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No matter if you are in search of perfecting your cooking skills or just escaping your mundane dinner routine, there are a plethora of options at your disposal. However, attempting to choose just a few methods of doing so is no simple task — after all, there are so many techniques, recipes, and tricks one could use in the kitchen.

With that in mind, let’s narrow down the options and focus on a few key ways you can challenge yourself in the kitchen:

Cook a meal with all local ingredients

Depending on where you live and your access to fresh food options, this may feel like an insurmountable feat. However, after a quick Google search, it may be easier to track down a nearby farmer’s market or organic grocery store than you thought.

Or, conversely, you could always try your hand at growing your own fruits and vegetables in your garden if you have the time to spare.

Begin cooking meals from scratch

We tend to take premade foods — such as boxed pasta and jars of red sauce — for granted, leaving us to forget about the lengthy processes that are required to make such products. Plus, if you have — or a loved one has — any sort of food allergy or sensitivity, making a meal from scratch is the perfect method of monitoring exactly what goes into your family’s mouth and ensuring none of it is processed.

If possible, cook all dishes with wheat intact

If you are fortunate enough to be a part of a household with no gluten allergies or sensitivities, take full advantage of that by using grains extensively in the kitchen.

Dishes created with whole grains intact are much more complicated and time-consuming to make, as you must often crush the grains into flour, but the end product is worth it — especially if you are striving to push empty carbohydrates out of your diet entirely.

Eliminate processed sweeteners

With toxic ingredients such as aspartame (found in Equal, Nutrasweet, and NatraTaste Blue), sucralose (found in Splenda), and saccharin (found in Sweet ‘n’ Low) pervading our food market, cutting out processed sweeteners may feel like an insurmountable task.

However, with a little determination and plenty of research, it is simple to find the best unrefined — or even minimally refined — sugar your grocery store has to offer. Examples of unrefined sugars include raw honey, agave nectar, and sucanat — which is the pure, dried juice of sugarcane.

Evidently, there are many ways one could switch up their routine in the kitchen — and some of these methods even come with greater health benefits. So, with all of that in mind, take the plunge and begin to challenge yourself while you cook; you may find that it is easier than you thought.

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