Are you suffering in silence from cooking fatigue? Tired of trawling the internet for just one more creative recipe? Well you're not alone.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, we all relished rediscovering the joy of cooking again. Homemade sourdough bread anyone? Dalgona coffee? But as the lockdown has dragged on, our desire to cook has burned off, and boredom has set in. Who has the energy to cook every meal every day?
Deah Renslow from Austin, Texas, says her 13-year-old son began to expect a gourmet meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But recipes she found were too complex and ingredient lists were too long. Even though Renslow was home, she was still working a full schedule and that "got old real quick," she says.
So what's a homebound cook to do? Here are four ways to make mealtime fatigue a thing of the past.
1. Try a Meal Kit Delivery Service
Meal kits have been around for a while, but if you haven't tried them, now is the time. They're delivered to your doorstep in refrigerated packaging, so they're super convenient. Because most of the prep work is done for you, meal kits are ideal for those who don't want to do anything but cook and eat. Plus there's a meal kit option that suits just about every dietary lifestyle out there. Try Home Chef for meals that are pre-portioned, pre-chopped and oven-ready; Purple Carrot for vegan and plant-based options; or Sunbasket for gluten-free or carb-conscious dinners. (Home Chef sent HowStuffWorks a deal of $90 off your first four orders.)
2. Meal Prep and Batch Cook
Get a head start on your cooking by prepping all the hard stuff on the weekends. You can preslice your veggies or precook batches of lentils, rice and other ingredients that can serve as foundations or additions to other ingredients. Or you can spend a day cooking and packaging meals for the coming week. Then when it's dinnertime you just grab and go! And while you're at it, make more — if you double or triple recipes, you can freeze the extras for later.
3. Cook Smart in One Pot
Some meals are just meant to be easy. Chilis, stews, hearty soups and casseroles can be made in one pot or dish and most freeze well. Renslow says she uses an Instant Pot to throw together delicious dinners in 20 minutes or less. You can also make easy sheet-pan dishes like sheet-pan steak and frites or sheet-pan quesadillas.
4. Share the Duties
This might sound intuitive, but get the family involved. Renslow says her husband now pitches in with the cooking, something he never did pre-pandemic. But why not have the kids cook one night a week, too? It will allow them to learn simple recipes and give you a night off.
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