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5 Ideas for Cooking More Often

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Here are five easy ways to get you cooking in your kitchen more often. Whether you're pressed for time because of your 9-5 or you're earning to break out of your take-out rut, these ideas will help cultivate the 'cook' in you.

Learn a New Technique. I'm not talking about taking an expensive cooking class and learning a new fancy technique -- I'm simply telling you to think outside the box and whip up your own banana stuffed whole-grain French toast or whisk together a homemade vinaigrette from balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh parsley, chives and sea salt. Why not learn how to make your own yogurt or take a break from your morning omelet and try a baked egg frittata? Get creative with your everyday meals and snacks try whipping them up into a more mouth-watering dish. Start by jotting down some of your favorite foods on a piece of paper -- then make a bubble chart and branch off ideas of what you can create using similar ingredients but with a new spin on flavor such as tossing your chocolate chip recipe and instead making a cherry oatmeal chocolate chip pie!

Cook Once, Eat Twice. Make a batch of rice, quinoa, oats or pasta on Sunday nights so you can store it in the fridge to use throughout the week. Try using rice and quinoa as a morning porridge in lieu of your oats. You can use pasta for your afternoon salads and evening side dishes and the oats will be perfect in your smoothies, mixed with Greek yogurt for a dessert parfait or simply enjoyed alone with ground cinnamon and stevia. You can grill, bake or steam veggies, as well to have on hand for sandwiches, salads and omelets -- or you can pair them with olive oil and avocado for a side dish with fish, tofu or chicken.

Share Cooking Duties. Try making a schedule of who cooks when in your household and see if you can alternate nights for cooking. If your schedules are too hectic, try having one person cook a large batch of ingredients on Saturday and another person cooking separate ingredients on Sunday -- this way you're left with a nice supply of healthy ingredients for the week ahead to pair together in meals and snacks.

Try the Crock-Pot. Yes, it reminds me of 1980 and still gives me nightmares but come on- they're not so bad. Slow cookers are great and they do most of the cooking for you. Simply place your ingredients into the pot, turn on and return home from work to a heavenly aroma of a healthy, hearty stew.

Stock Your Pantry with Healthy, Versatile Options. You can easily pull together a nutritious snack or meal from a well-stocked pantry. Skip the extra trip to your food store each week by making a list of what you need to have on hand each month -- be sure to stock spices, oils, nuts, seeds, whole grain breads, quinoa, whole grain pasta, rice, oats, homemade bread crumbs and other necessities at all times. You don't want the clock to strike 6 p.m. when you and the kids are starving and they're begging for pizza delivery because there's no food in the pantry. You can easily avoid this situation by ensuring your pantry is 100 percent stocked by keeping a list on the pantry door of what items you run out of -- so when you are at the food store you can simply glance at your list and remember to stock up on the items you're falling short on.

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