With the work from home world slowly transitioning to a new reality and restaurants closed to sit-down dining. Everyone is spending much of their time indoors, and we’re learning to appreciate the lost art of cooking. Turns out, all that time in our prior lives spent watching the Food Network is finally coming in handy. But that’s because food isn’t just about food; it never has been. Food is about comfort, coming together, trying new things, and exploring the world through taste. At its heart, cooking is a creative act – and a powerful (and tasty) way to keep your creative juices flowing during the lockdown.
Challenge Your Culinary Boundaries
Learning to cook is an exhilarating skill – each new dish, technique, or combination of ingredients generates a thrill. But it’s easy to fall into a culinary rut: bagel for breakfast; sandwich for lunch; pasta for dinner. If this sounds like you, set yourself a challenge to cook up something new and wonderful for every meal of the week. Savor cuisines from around the world. Jazz up your spice drawer with some fresh new flavors. Or really push your creative limits by trying 100 ways to cook an egg.
Will you mess up? Burn something? Scrape a couple of attempts into the trash? Sure. But according to the HBR, it’s all worth it. Your efforts in the kitchen will foster resilience, innovation, and resourcefulness. All of which carry over pretty nicely into the business world.
Try the Pantry Challenge
The act of cooking itself isn’t the only area that requires creativity and imagination. Being responsible citizens means staying at home and minimizing our grocery shopping trips, with the result being bare cabinets, empty fridges, and a surprising surfeit of shelf-stable goods you probably wouldn’t ordinarily eat. Here’s where the creativity comes in. Try cooking using only the ingredients already in your kitchen.
Not sure where to start? BonAppetit has you covered with its lists of 5-ingredient meals, freezer-friendly meals, big-batch meals, and more. And HuffPo has you sorted for ingredient substitutions for when you run low. Then there are jams, preserves, pickles – the possibilities are (almost) endless.
When you do finally have to embark on that next grocery trip, meal prep beforehand to see how many meals you can create from the ingredients on your shopping list.
How will these skills transfer over to your day job? Now you can rank yourself “expert” in resource planning, resource reduction, and process efficiency.
Learn to Plate, Garnish and Decorate
So much of a great meal is in the presentation. There’s a reason that our social media feeds are overflowing with beautifully plated food and exquisitely decorated cakes. If your go-to is a haphazardly tossed salad or some penne thrown on a plate, try adding a little artistry to your efforts. After all, studies show that food that looks good tastes 29% better.
Use this time in quarantine to learn to plate a dish like a Michelin chef, or try your hand at some crispy garnishes. While shopping for new dinnerware is off the agenda, for now, experiment with what’s in your cabinets to see what delivers best results for that steak – or that cocktail.
If you’re like the rest of the world, you may have ventured into the realm of quarantine sourdough starters. Once your dough is ready to go, try some bread scoring techniques for eye-catching results. Or if confections are more your thing, level up your cake and cookie decorating game. Sure, it’s finicky and time-consuming, but you’ll be focused, engaged – and happy doing it.
Cooking Is Worth it
In our regular lives, cooking is just one more chore to check off your daily agenda. But all that time and effort in the kitchen is worth it when you can. Think back on all your favorite memories, and we can bet that they involve food in some way. So kick back, pour yourself a glass of wine, and let that kitchen creativity flow. You’ll be all the happier for it – and you’ll probably end up with some new skills to add to your LinkedIn bio.