7 Tips to Combat Kitchen Burnout
(Pandemic) burnout is real and for some, it has hit hard in the kitchen. After months of stuck-at-home meal planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning, even the mere thought of cooking another meal may make your mind feel scrambled. If you’re jonesing for more restaurant meals, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your kitchen game strong.
Here are a few ideas to reignite meal-time inspiration:
- Have a (flexible) meal plan. Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time means you’ll avoid mealtime anxiety. It also helps you to stay on track with your health goals. Use the Healthy Eating Plate template to create a rough sketch meals you’ll cook for the week. Then create a list and shop for those ingredients plus essential staples, vegetables, and ready-to-toss salads that can pair with any meal.
- Keep it simple. There’s no need to create elaborate meals during the week, especially when you’ve had a long day. Utilize cooking hacks that save time like sheet pan dinners, one-pot recipes, no-cook recipes, or slow cooker/insta pot recipes. Pro tip: make double the amount for dinner to have planned overs!
- Explore new flavors. Is there a food you’ve always loved but can’t get in your hometown or cuisine you want to explore? Try making a meal from a new cuisine. You can purchase a cookbook, subscribe to a cooking magazine, or try a recipe from a cooking blog.
- Build confidence. Don’t let your lack of cooking skills prevent you from discovering the amazing world of homemade meals! Sign up for a cooking class that covers cooking fundamentals and knife skills, follow a basic cookbook that includes step-by-step photos, watch online cooking videos, or ask a friend who loves to cook to show you the ropes.
- Enlist help. If you’re the one preparing most (or all) the meals for your family, it’s time to rally the troops. Younger children can participate by setting the table, tossing a salad, or cleaning up after dinner. Older children or adults can help with prepping and cutting produce, keeping watch of items on the stovetop, or keeping countertops free of dirty dishes — or share the love by enlisting others in the house to take control of a few meals a week.
- Find a way to gather. If you’re not ready to gather together physically, gather virtually. Schedule a special gathering with a group of your family or friends and host a virtual cook-off. Choose one recipe you will all make together and turn the cameras on! Share your creation and then eat it together for a memorable occasion or weekly event.
- Be grateful. Appreciate the farmers who grow your food and the truckers who bring it to your store. Give thanks that you are healthy enough to cook, that your body can use the food to energize and nourish you, and treasure the time with your loved ones who you can sit down with for a meal.
Last but not least, take a break if you need it. Sometimes a brief time away from the task can help to revitalize you so you can return refreshed to the kitchen.