Seven tips to start cooking this holiday season |

Seven tips to start cooking this holiday season

Kristine Travis

About the Author

Kristine Travis, MS, RD, is a clinical dietician at Barton Health. Make an appointment with her or another one of Barton Health’s dieticians by calling 530-543-5823. You can also find some healthy recipes on the Barton Health blog at

As the holidays get closer, life naturally gets busier and healthy habits can get thrown out the window. Holiday parties, Thanksgiving dinner, and Christmas eggnog take the place of health for a lot of us, and any nutrition goals can be a struggle.

Instead of trying to focus on weight or diet this season, why not use this time to start a healthy cooking habit? You may be busy this time of year, but there will also be several occasions where a home cooked dish is welcomed or expected. If you don’t cook at home regularly, here are some tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Figure out the real reason you don’t cook

A top reason cited for not cooking is not having time. Let’s look at this one with a common scenario: you work all day, come home and decide to cook dinner. Then you have to decide what to make, find a recipe, figure out needed ingredients, go to the grocery store and return home. Before you start cooking, you’re probably really hungry and tired so you reach for the microwaveable meal instead.

Many foods and beverages, including breads, soups, beer and cereals, contain gluten. However, the CDF notes that many foods also are naturally gluten-free. What’s more, many naturally gluten-free foods are very nutritious.

Cooking takes planning. You wouldn’t run a marathon the next day if you didn’t own running shoes. There’s a lot of steps that take place before the action can happen.

Tip #2: Make sure you have the basic tools for cooking

If your knife is dull and frustrating to cut with, you won’t be motivated to use it. Basics for most meals are: one pan, one pot, a good knife, a cutting board, a wooden or silicone large spoon, a spatula and a can opener.

Tip #3: Be patient with yourself

Cooking is a skill. Understand that your first meals will not be culinary masterpieces.

Start with finding recipes for a few simple dishes that sound good to you like an omelet or a one pot dish. Practice these for a while before moving to new, more complex recipes. Like all skills, you will get better the more you practice.

Tip #4: Start small

Start by cooking only once a week. That way, your goal is realistic and fits in your current lifestyle. You can grow from there.

Tip #5: Make cooking a social experience

If you volunteer to bring a dish for a holiday party that causes stress, invite a friend to come over and help make it. Remember, cooking should, eventually, be fun!

Tip #6: Take advantage of cooking technology

Try a delivery service that provides you with all the ingredients in proper amounts and detailed, step-by-step recipes. Or go the free techy route with websites or apps like Mealime that provide meal planning, grocery lists, and recipes catered to your food preferences.

In your search, you may find a favorite blog that inspires you with quick, simple meals.

Tip #7: Plan ahead

Cooking does involve some premeditated effort. Make a list of meals for a week and then a grocery list of the ingredients for those meals. Putting in a little thought and effort once a week gets you ready to actually cook when you are home and getting hungry.

These tips will help prepare and get you through the holiday season. Then, if you do make a New Year’s resolution around nutrition, your new cooking habit will fit right in.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

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