Three Quick Tips for Simple Cooking

How to minimize organize recipesWhen it comes to cooking meals for my family, I like to keep it simple. Last week I wrote about why I gave up trying to cook to impress. Instead, I focus on making simple, healthy, home-cooked food. The food I am cooking in this busy season of life isn’t always gourmet and gorgeous (i.e. sometimes it kind of looks like mush…) but it’s exactly enough.

Here are my three favorite tips for simple cooking.

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1. The Only Cookbook I Kept

Last year I purged all my barely-used cookbooks. However, I did keep one book. This book, One Pot, completely changed my kitchen routine. It’s full of inventive ways to cook all your food in, you guessed it: ONE POT. That means fewer dishes and less complicated cooking–but it doesn’t mean you have to eat slow-cooker mush every night either.

But, I’ll be honest, we do eat a lot of mush these days. That’s partly by design as I have a young toddler who doesn’t have all her teeth yet. I find that one-pot meals are very easy to serve to babies and young toddlers as they tend to be on the “mushier” side.

I now strive to cook with as few pots and pans as possible, most of the time we stick to one-pot. Dishes are a cinch. 

2. My Top 3 Kitchen Tools

My favorite three kitchen tools all aid in one-pot cooking. They are, in no particular order: a 6 Quart Instant Pot, a ridiculously huge dutch oven (one that will last a lifetime/one that’s more affordable) , and an extra large baking sheet. We have large appetites in our family and we like leftovers. Therefore, we need these large cooking devices as I almost always double or triple recipes.

Many have people have asked about my favorite ways to use the Instant Pot. I routinely steam a whole pot of fresh, seasonal vegetables with a steamer insert that I added after-market. I pull them out and drizzle them with avocado oil, salt, pepper, and some other array of spices. I also use the Instant Pot to cook any type of slow-cooker recipes. This means lots of soups and stews (i.e. more mush…).

3. How I Pick a Recipe

When I am looking for a recipe for my family, I first glance past the ingredients and look to the instructions. Is it more than one paragraph? If so, I usually skip it. Longer instructions usually mean more involved cooking and food prep–neither of which I have the time for during a typical evening with young children.

When the recipes are easier, they require less time but also less concentration on my part. This means I am able to better include my children into the cooking process. They love to be at the counter in their learning towers–and easy recipes make it possible for me to make my children into “helpers” rather than “hassles” in the kitchen.

What are you favorite tips for simple cooking?

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.