How to make cooking less tedious

There’s definitely something satisfying about completing certain household tasks or activities. And some domestic chores, like cooking, baking or decorating, can be thoroughly enjoyable. But even the most fun household tasks have some boring elements or can become a little tedious day in and day out. In this post, I’ll share a few ideas for making cooking less tedious.

Be sure to check out, Ways to Make Cleaning Less Tedious. Do you have ways of making your household tasks less annoying? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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make cooking less tedious cookbook with cocktail

Enjoying an occasional cocktail while cooking can also reduce the tedium.  

How to make cooking every night less annoying

I don’t find cooking annoying, but I know some people DO, and I totally understand that.

As much I enjoy cooking there are times when I am the idea of making dinner yet again is just….ugh.  And if cooking is a necessary but dreaded chore for you, then you’re likely to have even less enthusiasm. So what’s to be done?

These tips have helped me manage the more annoying aspects of cooking so I can focus on the parts I enjoy.

1 – Plan your nightly meals (and breakfast or lunch if you prepare those at home). You plan can be as simple or complicated as you’d like. In my house, our weeknight meals are simpler and we tend to eat a lot of the same dishes. That makes weeknight dinner faster and easier to put together. Yes, meal planning can also be a  tiresome task.  But it’s generally much less annoying to prepare dinner every night if you already know what you’re cooking. Think of it as trading one 30 minute window of planning to eliminate a daily annoyance. Relative to that…

2 – Use your meal schedule to plan one efficient grocery store trip. For many of us, a trip to the grocery store is irritating, others enjoy it. Either way, making one trip per week will save you time and money and make your nightly trek to the kitchen less annoying. When you already know what to cook AND that you have all the ingredients, making dinner is  so much easier. And if it’s easier, you’ll dread it less.

3 – Deputize help, if you can. For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming you, reader, are the primary cook in your household. Not everyone has family or roommates available, willing or able to lend a hand. But if you do, take advantage of it. Ask for help with food prep, shopping or clean up. Even a few minutes of assistance can make the whole job feel less overwhelming.

If you really hate one part of cooking or clean up, candidly try and convince someone else to take on that particular task. It’s amazing what a difference just delegating one hateful task can make. And of course, you can always try to trade off dinner duty if there’s someone else in your household who can and will cook.

4 – Make it easier to clean up after cooking. So often, I hear people say that part of why they don’t like cooking every night is the clean up. In addition to enlisting help, try some of these ideas for Making Clean Up After Dinner Easier.  Yes, it might involve some pre-planning, but think of it as trading few minutes in advance for less annoyance later. I’m a huge fan of planning and setting up a routine to make it easier to get things done and kitchen clean-up is no exception!

5 – Don’t cook food you don’t like to eat. Ok, so if you live with and prepare food for others, you might have to bend this a little. But it’s fine to stop cooking a certain dish or even an entire type of food because you just don’t like it.  Cooking food you don’t enjoy eating will make it that much harder to work up enthusiasm. If you have a family member or housemate who loves a certain dish, of course you might still want to make it for them. But you don’t have to make it all the time!

6 – If a recipe or food is particularly annoying to cook, you can take it out of the rotation. I’d encourage you to stop and think about this because it’s easy to get into a cooking rut. You might discover you always dread the night you make meatloaf of spaghetti because you dislike some part of the process.  If so, find other variations of the recipe or dishes you enjoy making more. Or look for ways to make preparation easier – maybe you use pre-packaged tomato sauce or may you work with frozen vegetables instead of fresh.

7 – Give yourself a break. Yes, I encourage folks to cook most of their food at home. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love take out or throwing together boxed mac and cheese! For you, a cooking break might mean one night a month (or week!) you simply do not cook and you enjoy take out, delivery or convenience food. Or it might mean a slightly longer break, say over a weekend, less frequently.

That’s not just about a night off from food, it’s also a night with less clean up, and it can do a lot of break up the daily grind of meals.

8 – Consider cooking in batches and/or serving leftovers. I know, I know. Advice to “cook extra and then freeze it for later” is almost a cliché at this point. But that’s because it’s honestly a really good idea. You don’t have to spend hours every Sunday making huge batches of soup or put up 40 pounds of “freezer meals”. Just occasionally make extra food or  freeze leftovers.

While a freezer stash can be very helpful for a night you can’t don’t want to cook, that’s not the only way to leverage this. Consider planning meals around this food in advance. That can be as simple as making a double batch of lasagna one week and planning to serve the second half two weeks later. It can also mean you cook a large amount of a side dish, like mashed potatoes or vegetables, and use portions of those for multiple meals.

Here’s one example – we love mashed potatoes. But I don’t want t to deal with peeling, boiling and mashing them very often. Since it’s really easy to make huge batches of mashed potatoes, that’s what I do. Then we either  mashed potatoes with several of the week’s meals OR we freeze meal-sized portions and I work them into the upcoming meal plan. It means we’ve got one really tasty side dish, that works with lots of main courses, ready to go.

9- Finally, use leftovers. Yes, another piece of advice that’s pretty basic.  It’s practically the pumpkin spice latte of housekeeping hints. But I don’t just mean reheat last night’s food. Although that IS a great way to make cooking less tedious! Suppose you decided to cook rice and beans one night. That means soaking and cooking beans or warming up canned beans. If you make extra beans, then you can turn those into black bean burgers for another night’s meal. Another great way to do this is putting extra vegetables or meat into a quiche or omelets.

There’s tons of way to use leftovers to streamline your cooking. The more you start thinking of the weeks’ food as a single unit, instead of individual meals, the more you can streamline your cooking and shopping.

At the end of the day, the best way to cut through the tedium of household chores and tasks like cooking is to figure out which parts are the least enjoyable for you. Then look for ways to cut out or minimize those aspects. It’s probably impossible to utterly remove tedium, but there are almost certainly ways to mitigate it so you can focus more on the parts you find enjoyable.

Do you like to cook? Hate it? What do you do to make the process easier or less tedious? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Part 2 will focus on making cleaning the house less tedious – sign up for my email list below so you don’t miss it!

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