For some people, cooking is a stress-buster. Spending time cooking for their family or baking some goodies helps them unwind. But, if you are someone like me who cooks because you have to and not because you love to, it is a chore just like any other mundane activity.

After spending the whole day working and evenings taking care of my children and helping them with their homework, I simply lack the energy to enter the kitchen and cook a scrumptious meal for the family. Taking out every day is not an option. God bless the soul who invented the dishwasher! And fortunately, my husband takes care of cleaning the kitchen. Else, I think I would have given up and run away by now!

So, though I am not overly fond of cooking as a chore, I do so, for the sake of our health. But I know I shouldn’t be sacrificing my mental health too. So, over time, after a lot of trial and error, I have come up with a few methods to reduce cooking fatigue.

Involve The Family

Sometimes, it isn’t cooking, but cooking alone that exhausts you. As Melinda Gates told in her interview in 2019, it can be frustrating when you have to spend time in the kitchen alone when everyone else is doing their last-minute things.

Having an open kitchen sure helps. But sometimes, you have to ask everyone to actively participate in the chores so that the partnership feels equal. The fact remains that even now, the woman of the family spends a lot more time doing unpaid household work compared to men. Involving your partner and kids not only eases your burden but also sets a good example for the next generation.

Meal Plan For The Week

Do you know what is worse than cooking? Deciding what to cook!

Decision fatigue is real. Almost every day, I used to tear my hair out wondering what to cook for the day. I have to make a decision considering the availability of ingredients and cook something that satisfies everyone’s tastebuds. Not an easy task when you have two young kids. Honestly, I am also a picky eater. So, I don’t like to repeat the same meals often.

Meal planning made a world of difference. Every Saturday, I and my husband started planning the meals for the week. This way, we work around our evening calls and schedule to cook a light dinner when the evenings are hectic and plan something nice together when both are free.

Another huge positive was that food wastage was reduced drastically. Earlier, I used to buy vegetables randomly without a precise plan. And some of them would just wilt away without being used. Now, I buy only those vegetables we need for the week. So, wastage is way less.

Incorporate A Lot of Salads

Salads are filling and easy.  Incorporating salad into every meal not only makes it healthy but also makes it interesting. Sometimes, when the dishes are bland or leftovers from the previous day, a salad with an appetizing sauce can really spice things up.

Buy Precut Vegetables

Precut vegetables are not as healthy as whole ones. But they are sure a lot better than eating out. Rather than having to be perfect in all aspects, I started cutting myself some slack. We started using precut vegetables to reduce the time spent on prep work. Of course, having a good food processor also helps a great deal in reducing the time spent in the kitchen.

But, I use precut vegetables only for dishes that are cooked thoroughly at a high temperature and never for salads. And also, we use it within a day or two of purchasing. This helps minimize the possibility of any food infection. 

Plan Take Outs

Take-outs in excess isn’t healthy. But it can be a life-saver after an exhausting day. So, whenever our schedules are overflowing, we plan take-outs. In fact, they are often incorporated in our meal planning chart so that there are no last-minute surprises.

Experiment Every Now and Then

Cooking as a chore is monotonous. And having to eat similar dishes every day sucks the life out of you. But is wonderful as a creative outlet.

So every now and then, we experiment. We change recipes a bit to see how it goes. Also, we try various cuisines. On quieter nights, we try recreating dishes we had at restaurants too. As I meal plan ahead, I ensure all ingredients are available pre hand. And it is definitely a fun night for the family!

Cook Multiple Meals Together

A no brainer definitely. But, there used to be a time when I was insistent on making fresh meals every day for the family. Well, in hindsight, no wonder I hated cooking then!!!

But nowadays, I make food for 2 days at a go. The effort you put in is almost the same and the next day can be used for things other than cooking.

Keep The Kitchen Well-Organized

Nothing can be more frustrating than having to search all over to find what you need.

Having the right tools, kitchen equipment and keeping them organized is key to an efficient kitchen. And an efficient kitchen means you get in and get out quick.

So, which of these tips do you think helps the most to reduce the stress of having to cook every day? Do let us know in the comments.