easy, familiar meals tend to sneak into the rotation, and that risks the meals becoming a going through the motions, rather than something we pause in each day to appreciate. So make sure to also try new dishes to keep things exciting and potentially discover new favorites.
5. Focus on the food:
When you’re cooking—and especially when you’re eating the meal you’ve just made—focus on the food. Put away your smartphone, and your tablet, and your laptop. Resist the urge to Instagram or otherwise social media food every time you sit down to eat. Stop multitasking and be fully present in the moment of the meal and the people you’re sharing it with. Instead, take that time together around the table to make eye contact and talk about your day.
I know these five simple suggestions risk sounding trite, and they’re just baby steps in what could be a larger cultural shift in a household around cooking and eating. But they are a start, and momentum can gain from there.