Repetition is the death of excitement, and the kitchen is no exception. So the next time you get tired of making meals, check out these tips to get your cooking groove back.
Healthy eating starts at home. If you want to eat right, more often than not you've got to make the meals yourself. But what happens when you hit a brick wall and say to yourself, "I'm really tired of cooking?"
Cooking Light Diet community member Shelly Grubman had this exact thought recently. In a post to the CLD's Facebook group, Shelly asked how others motivated themselves when the desire to pick up the spatula had waned.
"I've been loving most of the CLD recipes, but I gotta admit. I am tired of cooking. Usually, I enjoy cooking but it seems I've hit a wall. How do you pull yourself out of the 'I don't want to cook' slump?"
Well, lucky for her that Facebook group is a veritable treasure trove of great advice. Other community members weighed in en masse, and we were able to put together some great advice to help Shelly get her kitchen groove back. Read on to hear how these folks are overcoming their cooking ennui.
Sometimes half the battle is seasonal. Who really wants to stand over a stove preparing a hot meal in August? As someone who lives in Birmingham, AL, I'm here to tell you like Johnny told June—it ain't me, babe. But just because you don't want to cook for whatever reason doesn't mean you can't still easily throw a meal together. Cooking Light Diet community member Jessica Schindelar has embraced this approach, saying she often makes the Shredded Chicken and Avocado Nacho Salad pictured above. She subs salsa for the pico/olive oil mix and boom, dinner is ready. No worries if you're not a nacho fan, as there are plenty of no-cook meals out there. With just a couple ingredients, you can piece together a delicious meal with minimal effort and no stove/oven required.
Leftovers prevent burnout.
My tombstone will read: "He loved Game of Thrones, his nieces, soccer...and leftovers." In all seriousness, if you're burnt out from too much cooking, the issue may just be the amount of time you spend doing it. Remove the pressure/stress from the equation by already having something ready to eat. For many people, if you like a meal enough to cook it in the first place, you can certainly enjoy it again another day. Andrea Haight says she plans to cook about 3 times a week, and then repurposes leftovers or mindfully dines out the remainder of the week. Member Joan Rasmussen employs the same tactic, making enough dinner for two nights and enjoying the same meal the next day. Don't hesitate to plan ahead—if you've had a long week and you know the last thing you'll want to do tomorrow is cook, set aside a serving of today's meal so that's one less thing to worry about. And don't forget you can always take some of your leftover ingredients and use them for an easily thrown together no-cook meal.
[Recipe ideas for leftover pork, leftover chicken, and leftover steak]
Double (or triple) your servings.
Dovetailing off the leftovers approach, you can also choose to double or triple a recipe's servings to avoid cooking for the next few days. By making a bigger batch, you'll be able to set food aside, reclaim time spent in the kitchen, and give yourself one less thing to stress over. Andrea Williams says this approach works wonders for her.
"I make double or triple many recipes and freeze the extra servings for those days [I don't want to cook]. It doesn't take much longer to make 8 or 12 servings than 4. I try to freeze things that last in the freezer for awhile and also only add 1 or 2 new items a week so we don't get tired of a dish. I also rotate just a few breakfast and lunches so I'm not cooking 3 meals a day every day."
It's hard to get tired of cooking when you've already made enough servings to last the week, so don't hesitate in doing just that if it's a recipe you can easily see yourself enjoying over and over.
I don't consider a trip to the grocery store successful unless I'm coming back home with a rotisserie chicken. This versatile, ready-to-go protein can be utilized in super simple recipes so you don't get frustrated with the amount of time you're spending preparing meals. Cooking Light Diet member Amanda Nieman shares this sentiment, saying that "there are a lot of recipes you can use rotisserie chicken so less cooking." Likewise, Kathy King-Long finds rotisserie chicken to be anything less than...fowl (levity also helps when you're not feeling the kitchen). She says they can "be a make or break for days I don't want to cook. I shred the whole chicken up and use it to top lettuce and make a salad." Easily put together salads aren't the only application for pre-cooked chicken, either. Recipes like Cheesy Chicken Bagel Pizzas and Spicy Chicken Quesadillas come together in a flash, helping to minimize your growing kitchen resentment.
Buy precooked, pre-chopped, and prep ahead.
A great way to prevent cooking ennui is to drastically reduce the amount of time you spend preparing and cooking meals. Cyndie Moran says the most important thing is to "make it easy for yourself...buy precooked/prechopped when available, pick easier recipes, substitute easier sides." Buying pre-prepped produce from the grocery store can sometimes cut your meal prep time in half, making it less likely you get tired of the kitchen. Marianne Kinman Donohue isn't a huge fan of cooking, so when she doesn't have time to cook she'll buy precooked bacon and chicken. Half the battle is prep, so if you buy items that are already prepared you're saving yourself a ton of time and energy. Conversely, you could buy whole prepped meals that require minimal assembly and cooking, like the many Cooking Light Diet recipes currently available through meal delivery service FreshRealm.
Knock the dust off that slow cooker.
Having a slow cooker is akin to being a Jetson and having Rosie the Robot prepare your meals. You throw a couple things in, go to work, and come home to a ready-to-eat meal. It sidesteps all the stresses related to cooking, and often makes enough servings that you can repurpose leftovers for later. Vicky Parsons Stroup takes this approach so she's not tempted to go out to eat. And there are an abundance of slow cooker recipes out there for every season, even summer. Pull that slow cooker out of your cabinet and make it work for you!
Combine some (or all) of these options to make cooking manageable.
Mix up your routine and employ several tactics a week to keep cooking to a minimum and your energy levels at a maximum. Community member Tara Swift makes it easy for herself by doing exactly that.
"Use frozen veggies, cook things in bulk ahead of time and freeze or keep ready, eat leftovers, have an occasional healthy night out!"
Don't feel the need to adhere to your same routine week in and week out—you'll start to dread your kitchen instead of enjoying it. Figure out what works for you and find a healthy balance!
These are just some of the many examples of Cooking Light Diet community members helping to foster one another's love for cooking and eating healthy. For more, join the Facebook group, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the Cooking Light Diet. Happy cooking!