My barriers to cooking & 9 ways I manage them

IMG_1214Even if cooking is something that you enjoy, having to do it everyday can seem like a chore.

Can you relate to this?

I can.

For me, cooking will seem like a pain when I’m feeling mentally tired ~ this usually happens on a Thursday or Friday, especially after a super busy work week where I haven’t had time to rest and recharge my batteries. It also happens when I’m bored with tasting my own food, and need some variety!

I discovered that being aware of my barriers to cooking ~ feeling mentally tired and getting bored with my food ~ was the first step towards working how to manage them.

So here’s what I do:

1. Shop once a week

I hate food waste, so if there’s food in the house, especially towards end of the week, it will force me to cook it. I’ve been in the habit of shopping for food at least once a week ~ with my trusty shopping list {I keep a running list in my phone so I never run out of my standard cooking staples}. Besides, there’s no incentive for me to cook when I don’t have decent food in the house.

2. Skip peeling vegetables

Peeling can feel like such a mental burden when you’re tired. I very rarely peel vegetables these days ~ especially since I buy organic and spray-free ones. A good wash and scrub is usually enough {and sometimes not even that if there’s no dirt and I will be cooking the vegetables anyway}. I’ll peel things with thick fibrous skins, though {like the stem of a broccoli}. Oh, and I don’t worry about how evenly I chop vegetables either.

3. Cook what I know

I have a handful of trusty dishes {like dhal}, which I make when I’m feeling mentally tired. I’ve made them so often that it doesn’t require any mental energy. To make sure I don’t get bored with them, I may change up the vegetables, spices/herbs, or substitute with other the other ingredients that I already have {see next two points}.

4. Don’t worry about missing ingredients

I cook with what I have in my kitchen so I don’t have to duck out to the shops to buy something specific ~ that’s a huge barrier to cooking! I just use other ingredients to substitute.

5. Think about nutrients & flavour

This is the complete meal concept I’ve talked about briefly before. It helps me to decide what to cook {not knowing is just another barrier to cooking}. To pull a meal together, I think about what protein, carbs and vegetables I have on hand ~ and what flavours can I use to make it tasty. {I talk about this quite thoroughly in my upcoming ebook.}

6. Pre-prep food

I can’t tell you how much time and mental energy this has saved me. Most weeks I’m conscious of prepping some ingredients to stock my fridge and freezer. Right now I have some roasted sweet potato, quinoa and a homemade mushroom & sunflower seed pate. What can I do with this? I can make a quinoa salad using the sweet potato, some crunchy salad vegetables, olives and top it with a dollop of the pate. See? {You can read more about prepping here.}

7. Get inspiration & experiment

This one has to do with me getting bored with the flavours I use in my cooking. So I try to look for ideas when I do eat out ~ whether it’s at one of my favourite cafés or restaurants, flicking through my cookbooks, or eating at a friend’s house. I also get plenty of ideas through my social media community. Having this blog also forces me {in a nice way!} to experiment with different foods and flavours.

8. Have a tidy kitchen

If my kitchen is messy with a sink full of dirty dishes, it makes me want to run the other way! So between hubby and me, the dishes will get washed. And I place all the items back in the pantry and fridge as I finish using them ~ so there’s no messy kitchen to contend with after eating {and when I cook next time round}.

9. Put some tunes on while I cook

When I play my favourite music, cooking is a lot more fun. It becomes therapeutic rather than a hassle in those moments of tiredness ~ since cooking is, after all, mostly a matter of mindset.

11 thoughts on “My barriers to cooking & 9 ways I manage them

  1. Corrie says:

    The only way I overcome a tired mind is to not have to think about what I am going to cook, ie. MEAL PLAN! If I don’t meal plan, just thinking about what to cook tires me out. I sit down once a week, plan all my meals, write the shopping list to correspond and then shop once a week. I always leave 1 or 2 meals unplanned so I can use up leftovers and not waste anything that is in my fridge. This forces me to become creative too and try new things, usually on the weekend when I am feeling fresh and renewed.

  2. Karen says:

    I’m always aware that planning might be the best way, but I haven’t got there yet! I got fed up with buying and eating the same things all the time but I found a local veg box scheme that arrives mid week and as the contents are always a surprise and often different to the things I’d normally buy, it encourages me to try new things and eat the veg while it’s still fresh and delicious.

  3. Lyn Preston says:

    Hi Lesh,
    Wonderful blog (again) and thought I would share my biggest barrier to cooking.
    Cooking for family or friends who don’t embrace healthy meals, like tasty quinoa etc or cooking for someone that I am not very fond of. That’s my biggest struggle. Fortunately I love to cook and are mostly surrounded by people I really love.
    Regards,
    Lyn

    • Lesh says:

      Thanks Lyn! Yes, that must be tough. I usually try to understand the flavours they like and flavour healthy foods with them. For example my husband loves chilli and spice foods, so I either have some kind of hot condiment or add chilli to the dish if it suits. Hope this helps x

  4. Halina says:

    Hi Lesh!

    My biggest barrier is that I become overwhelmed with choice and so end up I making the same old things – especially when I’m tired and burned out. Occasionally I will have a surge of inspiration and get creative but it doesn’t happen as much as I would like.

  5. Susan says:

    One of my big barriers is deciding what to cook. I think it was easier when I was cooking just for myself, because my husband has different tastes than I do – although I must say he’s been really good about eating all the new things I try. I solve that problem in part by planning my meals on a weekly basis. Another part of that barrier is that I get tired of some flavors, so I need to take a break from them. I am also not the most creative person in the kitchen, so I like having recipes to give me some structure. Another barrier I have to deal with is the lack of energy that comes from being depressed, and unable to move beyond it. I feel fortunate that there are so many wonderful food blogs that give me inspiration to try new things. I also am okay with switching out ingredients or adding things to make the meals what I need them to be nutritionally an calorically. Another good thing is that I long ago got over peeling vegetables. As usual, your post made me do some thinking, and I’m hoping that will help me to overcome my barriers.

    • Lesh says:

      Hello Susan, thanks again for commenting and sharing your experience. To me it sounds like you’re doing really well ~ planning meals, reading blogs for inspiration etc, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe you need to acknowledge that you are doing your best. Hugs, Lesh x

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