When life gets busy, cooking can quickly become a dreaded task. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ll teach you how to enjoy cooking again with tips and tricks I’ve personally used! Even though it might feel impossible to ever enjoy cooking again, I promise you it is if you follow these tips and tricks.
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1. Plan your meals ahead of time on a menu board
Planning your meals ahead of time avoids stressing every night over what will be made for dinner. I also like to write out exactly what I am making each day on a menu board that I hang on my wall. I got my menu board at Hobby Lobby for $10! That way, I can look up at my menu board in the morning and know what is being made for dinner that night. As a bonus, you won’t have every member of your family asking what’s for dinner if they can look up at your menu board!
2. Get a cute recipe box and recipe cards
Once you have cute recipe cards to write on and a cute recipe box to put them in, you’ll want to fill your box with recipes! Once you’ve collected all those ideas, you might as well cook them! I also like to put a hole punch in the corner of my recipe cards and put all the recipes for the week on a carabineer so I don’t have to search for them throughout the week!
3. Make sure you have a speaker nearby
Nothing makes cooking better than a little music! Keeping a speaker in your kitchen allows you to have a dance party in between all those stirs and flips. And if you have kiddos around, they can join in on the dance party too!
4. Establish a day of the week for leftover night
Whenever you are planning your meals for the week, plan for one day a week to be a leftovers night! You can do leftovers on the same day of the week every week or plan leftovers for your busiest day that week! This helps reduce food waste and gives you a little break from cooking one night a week.
5. Get a good crockpot
If you have ever looked at my recipe page on this website, it’s no secret that I absolutely love crockpot recipes. My crockpot has saved me so much time and saved my sanity on some super busy days. With so many amazing dump dinners out there, there is no reason to spend ages making your dinner. Let your crockpot do all the work for you.
6. Create a kid play cabinet
If you often have to cook with young children, you know the frustration of your toddler constantly wanting held and played with while you are trying to cook. Dinner takes three times as long to make and no one is happy in the process. The other alternative was that my son took every pot and pan out of my cupboards and left me with more dishes to do after dinner was made. That’s why I decided to create a kids’ play cabinet. I cleared out one cabinet in my kitchen and filled it with a few full size pots and pans, kids pots and pans from Melissa and Doug, whisks, pot holders, old water bottles, play food, and the list goes on. My son will often sit and play with the stuff in his cabinet the whole time I cook dinner!
7. Have each child (and your husband) choose one meal each week
When you are planning your meals for the week, ask each family member to pick a meal. The more kids, the easier the planning! My mom always used to do this. She hated the planning part of cooking, but with four kids picking meals, most of her planning was done for her! Who knew, more kids could actually make the planning easier for you!
8. Make a double batch of one meal each week
If you have the freezer space, I highly recommend making a double batch of one meal each week and freezing it. On those insanely busy days, you will be able to pull a meal out of the freezer and be ready to go.
9. Invest in an air fryer
My air fryer has saved dinner many times. You can make homemade chicken nuggets, potatoes, fries, or yummy roasted veggies in 15 minutes or less!
10. Always have back up food staples on hand
There is nothing worse than starting to cook dinner and then realizing that you are missing something simple like olive oil. I like to keep a backup of all the staples and condiments we use a lot so that we are never out of them when we really need it! As soon as you use your back up, add that item to your list for your next shopping trip. You will always have an extra and you will never have to run out to the store to finish cooking again!
11. Organize and decorate your kitchen well
This may seem silly but in order to enjoy cooking, your kitchen needs to be a place where you want to be! Make sure to organize your kitchen well so that you don’t have to spend extra time finding the things you need. With good organization or fun decorations, you can enjoy your time in the kitchen.
12. Make sure you own a sharp knife
There is nothing more deterring from eating vegetables than trying to cut them with a dull knife. Not only is it annoying, but it’s also extremely dangerous. Whether you invest in a set of knives from a company like Cutco that has free sharpening for life or you buy yourself a knife sharpener, make sure that you always have a sharp knife on hand. It will make cooking much faster and easier.
13. Prep Dinner in the Morning
Prepping dinner in the morning and throwing it in the fridge means less stress later on in the day. It’s also highly convenient on days when we are out and about until dinner time. When dinner rolls around, all you have to do is pull it out and throw it in the oven! I like to prep dinner during my son’s morning nap!
14. Involve your kids if you can
Kids love being involved in whatever you are doing, whether it be a partner to your bathroom break or your fellow cook. Try to let your kids help in whatever way they can, whether that be simply stirring a bowl with a few ingredients, reading you the directions, or cooking something all on their own! Cooking is a great skill for your children to learn and it’s a great opportunity to spend time with them too! You can even buy your little chef an adorable chefs hat and apron!
I hope these 13 tips and tricks allow you to enjoy cooking again no matter how busy life in your house may be!