I recently had a few conversations with friends and coworkers that all talked about how they are tired of cooking. I, myself, joined in or even started the discussion of feeling burned out. More time at home over the past year has evolved into more meals being prepared at home, but the enthusiasm and creativity have run their course. How can we get energized for planning and making meals again without sacrificing a healthy lifestyle? My friends and colleagues brainstormed together to create a spark that many of us need.
- “I’m tired of cooking the same meals. I have my recipe binder full of recipes, my go-to cookbook, and a ton of pins on Pinterest, but I’ve grown tired of them all.” Ask friends and family to send you ten of their favorite recipes; they may appreciate you doing the same for them. Use a new meal planning app or recipe database that offers thousands of recipes and designate a day to search and save.
- “Putting together an entire meal is exhausting and time-consuming.” Try creating just one part of the meal and buy pre-packaged or pre-cooked for the rest. For instance, buy rotisserie chicken for the main entrée, but make a side dish of homemade coleslaw using nonfat plain Greek yogurt or using less mayonnaise. Stock up on unsweetened applesauce, canned fruits and vegetables, and frozen veggies to have on hand to round out the meal.
- “I no longer have as much time to dedicate to meal preparation.” One-pan meals, such as casseroles, soups or sheet pan meals, include protein, starch, and vegetables all in one dish. To save time, buy pre-cut vegetables and pre-cooked grains, or cut vegetables ahead of time. Cook and freeze meat so it’s ready in a pinch. Use a slow cooker or air fryer to put meals on the table faster.
- “Meal planning has turned into a chore and I often procrastinate.” Maybe you just need to get organized. Many different apps can help you create shopping lists, plan out your meals each day, and search and organize thousands of recipes, including ones you can search by what ingredients are in your pantry. Just getting organized can spark enthusiasm and motivation.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut or lose inspiration, but sometimes just a few simple changes can get you back on track to making meals at home a more enjoyable process.
This blog post first appeared in the Pantagraph on May 5, 2021.