This post was written by KS Contributing Writer Debra Worth of Worth Cooking
I love cooking, about 90% of the time. The other 10% is usually in the midst of complete and utter burn out and cooking sounds about as doable to me as outrunning a hoard of wild boars.
I get stressed easily and when I do my insomnia flares up, which means I get beyond tired, which means I get stressed even easier. I guess it is a con to being a very passionate person.
More often then not, the place that breeds this stress-insomnia-exhaustion-stress cycle is the kitchen during cooking burn out.
In trying to being better about not getting myself into a frenzied sleep deprived ball of negative emotions I am trying to do better about seeing the things that make me stressed and to address those rather then just try and plow through.
1. Not Having A Good Menu Plan
I stopped for a while because it seemed an insurmountable task with allergies. But, because I didn’t sit down and face it head on, I was then facing it in smaller ways 3-4 times a day. Eeeks.
I do my best to focus on what we CAN have. What is a protein we can have, what is a vegetable we can have, what is a starch we can have?
Then I figure out what direction I want to go with those ingredients. Are we having broccoli and chicken with southwestern seasonings, lemon juice, or Chinese five spice and an Asian (soy-free) sauce.
Katie also has some great tips for meal planning – especially her connected meal planning. It’s a great tip to string along leftovers and cook once, eat twice!
2. Too Strict A Plan
On the flip side though, I rarely follow the plan exactly. Sometimes writing “gluten free flat bread” on a plan is MUCH easier then making said gluten free flat bread when the time comes. So, I decided to give myself lee way and know that menu planning is still worth it even if I do not follow exactly.
I keep staples around so that I can to some extent deviate from the plan without messing up the rest of the week.
3. Crowded Work Spaces
Almost every time I feel like I am going to go batty in the kitchen, it is because of crowding/mess. There are chairs from the kids helping me earlier in the kitchen. There are dirty dishes in the sink getting in the way of filling pots and pans with water. There are sheet pans of vegetables on top of the stove instead of out of the way.
There are a few things I do. My favorite is to leave the kitchen while my husband spends 10 ish minutes taming it. But, of course that isn’t always possible, so I will decide to simply put away 10 things or work for x amount of time. As the craziness dies down I can then think more clearly about what needs to happen.
I also do not store anything on the counter since lots of space is a big deal to me. I have a space for dirty dishes, drying mats for clean dishes, and the rest of the counter is (ideally) free. All appliances have a place off of the counter.
4. Cooking Every Little Thing Myself
I used to cook every little thing from scratch. Even things that didn’t really make sense to cook from scratch. Like tahini which I NEVER got smooth. Never. I simply did it because… that is what I did.
Now with needing to cook allergy free + my desire for real nourishing foods I am getting a little smarter with how I spend my time in the kitchen. Even easy things to make take time (and dirty dishes). I keep my eye out when I am at the store for natural things I can buy without going broke and that our whole family can eat.
I need to make enough things make enough things from scratch that it is important I take real food shortcuts where I can.
I also try and keep easy things to fix around so that my husband (who is VERY MUCH not a cook) can make dinner.
5. Complicated Foods
Some foods just make my head want to spin thinking about them no matter how I feel about cooking at that moment. We have a small kitchen and no counter by my stove. Because of this I strongly dislike making dishes that take too many pots and pans.
I make a lot of one pot meals, or things to serve over rice that I cook in a rice cooker or potatoes I bake in the oven.
Also, since we are gluten free I think of simpler ways to serve classic dishes. Serving sandwich fillings in potatoes or peppers, making soups that are easily allergy free that sort of thing. Like I mentioned above I try and focus on what we can have, and go from there.