Has the last two years in the kitchen left you feeling burned out? Many of us have been cooking at home more since the start of the pandemic and it’s made us realize just how much work it is to cook every meal every day. But Leanne Brown, author of “Good Enough: A Cookbook,” encourages home cooks to stop being so hard on themselves and setting unrealistic expectations for the meals they make.
"We find ways to criticize ourselves when we're already having a hard time," Brown explains. And unless your family is paying you for all the food you’re cooking, try to take some pressure off yourself. Instead of beating yourself up over what you think a “good cook” needs to be, lower the bar and try to think in terms of “good enough.”
These are Brown’s strategies for making the daily job of feeding yourself easier:
- Acknowledge that cooking is about more than cooking - Making the meals themselves takes time, but so does all the deciding what to eat, buying ingredients and cleaning up after cooking. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s in the form of someone else doing dishes or buying pre-chopped veggies.
- Try a meal routine - Meal planning doesn’t work for everyone, but meal routines are a simple alternative. It can be having a specific meal on a specific day, like Taco Tuesdays, or Pizza Fridays, or switching back and forth between two breakfasts, like smoothies and overnight oats. It gives you one less thing to think about and the kids know what to expect ahead of time.
- Do “leftover analysis” to stop the guilt cycle - Take note of which leftover containers you tend to avoid and which ones you still enjoy eating after a day or two. Then tweak your cooking to make less of the foods you get tired of eating quickly so you don’t have to avoid that one container in the back of the fridge.
- Some nights a cheese platter will do - When you don’t feel like cooking, embrace easy comfort food. That can be as simple as cheese and nuts and it doesn’t have to look Instagram-worthy for it to taste good!