How to Not Hate Cooking
There are a lot of benefits to cooking the majority of our meals at home. We have so much more control of where our foods come from, exactly which ingredients go in our meals, and how they’re prepared. It can also be much healthier for our wallets too. But despite this information, why is it so common to find yourself standing in the kitchen with a blank stare, exhausted after a full day of work, wondering what in the world are you supposed to cook, and how much better life would be if you had your own private chef?
Or is that just me?
If you told me years ago I’d be writing about how to go from dreading being in the kitchen to actually enjoying cooking, I would’ve told you you were crazy. But here we are. I went from pretty much hating cooking at home, making the same 3 things over and over again, and resulting to take out about 70% of the week (and not feeling great as a result), to cooking all but 1-2 meals at home, finding a variety of delicious recipes make, and actually finding the process fun and relaxing.
Trust me when I say, if I can make that kind of transformation, I believe you can too.
You just have to shift a few things for that to happen:
1. It’s all about your mindset.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from basically everything I’ve ever said, it would be this: MINDSET. IS. EVERYTHING.
If you tell yourself you hate to cook, you will in fact always hate to cook. If you complain and gripe and look for all the negatives about cooking your own meal, you will 100% find all the negative aspects of it. It really is 80% of the battle.
Instead, start thinking about the aspects of cooking you enjoy. And if you can’t find any, make a list of a few things that would make the process more enjoyable (maybe some nice new kitchen appliance or tool). Try visualizing yourself in the kitchen feeling calm, inspired, and relaxed as you prepare a delicious and healthy meal.
And if all else fails, determine your why. Why do you want to cook more? Will it help you feel better? Or maybe it’ll allow you to save for a down payment on a home. What will doing that add to your life? Really dig deep and figure out why this is important and then focus on that.
2. Plan ahead.
This helps with a couple of things, one being decision fatigue. By the end of a long day most of us are exhausted and the idea of making another decision. And when that decision requires creativity it can feel insurmountable. Planning your meals ahead of time not only makes it easier for you to succeed at the end of the day, but it also frees up some mental creativity as well.
I’m not one of those people who preps entire meals at the beginning of the week, but I do like to know what we’ll eat during the week, and do things like wash, chop, and season. That way when it comes time to make dinner (especially on days I don’t finish work until after 6pm) the majority of the grunt work is done and all I have to do is season and toss in the oven or on the skillet. Easy peasy.
3. Cook once, eat twice.
As simple as it sounds. Double your portions so you can have leftovers the next day. I love doing this with foods like roasted vegetables and quinoa because they’re fairly versatile and can be used and flavored differently, so even though I’m technically eating the same thing, my taste buds aren’t getting bored. Plus, just because you’re cooking more doesn’t need to mean your spending much time in the kitchen every day. Maybe try to cook 3-4 nights a week, but double the portions so it frees up a few nights as well.
4. Sign up for a cooking class.
There’s no better way to get inspired in the kitchen than by being around people who are passionate about food. Their energy and knowledge is infectious. One surprising thing I noticed is that I actually didn’t hate cooking, I just hate not knowing how to cook. So the more I’ve learned the more interested in it I’ve become. Also, my meals are tasting better and that always helps the motivation!
I know Sur La Table offers cooking classes as do many Whole Foods. And look for local chefs and farms. Eric and I recently too a cooking class at Bloomsbury Farm with Hannah Messinger and it was a blast! If you’re in Nashville check her out ASAP!
If your’e not, search for options in your area and take your partner or a friend along with you!
5. Turn it into an experience.
Light a candle, turn on a fun playlist, or pretend you’re have your own cooking show. I don’t care what you do, but make it a fun experience. I love taking a few deep breaths before we cook, slowing my pace a bit, and practice being present. Pay attention to how garlic smells as it cooks, notice the change in the color of the vegetables as they start to roast, hear the sizzle of the pan when you pour the oil in, feel how slimy the chicken is when you cut it (kidding, I hate that so much), and obviously taste test as you go along. When you’re fully engaged you’ll likely experience the feeling of flow and that’s when you find yourself enjoying it!
6. Use it as quality time with someone.
Ask your partner, a friend, your kid to pitch in and make it a quality time event. It’s amazing the connection we can develop with others through doing an activity together, learning from each other, and talking about your day. It’s a perfect time to be completely present and off your phone (unless you’re looking at a recipe), and that alone can make it a really enjoyable experience with someone you’re close too.
Eric and I have really enjoyed treating this time to catch up and have quality conversations at the end of the day.
Some helpful resources I’ve found when looking for recipes are food blogs like these:
What’s your favorite food blog, cookbook, or cooking show! I’d love to know!