ideas for an inspiring kitchen

i've written a handful of times about how we save on food & budget monthly for groceries. meal planning is absolutely key (check out my meal planning 101 blog post on how we plan meals & my homemaking tab for more resources).

regardless of how disciplined we are with our budgets or how well we plan the menu, sometimes there's a lack of inspiration in the kitchen. the clock strikes 6 pm & we're still staring at instagram avoiding dinner prep. we lack motivation so we order pizza. we blow the budget & we miss out on a meaningful dinner experience.

friends, i've got some thoughts on this topic & ideas to get you inspired in the kitchen. you can do this, i promise!

1. make your kitchen pretty. it's true. creating a welcoming environment in your kitchen that is conducive to productivity & creativity will make you want to use your space more frequently. remove ugly packaging from your dry goods & place them in pretty jars with labels. i have thrifted most of the jars in my kitchen for under $1 each. place produce that doesn't need to be refrigerated in woven baskets & metal bins that fit the aesthetic of your kitchen. it will inspire you to grab a banana instead of cookies.

2. rearrange your fridge. i just recently participated in a meal planning & budgeting group at church. a group of ladies and i rearranged our refrigerators. it has made such a huge difference in my daily food choices. instead of hiding that colorful produce, i moved it up to the second shelf. the bin where our produce used to hide is now housing leftovers my husband can easily grab for lunches. moving our produce to the top shelf has also decreased the amount of fresh food wasted, which is also a big plus. we can now clearly see what's in the fridge & we use it.

3. prep your food ahead of time. i have recently started buying big heads of greens & chopping them myself at home. it saves a significant amount of money each month because we're getting more greens for our buck. right when i get home from the grocery store, i wash & chop my lettuce. i mix in a handful of spinach with our lettuce & the occasional red cabbage. i place it all in a big plastic bowl with a lid. it's so easy to grab & throw together for dinners. the photo above is a big salad i made for lunch. i've been eating a salad at lunch everyday with every topping imaginable. delicious, healthy & easy. 

4. celebrate dinnertime. my husband taught me to celebrate, savor & enjoy dinnertime. it's such a special moment to catch up with family & talk about your days. we always eat at the table with candles & cloth napkins. last night we enjoyed dinner outside on the first warm evening of the year. make this part of your daily rhythm & you'll soon feel drawn to the kitchen knowing you'll reap the reward of quality time at the table.

& here are some recipes we have made recently to inspire your love of cooking...

- roasted asparagus: preheat the oven to 400 degrees. chop the ends of the asparagus & place on a baking sheet. drizzle olive oil & sprinkle minced garlic on top of the asparagus. add sea salt & freshly cracked pepper. place in the oven for 20 minutes until the ends are lightly browned & crispy. 

- broccoli quinoa slaw: i have made this slaw twice in two weeks. this slaw is even better the next day. pair it with fresh fish & the roasted asparagus above for a delicious meal.

how do you get inspired in the kitchen? any delicious recipes you've recently tried & loved? please share!

p.s. this is a sponsored post by grammarly! use grammarly's grammar check because good grammar is almost as important as what's for dinner! check it out if you're interested, friends. 


fullheartemptyhands said...

Really helpful! I've definitely been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. Thanks, Natalie!

Lydia Rehrman said...

I love your idea of moving produce out of the bins and onto the shelves! That is what we use the most, so why hide it in a bin?

Julia said...

great tips nat! (as always) we have been trying meal planning again. now that we have a little one eating dinners with us, we are even more inspired to make it a meaningful time for our family. also, since he needs to go to bed around 7:30 (the time when we would previously be just starting to think about dinner), we really need to be on the ball with what we are going to eat so i can walk in the door from work/picking him up and we can have dinner on the table by 6:30pm. we've been making or prepping more meals on the weekends and using our slow cooker more. i love the idea of rearranging the fridge!

Khala @ The Birdie Bowl said...

This is such a great post, Natalie! I always make sure to put our fresh produce at the front and top of our fridge! Like you said, we don't waste nearly as much (or forget about it) and it looks pretty! I completely agree that a pretty kitchen is a happy kitchen! I'm much more willing and even excited to be in my kitchen when I feel good about the space around me :) Thank you for sharing your tips with us! xo

Christine said...

This is quite a relevant post for me. Lately (you know, for the past several months) I've lost my inspiration in the kitchen. Cooking a meal has seemed like a chore. But I want to love cooking and cook healthy beautiful meals! Thanks for these tips. I'll definitely be trying them. All the best!

mallory ashlan said...

love this post! if you find that your lettuce is getting wilted too soon, try putting a few folded up paper towels on top of the lettuce and under your lid. it usually gives my spinach an extra week.

Holly said...

Fantastic post Natalie! When I got married 20 years ago I didn't like being in the kitchen so I decorated it in red and white so that I would at least enjoy looking around!

Brittainy @ Tune My Heart said...

Great post! I'm planning on getting a serious garden going this summer {more than just a few tomatoes and peppers here and there} and I would love to be able to can and display our beautiful homegrown food on open shelving instead of shut up in cabinets!

We've just caught on to moving fresh produce to front of our fridge and it definitely helps cut down on our waste.

I always feel more inclined to be working in the kitchen when it's clean and organized and it was the first room decorated when we got our house :)

LaWoodstock said...

For me, cooking is a pleasure and a good habit, I cook for me and my husband twice a day for lunch and for dinner, I try to test new recipes and new food. I couldn't plan meals, that would be boring... The only planning in our week: meat and eggs once a week and fish 2/3 times a week. I try to get inspirations from the veggies I find at the local market and use to buy always different veggies during the month. As for saving: we used to do groceries shopping every Saturday but we noticed we wasted food, so now we go shopping every two weeks and we are forced to finish all the food in the fridge and in the freezer (and that's a good way to invent new recipes!).
As for the fridge: cheese and eggs always go at the top, veggies go down, but maybe Italian fridges are , I don't know...

Anonymous said...

I meant: Italian fridges are different.
Sorry for the mistakes :)

Heidi Joe said...

I love your blog, and I really love your posts on meal planning. We are trying to meal plan and budget and it's always fun to see how other people are doing it.

I think having a pretty kitchen is a great place to start, having a fun place to make meals is important. I happen to love being in my kitchen!

I meal plan dinners only, and each week we have one or two meatless nights, one "mexican night" (Tacos/burritos/tostadas) and one breakfast for dinner night (veggie frittata, waffles with eggs, etc.) The other nights I pick a new recipe I've been wanting to try from Pinterest or other blog/cookbook, and that usually makes enough for two nights. That one new recipe a week gives us a way to try something new or in season, too. We call it keep or throw night, if it's a keeper recipe we add it to the rotation, if it's throw, we eat it or try to repurpose it!

Erin said...

I stay inspired in the kitchen by having fresh flowers on the island (even in the Winter), have a big bowl of washed fruit sitting out, a slide show of family photos running on our iMac screen and always have music playing (even if it's my toddlers tunes).

Katie @ sweet peas said...

Last summer, we started buying organic foods and eat TONS more produce now than we used to. I had to move it to the second shelf of our fridge as well, otherwise it hid in a drawer until it spoiled. It saved our budgets and looking at those pretty bunches of produce sure helps brighten my day.

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