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How to Make Cooking Less Stressful

Jun 04, 2024 02:35PM ● By Debra Caffrey

I personally love to cook, but even I can fall victim to the overwhelm of being responsible for providing meals to the family every day. I think it’s that never-ending feeling that leads some of us to resort to more takeout and convenience meals than we’d like or can afford, because cooking nightly can bog us down, especially for folks who don’t enjoy cooking and find the whole process kind of stress-inducing.   

But it really doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you cook even if it stresses you out, or you avoid it altogether because of that very reason, there are lots of way to make the process more relaxing, efficient, and enjoyable. Here are some habits that can help: 

  • Meal Plan in Advance: Don’t get stressed out about the concept – I promise that once you see it as an investment and not a chore, planning meals in advance will save you so much time and sanity. It’s literally just having a plan in place so that the rest of the week, you can operate on auto-pilot and have everything you need at home to execute getting dinner on the table.  
  • Embrace Mise en Place: This French term means “everything in its place” and professional kitchens rely on this practice in order to expedite lots of meals quickly. It’s the same at home – the more prepped your work space is in advance, the quicker, and less stressful your actual cooking process is. It also feels empowering to be organized. Gather your equipment, ingredients, set up your work station, and get the table set in advance and then you’ll be whipping up a meal in no time.  
  • Pair with Pleasure: Pour a drink, light a candle, and slip in those earbuds to listen to some music or your favorite podcast. It’s amazing how much faster cooking (and the clean up) goes when I’m zoned out listening to something. If having young kids complicates this, it’s okay to coordinate their device or movie-watching time of the day to your cook time. It’s a win for everyone.  
  • Time Management is Key: I’ve found that my “sweet spot” for cooking most meals is around 45 minutes. Once you figure out your own average, use this to do backwards math to figure out when you should start in the kitchen.  For instance, if you have to drive your teen to practice a 7pm, you’ll want to spend at least 30 minutes eating together as a family, so maybe start cooking by 5:30 to allow plenty of time for both.  

Finally, get to know what works for you. “Clean as you go” isn’t my go-to advice because personally, I actually prefer cleaning up one big mess afterwards. Some people like help, some want to be alone. The more you commit to cooking, the more you’ll discover your own preferences for how to keep things relaxed. Good luck!


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