6 Ways Food and Cooking Can Bring Joy to Our Lives

by Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD

Last Updated: November 16, 2020

2020 has had its challenges. And this might have included your choices when it comes to food. From panic buying to limited dining out options, to your favorite food items out of stock, it has seemed like affording, gathering, and storing food has been a hurdle all by itself. However, amid those struggles has also come a silver lining: more time at home spending our leisure time doing things we really love.

Have you ever thought of associating cooking with enjoyment? Sure, we have to eat, and sometimes you may not always be up for putting together a spread of food on a Wednesday night. But how about giving yourself the freedom to explore the possibility that making food might be a source of pleasure, rather than a necessary, hustled, activity? In fact, huddling around a warm oven as a fresh batch of blueberry muffins are baking sounds like a perfect way to spend a weekend morning as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.

Here are 6 tips to help you build more joy around cooking:
  1. Check out a new cookbook.
    If funds are tight, you aren’t ready to commit to a certain book or are watching your carbon footprint, check it out at your nearest library (which may be available with curbside pickup right now). There are tens of thousands of cookbooks accounting for a wide range of food interests, featured ingredients, and flavors.
  2. Try one new recipe a week.
    It doesn’t have to be lengthy nor use obscure ingredients. It could even just be switching an ingredient within a trusted go-to recipe: swap in mango for pineapple in your smoothie, add cucumbers to your midday sandwich, make quinoa instead of rice at dinnertime. This also could be a great opportunity for spontaneity: try out Kroger’s recipe search engine or new Kroger Chefbot service to plug in ingredients hanging out in your pantry, fridge, or freezer for some recipe inspiration.
  3. Take a picture of your food.
    It doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy unless you want it to be. (If you do, please tag us @KrogerHealthDietitians!). It should just represent the effort you put into something amazing. Capturing pictures of things in our life makes us honor that object and give it additional appreciation. Do this with food and stick to keeping the picture in your phone, share it with a friend, or print it out (or take it next level and frame it!).
  4. Make it pretty.
    Tagging onto point #3, food styling can do wonders for elevating the eating experience. Don’t just slop your food (or beverage) onto a ho-hum plate or glass, but stage it, garnish it, break out the fine china, and pretend you are eating at a three-star Michelin restaurant. You deserve it.
  5. Cook for just yourself.
    This might seem counterintuitive, but oftentimes we feel if we dedicate time to cooking, it is towards a family meal or to share with others. When we do this, we consciously or subconsciously tailor the meal to household likes and dislikes or have a certain yield of food, so enough leftovers are available. Try this time to make a recipe that screams “you.” You’ve always felt like cupcakes could use extra vanilla extract? Go for it. You’re a fan of excessive sesame seeds in that Korean dish? Sprinkle sesame seeds to your heart’s content. Are you the only one in the family who enjoys sauerkraut? Go ahead and add a hefty dose to those Reubens.
  6. Start thinking of food preparation as self-care.
    Nourishing yourself with good food respects your mind and body. It also taps into your creativity and can be a healthy way to center yourself. Maybe a nap, bath, or walk isn’t what your body needs today, but instead a mindful chunk of time to order a favorite ingredient via Kroger Delivery and make a tasty dish for yourself.

We believe in bringing more fun and simplicity to food. Make a 1:1 dietitian appointment with us at www.krogerhealth.com/telenutrition to discuss personalized recipes and meal ideas to make food easier, healthier, and more enjoyable.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD

Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD

Molly can help you simplify eating, all while building excitement around good food and freeing up time for all the things that really matter in your life. With a knack for food labeling and regulations, weight management, food intolerances, and plant-based eating, Molly is ready to help you make sense of food again. When not on the clock, Molly can be found hip-hop dancing, cuddling up with her two mischievous cats, playing trombone, or honing in on her food photography skills.