Have you ever been in a cooking rut? One month you’re totally on top of your grocery shopping, meal planning, meal-preppin’ game. You’ve got a solid roster of meals that you and maybe your partner or family are enjoying. Suddenly, a new week rolls around and you can’t be bothered. The kids are being picky or your partner decides they’re happy to just microwave frozen dinners. Maybe you’re an empty-nester and cooking isn’t as fun when you’re not feeding your family. Standing in the kitchen staring inside the fridge stresses you out. Take-out sounds good…but it’s not cheap. What do you do?
I’ve been there, and it’s totally normal to feel uninspired or less than motivated – even when it comes to things that you generally enjoy doing. Like many of you, I like cooking at home. It’s rewarding to enjoy the food I prepared myself, I’m nourishing my body, and it’s much cheaper than eating out or ordering in. That being said, sometimes I’m just not feeling it. So I’ve come up with a list of things to help us get re-inspired to cook when our motivation is lacking. I encourage you to give them a try and let me know what you think. In no time, you’ll be back in there cooking up a storm!
1.Take the Pressure Off
For a lot of us, pressure is like, the ultimate inspiration-killer. It can be a buzzkill. We can’t let our creative juices flow to their ultimate flowing potential when we feel forced – and this doesn’t just apply in the kitchen. For instance, when I have deadlines on deadlines (whether I’ve set them myself or someone else) I start to feel more and more uninspired the more I feel the pressure to get it all done.
So, if you’re putting pressure on yourself to cook so many nights per week from scratch, it’s no surprise that eventually you lose some of your energy to do so. Why don’t you take a break?. Give yourself permission to take a couple days off. You may even miss cooking after a night or two!
Another way to do this is if you’re feeling pressure to cook elaborate meals on the daily, just pump the brakes a little. If you still prefer to cook at home for whatever reason, you can prepare your own food, just remove the expectation that meals need to be beautiful and exciting and bursting with flavour at all times. Take a break from that. Make a snack plate but up the portion size. Have breakfast for dinner! Eat a sandwich. Meals don’t all need to be glamorous and instagram-worthy to be nourishing or satisfying. If this is a belief that you hold, challenge that and try taking that pressure off for one day, one week, or however long it takes.
2. Clean Your Kitchen
Just like tidying up your workspace can help you feel more productive, creative and inspired at your job, cleaning up your kitchen can help you gain back your cooking mojo. Whether it’s organizing your cupboards, decluttering the countertops, cleaning the fridge or all of the above, it can help. Not only will this lend you more space in your kitchen to actually cook, it may also allow you to feel little more calm when you’re standing in the kitchen at supper time trying to decide what to cook.
Finally, cleaning your kitchen can also be a great way to gain some inspiration because when you’re rooting through your cupboards or fridge trying to get organized, you may come across ingredients like spices or condiments that you forgot you had. Maybe you’ll find a package of pasta in the cupboard you’ve forgotten about or some frozen meat or fish in the freezer you bought a while back. Decluttering and organizing the kitchen is a wonderful way to remind yourself what you’ve already got ready to use!
3. Pinterest that Sh*t
If you’re not already on Pinterest, I encourage you to create an account like, yesterday. Pinterest is the ultimate hub for inspiration. I kid you not, when I sat down to write this post I wasn’t exactly in the mood. So I opened up Pinterest and typed “blog writing inspiration”. Immediately there were hundreds of tips to inspire me to sit down and write at my fingertips.
Well, on Pinterest the same goes for food. If you’re lacking motivation to cook, a Pinterest search for new recipes can help. Maybe it’s just you and your partner at home and you’re tired of having a weeks worth of leftovers because most cookbook recipes serve 6 people. If that’s the case (or something similar) you can always specify what you’re looking for by searching “dinner meals for two”. Maybe you’re struggling to find meals your kids will love too, you could search “healthy meals for kids” or “meals for picky eaters”. Or maybe you have a food allergy – try searching “gluten-free dinner recipes” or “nut-free recipes”. The options are endless and I guarantee you’ll find something worth trying!
Another thing you can do if you’re searching the web for meal inspiration is make a list of a few new meals you find that you want to try. Figure out which ingredients you already have and which ones you’ll need to purchase. Then on the weekend (or whenever you grocery shop) pick up the ingredients for a couple of these recipes. That way, when supper time rolls around ou’ll already have the ingredients for the fun new recipe you’ve saved on Pinterest.
4. Simplify Your Meals
Again, I want to reiterate that not all meals need to be slaved over for any amount of time to be tasty and nourishing. There are a few ways you can simplify your meals to continue feeding yourself at home while in a cooking rut.
The first way you can simplify things (and save yourself time) is by prepping ingredients ahead of time. This is the kind of “meal prep” that I enjoy doing on Sunday afternoons. When I return home from the grocery store, I try to wash my produce and chop what will need chopping before using (think broccoli, carrots, pineapple, etc) and store them in containers in the fridge. This way, when you go to cook something during the week some of the “prep” work is already done. If you’re going to be eating rice or quinoa as a side you could always cook those ahead of time and reheat when needed as well.
Another way to simplify things is to just use simple cooking methods, and only use one or two per meal. So rather than grilling fish, roasting veggies, and boiling potatoes, could you bake it all together and make a one-tray meal? Or could your proteins and veggies together in one frying pan and then just add some rice? Think about it, you’ll be doing everything at once and will have wayyyy less to clean when you’re done! Think simple, friends.
By simplifying things in the kitchen, you’ll find the cooking process less tiring and time-consuming, which can bring back the enjoyment you once found in preparing your meals and help you feel inspired again.
5. Challenge Yourself
My final tip for you to get re-inspired in the kitchen is to turn the cooking process into a fun little challenge. I know there are some competitive types out there who love a challenge, so this one’s for you.
This is is something I love doing to experiment and try new things if I’m in a little bit of a cooking rut. So, if you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen, I challenge you to choose an ingredient – whether it’s a spice, a grain you’ve never cooked with, a new veggie, protein source, whatever you want – and cook with it! If you need some guidance, head to Google or Pinterest and get a recipe or just an idea of the best ways to cook with this new ingredient of yours and have fun testing it out!
If you end up liking the dish (and the ingredient) boom! You’ve got yourself something new to work with from here on out. You could try to do this once a month or once a week or whenever you just need a little boost in the kitchen. It will not only inspire you to get cooking again, it’ll expand your knowledge and skills in the kitchen – bonus!
So there you have it. I hope that at least one of these tips was helpful for you if you’ve ever felt lost, uninspired or bored in the kitchen. If you yourself have any little strategies you use to get inspired to cook, leave me a comment because I’d love to hear them!
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