How to Like Cooking Even if You Hate It

Okay, hate’s a strong word but chances are you’ve been in a cooking rut before. That moment where ANYTHING in the world sounds better than preparing a meal. Let’s get to the bottom of it together and get you sizzling a pancake with a smile on your face. You’ll find 10 simple tips below.

Identify Why You Don’t Like Cooking
  • Don’t know what to make? Oh hello Pinterest.
  • Pressed for time? Streamline the cooking process.
  • Worn down by meal prep every single day? Ask friends and family for help…or order a pizza and some breadsticks.
  • Tired of your current recipes? Find some new ones.
  • Weary after a long day at work? Prep your meals the night before or early in the morning.
  • Does it take you away from other passions? Plan quick meals so you can get back to your true loves.
  • Lacking ingredients? Shop and stock up that pantry.
  • Meals not turning out well? Ask a cooking friend to stop by and troubleshoot with you.
  • Disorganized kitchen? Organize it.
  • Too many dishes to wash at the end of the day? Wash them as you go.
  • Picky eaters? Invite them into the cooking process.

When you pinpoint what holds you back from enjoying kitchen time you can remove it or find a creative way to work around it.

How to Make Cooking More than Cooking

Chances are you spend a lot of time whipping up meals. Instead of begrudgingly washing another head of broccoli ponder ways you can transform your time in the kitchen. Could meal prep be prayer time? Is it quality time with your kids as you invite them into the process? Is it catching up on your favorite podcast or listening to an audio book?

Even though it may seem like it, you’re not just cooking. The food you prepare with your own two hands will nourish bodies, hearts, and souls around your table. It will comfort, provide, and connect. The food you have is gift to be enjoyed and cherished. When viewed this way, it’s easier to step into the kitchen.

Swap Yo Recipes

Most people go through a ‘I have no idea what to make for dinner’ phase. Invite a few friend to exchange recipes with you or write a quick post on your Facebook wall: “Help. Need new recipes. Who wants to swap with me?” It’ll be well received.

Find New Cookbooks

Your local library is a GREAT source for picture filled cookbooks. Check some books out and bring them home! Simply perusing new recipes can ignite your cooking imagination. Choose some that incorporate spices you’re not used to, or recipes from a different culture or country! They’ll give your weary meal routine a boost.

Call In the Reinforcements

If you’re tired of cooking tell your spouse or kids you need a night off every now and then. Ask them to chip in and whip up dinner. If you live alone this is the perfect time to invite friends into your home and cook with them.

The Crockpot is your new BFF

You can make more than just gooey slop in a crockpot! Plenty of books or blogs show you how to prepare quick, easy, delicious and comforting meals in your slow cooker. Perfect meals for busy days. Freezer Meals can be pretty darn quick and tasty too.

Time for Dinner With Friends

How awesome would it be if you only had to make ONE dish for dinner? That’s the benefit of sharing meals with friends. Throw some chicken on the grill and ask a few friends to bring the extras. Veggies, pasta salad, dessert, etc. “Group cooking” pulls a meal together in a snap and fosters fellowship.

Down With Menu Planning

Sticking to a rigid menu plan can wear you right out! Taco Tuesdays…spaghetti Wednesdays…sigh. Keep key ingredients on hand that you can be flexible with. Maybe it’s beef, chicken, or tofu and an abundance of veggies and grains. The beef doesn’t always need to end up as hamburgers. What about chili, sloppy-joes, stuffed shells, enchiladas, meatballs, goulash, etc.? The potatoes don’t always need to be mashed. They could be scalloped, baked, roasted, french fried and so on. Brainstorm a list of everything you could make with certain provisions and keep it handy. When you don’t know what to cook – check the list.

Make It Fast Meal Prep

Cooking at the end of the day when the kid [or spouse] is ferociously hungry and you’re worn down can be brutal. Plan ahead. If you know you’ll be having BLT’s for dinner – take 10 minutes that morning to slice the tomatoes, wash the lettuce, and cook the bacon. When dinner rolls around all that’s left is toasting the bread and assembling the sandwiches. Simple at 6:37pm. The more you can prep ahead of cooking time the better.

Interrupt the Norm

And last but not least — HAVE SOME FUN with meal time. When was the last time you made a grape animal or tiny hamburgers and miniature baked potatoes? Tweaking your usual meals infuses lighthearted whimsey to table time. Instead of regular shaped toad-in-the-hole why not make it heart-shaped? Pancakes for dinner? Absolutely. They’re not just for breakfast.

What aspect of cooking do you struggle with? Share in the comments below and we’ll brainstorm a way out together!

4 comments… add one

  • Katy May 1, 2014, 7:29 pm

    So many great suggestions here!! I always say (or used to say…) that I hate baking. I don’t understand the science of baking, I can’t improvise, and whatever treat I bake sits on my counter for days tempting me with all of the “empty calories” I think I shouldn’t consume.

    Turns out, I don’t actually love traditional baked desserts like cupcakes or cake. I really don’t like frosting, and get no pleasure (and a lot of stress) out of frosting a cake. I prefer apple pie, Alysa’s chocolate sweet-potato muffins, banana bread or a straight-up handful of chocolate chips. And dang if I can bake the heck those first 3 recipes and I love doing it!

    It’s hard to be motivated to cook something you don’t actually love, or that you know the people you’re serving (ahem, kids…) may protest to. So I say, cook what YOU love to eat and have alternatives on hand for the complainers. ; ) I know a lot of people believe kids need to eat what’s put in front of them, but personally, if the 18-month-old tries my cooking and decided it’s better used as a projectile than nutrition, I’ll just give him a hotdog or some yogurt. That way, he eats (and sleeps!) and I get to enjoy whatever it is that I made.

    Also, a quick trick I learned if anyone else is cooking for “soooooo hungry” kids at the end of a long day: if they’re pleading for food when you’re in the middle of cooking, give them food! Just make it raw veggies or apples or other fruit/veg that isn’t too messy that they like. If they’re “starving!!”, they’ll eat it. And, you don’t have to stress as much when they only eat the bread at dinner: at least they got vitamins and minerals with their snack. : )

    • Alysa May 1, 2014, 8:41 pm

      Katy! What would we do without you and your awesome perspectives and tips? “Cook what you love” is a beautiful kitchen mantra. It’s great that you’ve identified what you actually like baking and that you’ll stick to what you love. Brilliant idea. I’m a sucker for pie and muffins too.

      I’m a chocolate chip eater. I think Merritt is too. 😉

      Fruits and veggies will suffice “hungry” children…filing that tip away!

  • Kristi Lynn May 1, 2014, 8:11 pm

    Okay, so I’m pretty sure you wrote this just for me. 😉 My biggest hang-up is not having a clear plan in advance and therefore not having the ingredients on hand. I used to be very good at menu planning and know it makes a HUGE difference. After years of cooking for six, I knew what my family loved and could whip out a two week menu and grocery list very quickly. That all went to pot when two of us became gluten free and my tried and true menus just don’t work anymore. I just haven’t taken the time to get excited about new gluten free options that I can successfully create and my family will love. I need to invest the time and energy because deep down I do love to provide yummy food and family time around the table.

    You have SO MANY great ideas to make cooking less of a chore and more of a joy. I love the thought that it’s not “just cooking.” I may have to write that down and hang in somewhere in the kitchen for when I’m feeling uninspired. I am also pretty geeked about the idea of listening to podcasts or books while I cook. WHAT?!?! Why didn’t I think of that? Brilliant! Thank you!

    • Alysa May 1, 2014, 8:28 pm

      I did! I did! Your question gave me SO much inspiration for writing this post Kristi — so thank YOU!

      See – I can’t imagine cooking for SIX people continually. You’re a trooper, beyond all trooper, and quite frankly maybe you deserve a night off every now and then.

      For gluten free recipes I LOVE Shauna James Ahern’s cookbook: Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. I think our library has it or can get it for you from GR. If there are any favorite recipes you have that you need to convert to GF I’d love to help you. You can usually find great deals on gluten free items in bulk on Amazon too.

      Podcasts…woot woot. Do you have any favorites? I love listing to messages from Riverview church in Lansing or Water’s Edge church in Marquette. You could listen to artsy books! :)

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