Let’s be honest here – cooking can be stressful, occasionally ending in tears. Whether you’re tired, starving, running short on time, didn’t have the chance to go to the grocery store, or just generally destroyed whatever you were making, dinner dealbreakers are everywhere. It’s so easy to resort to digging through the freezer for Bagel Bites or rummaging through your local takeout menus. And if we’re being totally honest with ourselves we know the convenience route is not the best route, especially when it comes to health and happiness.
Seriously… How many times have you scarfed down a box of frozen enchiladas and felt guilty about it afterwards? Or even worse, experienced a crappy-food hangover? (Yes, it’s a thing – complete with lethargy, headache, and/or heartburn.) Trust me, I know all about being too stressed to cook – but in the end these convenience solutions do not serve us as much as a real meal will.
The first thing to realize is that you’re not alone. Eating quickly, easily, healthily, and DELICIOUSLY is a point of contention for a huge number of Americans. In fact, I’ve had many readers over the years say they wish for mealtime “support groups,” since it’s something we all struggle with. That’s actually not a bad idea. It’s an idea I’ve been chewing on for a while now.
3 Ways to De-Stress Dinner.
There are countless ways to de-stress the kitchen situation. In fact that’s the whole the reason I created Fearless Fresh, so I could make the whole cooking process as easy and joyful as possible for you! It’s more than just home cooked meals – it’s about enjoying the thing you make, from beginning to end. Learning to cook in a way that’s not stressful is a huge factor in eating well, because cooking stops being something you want to avoid. When you enjoy the process, getting healthier get about a billion times easier.
When it comes to cooking without the drama, here are a few suggestions I’ve personally found useful, while juggling a growing business, family obligations, social life, and all the other stuff life likes to throw at me.
- Cook ahead. I know I won’t have the time or energy to prepare dinner during the week, especially when I have no idea what to cook for dinner, so I set aside a few hours on the weekend to cook for Monday through Friday. By investing just a few hours on Sunday, I’m pretty much off the hook every night after work. It’s a godsend to come home and know that dinner is taken care of, especially when it’s delicious and healthy, while still requiring only a few minutes to heat it up. If I am feeling particularly motivated, sometimes I’ll try to cook for several weeks and fill up my freezer with goodies.
- Grocery shopping online isn’t just for rich folks anymore. Services like Instacart and Google Express now deliver groceries for a reasonable fee (in fact, they’ll usually give you your first couple of deliveries for free). They host convenient shopping list features that make browsing a breeze. Options vary from area to area, and a quick Google search for “local grocery delivery” will reveal an option near you.
- Meal plans. This is not a soccer-mom thing. A simple plan of what you’re going to eat every night helps you, A) make sure you have all the ingredients in the house, and B) prevents that frantic 6:30pm dance/flail around the kitchen as you open and close cupboards and drawers, trying to figure out what to make for dinner. It takes no time at all to think up and write down what you want to eat a few days ahead of time, but this one step alone can save a lot of stress during the week.
- Are you bored with cooking (and eating)? Check out these simple tips for livening up your dishes.
Takeaways and To-Do’s:
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just learning how to cook, the next time you’re thinking about what to make for dinner, pick one of the above ideas and try it for just one week. Prepare a few meals ahead of time, have your groceries delivered, or spend 20 minutes drawing up a simple menu for the following five days. Just dip a toe in and see how it feels. If you notice a positive change, run with it. These three tactics combined have saved me so many hours during the week, which translates into noticeably decreased feeling of overwhelm. Serious win.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.