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Love to Eat, Hate to Cook? Spice Things Up In 9 Easy Steps

Love to Eat, Hate to Cook? Spice Things Up In 9 Easy Steps

If you hate to cook, you’re not alone: in 2012, over 700,000 tweets involved the terms love to eat and/or hate to cook. I was one of those tweeters on more than one occasion (way more than one). So what’s the deal? Why does cooking make so many of us utterly miserable?

When asked to choose her biggest pet peeve about cooking, Stefanie Shuman, 29, a PR Manager in New York City, struggles to pick just one. “I’d say the issue’s time,” she says, “But on weekends when I could carve out an hour to prep/cook, it’s the last thing I want to do.”

You’re preaching to the choir, sister.

When I was younger, I thought I’d never find anything I despise more than cleaning… until I moved into my first apartment, looked at the kitchen and thought to myself, “What the expletive am I supposed to do in here?!” I know I need to suck it up and build healthier eating habits – admit it, you do too. Lucky for you, I hunted down a group of fabulous health experts to throw us a frickin’ bone here.

“There’s a strong notion that cooking means dirtying multiple pots and leaving the kitchen a mess,” explains Cathy Leman, Registered & Licensed Dietitian and Personal Trainer in Glen Ellyn, IL, “When actually, the process can be dramatically simplified.”

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Here are 9 simple steps you can use to turn up the heat (and turn down the drama) in your kitchen:

1. Let Go of Misconceptions

I’m not going to lie – when I think about having to cook, Psycho Strings starts playing in the background. But like Cathy mentioned, cooking has the potential to become what you want it to be.

Do your absolute best to set aside the fact that you hate to cook, and let go of the feeling that cooking is a messy time-suck and kitchen assassinator.

Imagine the cooking experiences you’d prefer having, and start making plans to create them.

2. Have the Right Tools on Hand

“No spatula? Darn! Guess I’ll have to order in.” (Me during my 20s.)

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Don’t give yourself reasons to back out of cooking, such as not having the right kitchen utensils available for the job. When you have the right tools, it makes cooking easier and ultimately less stressful.

3. Ease Into It

Start with simple meals that use the fewest ingredients possible and work your way up to more complex recipes. Try new recipes when there’s no chance of a time crunch (such as on weekends) so you can remake recipes that might not come out as planned.

According to Certified Personal Trainer Amy Clover, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to make healthy meals, and I’ve decided to believe her.

4. Relate Food to Fashion

I hate to cook, but I do love fashion.

“I find fashion websites to be great encouragement for food,” suggests Gina Keatley, CDN, award-winning dietitian and American Diabetes Ambassador. “The colors mirror each other and a bright yellow purse can get you motivated to try caramelized bananas.”

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It’s a fun way to start making food a part of your every day thought process.

5. Think PVF

When making dinner, think PVF: Protein, Veggies and (healthy) Fat. Doing your best to make sure these elements are on your plate make for consistently balanced meals.

“Save time by purchasing pre-cut and pre-washed veggies,” says Amy.

6. Cook Once, Eat Twice

Make double portions when you cook so you have lunch for the next day.

Cassie Ho, a California-based fitness instructor, cooks a whole week’s worth of food every Sunday: “I just put it in Tupperware and refrigerate. When I need a meal, bam! It’s already made. All it needs is microwaving.”

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7. Make It An Event

Make it a girls’ night in with the mission of trying a challenging recipe together. (Just make sure you have delivery on speed dial in case… and perhaps the fire department.)

8. Buy Frozen Dinners

Not all frozen dinners are bad for you, and are perfect when you’re in a pinch. California-based Registered Dietitian Sarah Mirkin recommends frozen dinners by Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Kashi.

She also suggests to “pair them with a salad and fruit to make them a balanced and satisfying meal.”

9. Cook What You Love

Make a list of the dishes you enjoy most and find recipes for them. Use your cravings for each as a way to bridge the gap between your health and hatred for cooking.

Once you’ve cooked them a certain number of times, you eventually won’t have to look at the recipes anymore – they’ll be part of your every day routine as your common staple dishes.

“Motivation is a huge factor,” says New York-based Nutrition Expert and Registered Dietitian Tina Ruggiero. “Once someone begins to cook, it becomes an exciting (and almost addicting) activity.”

Tina could be onto something – this morning I made myself an egg (with no trace of shell!), and it was actually edible. I now fully intend on making one again tomorrow.

Ready to Get Started?

  1. “Google easiest recipe for…. You’ll find some great options that way!”
    Dian Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged health and rapid fat loss book series
  2. “I love the Whole Foods app. As a raw foodie, I like raw meals for one or two people – they’re all quick and easy.”
    Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D., Health & Nutrition Coach
  3. “I’m a big fan of food journaling. Livestrong’s MyPlate is one of the best sites I’ve found for recording online. They have an app now too!”
    Amy Clover, Certified Personal Trainer
  4. “Honestly, the best app for keeping your diet on track is Instagram! Take pics of your food and appreciate the nutrients going into your body. That’s what I do. Food is not just fuel, it’s also art and beauty!”
    Cassie Ho, California-based Fitness Instructor

Do you hate to cook? What tips have helped you stay healthy?

More by this author

Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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