Every family has that one person who’s in charge of the cooking. Like you — and me. Instead of looking forward to new recipes, we start to feel uninspired and bored with the idea of cooking yet again.
So let’s bring the joy and spark back, via some “mindful cooking.”
What is Mindful Cooking?
You may think that “mindful” cooking involves some special meditative mantra. It doesn’t. It’s still cooking! The difference lies in your awareness and state of mind. That means no thinking about things like:
- “Oh, what does Johnny need for school again? His exams are coming up.”
- “I hate my boss. I should have made a smarter comeback…”
- [That memory of a frustrating event from 5 years ago …]
Mindful cooking is about being fully present throughout the entire process. From grocery shopping to dicing up carrots, and finally laying the warm dish on the table, you’ll be surprised how shifting your state of mind while cooking can be a small but life-changing habit.
Start with Ingredients
You’ve been buying the same ingredients for three weeks straight, simply because the dishes are easy to make, and thank God your family doesn’t complain.
But you’re definitely tired of it.
So venture into different sections of the grocery store to explore a myriad of exciting ingredients you haven’t even started on yet. Red radish, turmeric, broccoli leaves, kombu …
Do a little research to learn more about these new ingredients. What are their health benefits? What current things in your kitchen go well with them?
Gaining new knowledge about your food creates a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation. Note down a couple of new ingredients and change things up for the week!
Mindful Meal Prep
Whenever you catch yourself dragging yourself into the kitchen, ask yourself: “Why are you preparing what you’re preparing?”
- Is it to practice healthier eating?
- Have you been feeling less energetic? Is your body telling you that it’s deprived of well-prepared meals?
- For the well-being of your family? What else?
Gently remind yourself of these intentions as you bring out the ingredients onto the counter.
When chopping vegetables, your mind will likely wander to what your manager said to you two days ago. Halt any negative train of thought and focus on the fresh food in your hand. Allow yourself to practice some curiosity: move your thumb across the rough potato skin, the smooth surface of the bell peppers, the bark-like texture of cinnamon sticks.
Take a moment to reflect on where these ingredients came from; how they were grown, how they absorbed all the nutrients from nature, and then became what you’re now holding in your hand.
Then, cut, chop, or dice each ingredient properly, carefully, and meaningfully.
Cooking: A Sensory Experience
When you turn on the stove and heat the pan, appreciate the effort you’ve put into preparing your ingredients. Look forward to the wholesome goodness that your body will be receiving through this one meal.
As you sauté and stir the food in your pot, study the smell and sounds of the process instead of just going through the motions.
Tune into your senses. Listen and observe how things like spices crackle and pop in your pan. Observe how the potatoes gently sizzle to form perfect, slightly burned edges.
If you’re attempting a new recipe, don’t bind yourself to rigid instructions (unless it’s baking, in which case, rules are key. I once neglected a single step and ended up with something that gave me a migraine).
Trust your instincts and let your senses feel what is the “just-right” moment for the next step.
Ultimately, Enjoy Your Meal
Food plays a huge role in our daily lives. Indeed, it’s essential to our very existence.
Put in a conscious effort to practice “mindfulness” while cooking. It helps to slow us down and nurtures a sense of gratitude for the food we have before us – something we often take for granted.
When you eat, try to chew more slowly. If possible, put down your fork and spoon in between mouthfuls. Savor the taste of the different flavors combining together.
You’ve put time, thought, and positive intentions into your food. Now, it’s time to enjoy the meal. Bon appetit!