"I don't want to make dinner!"
Sarah Seads, BA Kinesiology
Sound familiar?? I'll bet it does!
Even those who truely feel the 'joy of cooking' will experience a lack of desire to make dinner each and every night. Who really wants to come up with creative/healthy/delicious meal ideas 365 days a year? Who dreams of standing in the kitchen for 60+ minutes cooking dinner after a long, busy day?
Often the main reason for this lack of desire is really lack of time. When we have time, we may find cooking enjoyable or even relaxing and it can even provide a creative outlet. But when we are out of time, cooking dinner becomes a burden and just 'one more thing' that we have to do before we can relax. In a dream world I would suggest we change our lifestyle habits by saying NO to extra events, extra extra curricular activities, extra work, bigger tv's, newer cars yadda yadda yadda so that we can create more space in our lives for the good old fashioned basics...like food. I'm not going to lie to you: Preparing real, wholesome food for you and your family (and actually sitting down to enjoy it) requires some time from your day. What you get in exchange for that time, however, is priceless. And, it doesn't actually take as much time as you may think. In exchange for consistently setting aside 30-60 minutes/day you will receive relaxation, time with your family (or yourself!), energy, longevity, nutrient density and a connection between you and your food. And you may even pick up a little 'joy of cooking' along the way;)
That's my two bits on what I think you should try first. I am, however, a realist. Read on for some practical solutions.
Create a weekly meal plan based on how your upcoming week looks. The busier you are, the more important this is. Pick one day to look ahead at the coming week. Identify the days where you will have time to make a nice 'at home' meal, save recipes that may take more time, have more steps or are new to you for these days. Then identify the days where you will not have the time- working late, evening events, out of town, low motivation at the end of the week etc. Select recipes that are simple, require little prep time and are tried and true (or come from 'Plan B', below for these days.
Make your shopping list and fill your cart.
Spend some time preparing anything that may make your life easier during the week –30-60 minutes of prep time will save you hours of time, energy and frustration later in the week!
Cook a batch of quinoa or rice, roast a pan or two of veggies, make a batch of salad dressing, cut up and wash fruits and veggies, prep a 'salad bar' boil up a dozen eggs.
Create Plan 'B'
Create a plan 'B' for the days that you will not be able (or want) to make dinner. Some ideas are:
Make a BIG batch/double size healthy meal on the nights you do have time (or on your days off) and either freeze the left overs or plan to eat them the next day (soups and stews, homemade pizza, quiche, casseroles and burritos all freeze well).
Make a crockpock/slowcooker meal the night before the busy day (chop up extra ingredients while you are making dinner that night) and plug in the slowcooker in the morning so dinner will be ready to go when you walk in the door from work. If you don't own a slowcooker, see if you can borrow one for a few weeks and you will be convinced to invest in your own!
Plan for a bigger breakfast and lunch- and have an appetizer plate for dinner. Set out a platter of veggies, tuna, humus, whole grain crackers/pita. Think outside the dinner box- have a smoothie!
Get through periods of low cooking motivation by creating a personal 'meal challenge'. Plan to make one new recipe per week. Dig out your cookbooks or go online or endless ideas. Choose a theme by region (Thai, Mexican, Italian) or by ingredient to find inspiration.
Take a cooking class (and get a meal in the process:) at a local kitchen shop or rec centre if your community offers them. This is a great way to find inspiration, learn from the best, get new methods and recipes and have a great dinner out in the process:)
Don't Make Dinner
When the going get's tough you may have to 'call a friend'. Ask a friend (or a few) to join you in a Meal Sharing Month.
Once per week you make enough meals for everyone in the group and then deliver them to their homes.
On the other days, dinner will magically appear on your doorstep and you won't have to cook!
Make meals that are freezer friendly, find out about any allergies/preferences, purchase some tin pans/trays to share and get started right away!
I hope that some of these ideas will inspire you to overcome your 'mealtime' obstacles. One thing is for sure- no obstacle is too great. Where there is a will there is a way and I am sure you will find the way around (or over or under:)
For some fast and healthy snack and meal ideas be sure to check outmy little cookbook NRG: Foods that will move you! Thanks!
Sarah Seads is a Kinesiologist and Fitness Trainer based in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Her company Equilibrium Lifestyle Management, or ELM, offers group 'Fitness Adventures' and Personalized Training programs to assist clients in reaching for their fitness dreams and goals. FMI go to www.elmhealth.com.