Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to Light the Fire and Keep it Lit or I Hate to Cook

I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, "I could never be on that diet because I just hate to cook". Well, I do like to cook, but I do understand what they mean. After years of cooking most every meal and so many things from scratch (2 of my 4 kids eat gluten free) I have days, sometimes a few in a row, where I just hate to cook.

I have found a few tricks to help me "get in the mood" for cooking and they really do work. If you absolutely hate to be in your kitchen, cook a meal, or even attempt cooking for others, here are a few things to try:

1. Create an Atmosphere
Hang your favorite art in your kitchen, have some kind of music player with your favorite tunes in your kitchen, light a candle, paint the walls red, heck install cable TV if you need to but make the kitchen a fun place to be.

2. Keep it Clean
This is a challenge in any kitchen but at my house everyone uses the outside door that leads right into the kitchen. I home school 3 kids who are eating all day long and keeping it clean enough to cook is my biggest challenge. I love the book Organic Housekeeping it has great suggestions for keeping the kitchen sparkling. Also if you really struggle Fly Lady is a great place to get some help creating cleaning habits and keeping them. But really the best advice I have here is to clean up as you go. Fill the sink with soapy warm water and as you cook put the dirty dishes into it to soak. When you are done everything either goes right into the dishwasher or gets washed and put away. Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen, just bite the bullet and leave it clean for the following morning.

3. Invest In Yourself

Buy some quality basics; measuring cups and spoons, dishtowels, nice smelling cleaners, a good knife, cutting boards, a nice mixer and blender all help make cooking a pleasant experience.

4. Organize

Try to group the items you use the most near one counter so everything is within easy reach. The picture above is my "cooking station". The canisters hold flours, baking soda and salt. The cupboard to the left holds oils. The measuring cups are in the blue basket, I am standing right next to the refrigerator so for the most part I don't move from that counter while I am mixing and baking. If this is not possible for you, get everything out you will need first and put it away as you use it.

5. Have a Recipe Filing System

I have tried many different ways and have come up with this system that works for me. A filing folder holds my "recipes to try". Another holder holds recipes I am perfecting, usually I have made them and want to try them again with some kind of changes. A good old plastic box holds my tried and true recipes on 4x6 cards. I type them on my computer in Word, print them on a card and save the file in case I ever need a new copy (this comes in very handy when someone asks for a recipe, I can usually just e-mail the file to them). It just happens that my microwave is metal so I can hang the recipe I am currently using from the microwave with a magnet.

6. Take Some Time Off Once In a While

There are times I am too busy or too tired to cook. Hopefully I have something in the freezer we can eat, my kids sometimes cook, or on some occasions we go out to eat. If you need time off once in awhile take it.

7. Always Make Extra

I don't know if this strategy would work for everyone but with two growing boys food never goes to waste at my house. I always plan on leftovers, if no one eats them in a few days they go into the freezer, most often we eat them for lunch. Sometimes we all choose a leftover and heat it up for dinner and I don't have to cook that night.

8. Get Everyone Involved

I learned this one from my mom. I am sure it wasn't every week but in my memory most weeks after church we made tacos. Everyone helped by making one or two parts of the meal (someone had meat, someone else cheese and lettuce...etc.) and in a few minutes dinner was ready.

9. Make a 6 Week Menu/Shopping List

I have not been on this diet long enough to have collected enough recipes to do this yet but I am getting close. Write down what you cook and eat for 6 weeks and keep a list of ingredients. Then recycle the list using the ingredient list for a shopping list. I think I will do this for seasons as well. We are eating so much fresh produce and grilling outside now our meals are very different from the other times of the year.

10. Enjoy

Find a reason to enjoy cooking. It can be a meditative experience to take a break from everything else and just focus on the food. Chopping is very cathartic. You are feeding your body the nutrients it needs, focus on the food and enjoying the process.

11. Last But Not Least...Start a Blog

It is really fun to have all your recipes with pictures in one place, to share with others and to meet such nice people online. When you do send me your website address!


  1. Hi Karen - great ideas! I love the 6 wk menu/shopping list plan, and to make extra to freeze! Wished I had thought of that when my boys were younger - but I can still do this for 2-3 people too! Thanks, Ina

  2. Great advice! One more tip I follow: Get everyone to help clean up too :)