I would say for quite some time I have been feeling a bit of kitchen burnout: I found it overwhelming and draining to even think about cooking. I think it was a combination of having a husband who traveled often for work pre-pandemic, so most nights I was just trying to get dinner on the table as quick as possible, to pandemic times of just feeling like I was always. in. the. kitchen.
I wouldn’t say that I hate cooking but I also wouldn’t claim it as a passion. I also love eating out so it is not difficult for me to choose that over cooking, but that doesn’t always make my budget happy. Cooking and preparing meals is something that will never end (no matter who in the family is doing it) and so over the summer, I decided I needed a bit of an attitude adjustment, especially as I saw busy fall schedules coming quickly.
While I wouldn’t say that I skip to the kitchen every morning, I’d say that the kitchen and I are in a much better place than we were even a month or so ago.
Here are a few things that have helped me get out of my kitchen burnout + three of my go-to recipes:
Like anything, my mindset had everything to do with my motivation! I decided to make a conscious choice that this was something that I wanted to improve in my life. It was going to be a priority for me. I knew the positive effects of having meals together with my family, making sure I felt organized in other food preparation times, all of that would come together. But first, I needed to change my attitude.
I know this seems like an obvious one but it truly helps. Even if it’s nothing fancy, just jotting down meal ideas for the week (including breakfast, lunch, and snacks). I contribute some of my kitchen burnout to just feeling overwhelmed about all the decisions! There are so many meal plan systems out there, themed weeks (Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc)., meal rotations (planning two weeks of meals for example, and then repeating for a couple of months). Whatever is the easiest to stick to, choose that!
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
For awhile, I felt this pressure (from no one and nothing except myself really) to constantly try new recipes. But when I think back to my own childhood, I can still remember the meals my family had again and again. My kids are getting to the age where they have specific meals they love and are excited to when I say that it’s for dinner. They love tacos so we definitely do Taco Tuesday! So stick to the well-loved recipes and throw in new ones for fun!
Create a Positive Environment
I follow the Food Nanny on Instagram and she lives in a tiny town on a farm and is all about homemade meals. Honestly, following her and her passion for cooking for her family has helped shift my mindset out of burnout mode. She always says, “Keep cooking; your family is worth it.” My main goal, especially with dinner, is that my kids feel a sense of love and connection. And we need to eat everyday, so it combines two goals! We always share our sweet and sours for the day as we eat and it’s really a time of connection for our family, especially as our schedules get busier.
I also try to create a calm mood around dinner time as much as I possible. Obviously, I can’t always control that but I do my best. Some of the ways I do this are:
- let my kids watch TV or play on the iPad or computer (no shame here!)
- play outside in the backyard (when it’s not 1,000 degrees),
- put on my favorite music (I like to play music that I know will make me happy and bring up good memories)
Lastly, don’t do it all yourself! I tried to think what would make me feel less overwhelmed and burned out on cooking, and one of the answers was knowing when I would have a break! So we decided that my husband handles the meals on the weekends. This was honestly life changing for me in this area of my life. Just knowing when I would be able to not be in charge did wonders for my motivation to take care of the meal preparations during the week. As we have all heard, we don’t have to do it all!
3 Go-To Family Recipes to Avoid Kitchen Burnout
We all go through times of burnout in various areas of our life and we need to take a step back and recharge. I can honestly say I have enjoyed preparing meals for my family over the last several weeks. We still eat out and get takeout, and some nights I don’t feel like cooking dinner or life is extra busy or hard, don’t get me wrong. But the simple mindset shift of wanting it to be a priority helped me gain momentum. If you’re struggling with kitchen burnout, choose one small change you can make and go from there…sometimes that’s all it takes!