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One Celebrity Cook’s Tips for Kitchen Rookies

Photo: Courtesy of Ayesha Curry

Food Network star Ayesha Curry spills her secrets for quick weeknight meals and advice for people who aren’t quite as into cooking.

As a mother of two, wife and an entrepreneur, how do you find the time to prepare delicious meals for the family?

It sounds cliché, but food and cooking for my family are two of my favorite things. So, no matter how busy things get, it’s never difficult for me to make time for it. I know not everyone shares that same passion, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t love to cook I have a few tips. First, meal planning is key. Cooking on a busy weeknight is much less daunting when your shopping is done and you know exactly what you’re going to make each night. For me, I know that my Homemade meal kits are going to arrive on Tuesdays, so that takes care of Tuesday and Wednesday night right there! For the rest of the meals, I typically defer to some of my go-to weeknight recipes that I know will come together quickly if I’m tired or working late. Stick with proteins that cook fast like flatiron steak or shrimp, and roast off a big pan of vegetables early in the week so you have a quick side in a pinch!

In your opinion, what are some of the largest challenges preventing Americans from spending time in the kitchen?

One of the biggest challenges keeping Americans from spending time in the kitchen is simply not having enough time in general. Families are busy, especially families with working parents, and too often meal time just becomes a box to check off the list. That’s why it’s been a mission of mine to help make home-cooked meals faster, easier and more approachable. Growing up in a busy family with two working parents, meal time was such an important ritual for us to be able to connect and spend quality time with each other. I want to make sure that tradition is not lost simply because the idea of cooking is too stressful.

New research suggests that many people want to spend more time in the kitchen preparing meals — they just lack the knowledge and tools on how to start. Any advice for a beginner?

Yes! If you’re just starting out, recipes are your best friend. Until you develop a little more kitchen confidence, stick to tried-and-true recipes from a professional. What I always suggest to beginners is when you find a recipe you want to try, read through it from start to finish to make sure there aren’t any ingredients or techniques you’re not familiar with that may trip you up. Another great tool for someone looking to get into cooking is signing up for a meal kit delivery service. I’ve had countless people write in after cooking from my meal kit that they didn’t think they could cook until they tried Homemade! With a meal kit, your box shows up with a recipe and ingredients all pre-portioned. Every recipe is condensed down to six easy steps (with photos) so you have a visual aid to keep you on track. Each meal kit offers something a little different, but for Homemade, it was very important to me that the ingredient list stay short and the meals be easy to execute so that it can really be a resource for everyone regardless of skill level in the kitchen.

What is your favorite piece of kitchen technology, and how do you use it?

I’ve recently started experimenting with an at-home sous vide machine, which I love! It’s an easy way to get perfectly cooked proteins every time and also lets you infuse all kind of other flavors.

What are some ways in which we can re-invent the kitchen as the social hub of the home?

The best way is to get the family involved in the prep. Giving people a job not only gets them more invested in the meal but keeps everyone centralized so you can spend that extra time together. I also love to keep some fresh, healthy snacks on hand to pull out and serve in the kitchen while I’m cooking or doing meal prep. In my experience, where there are snacks, family and friends will congregate.

There are a ton of meal kit and delivery services available now. How should we go about picking the one that best fits our lifestyle?

I think a great place to start is just to hone in on what you find most appealing about a meal kit and how it can simplify your weekly routine. Are you looking to expand your culinary horizons? Do you have strict dietary restrictions and need some new ideas for recipes? Homemade, for example, was created to fill a void for quick, nutritious meals that were family-friendly, with options to curate the menu for people who are vegetarian or don’t eat red meat. I’d recommend taking advantage of the discount offers to try out boxes from a few different companies until you find the right fit in terms of level of difficulty, quality of ingredients and flavor profiles.

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