The Cursing Gourmet Tip of the Day:
Make some cooking goals and TRACK your progress. I’ve found this strategy particularly helpful as a cooking Hater.
If you don’t mind going to the gym, you don’t need to think about it much… you just GO. If you HATE going, but paid for that membership, you might keep track of the time logged to make sure you get your money’s worth as well as staying semi-on-target with whatever gym goals you had going in.
But there’s an entirely different reason why cooking goals are good for Haters…
When people think of cooking goals, they probably think “I want to cook something from scratch at least twice a week” or “I want to cook something new once a week.”
But Haters’ cooking goals can and should be VERY Hater-centric. For instance, here are a few of my cooking goals: One piggyback meal per week; Only 1-2 meals per week that require an hour or more of active prep/cooking time; 1-2 “dinner down payments” per month (sauces, burritos, whatever, to go into the freezer); and then, of course, 1 meal per week made using one of those dinner down payments.
You see where I’m going with this? By making/sticking to these hater-centric cooking goals, I keep my time commitment as minimal as humanly possible.
Seriously. My cooking game is insane. (Insanely nerdy, but anyway…)
Cooking lovers, foodies, true gourmets would probably shudder at my robotic approach to cooking.
But you know who doesn’t shudder anymore, every time she walks into the kitchen?
Don’t get me wrong – I still shudder plenty… Just not every single time I walk into the kitchen. And that is because I’ve managed to whittle down the time I spend in the kitchen to a tolerable level by sticking to these kinds of goals (and other hater-centric cooking tactics) majority of the time.
Sure, I have more traditional cooking goals. A year ago, when I first started tracking our daily dinners, two of my top goals were to cook one vegetarian meal per week and to cook one new meal per week. But most of the rest were hater-centric goals.
Soooo… drum roll… Here are some of my results for the dinners in this house between May 2016 and April 2017:
47 vegetarian meals in the past year. I’m very proud of my results on this goal – My nickname is Meat Tooth, after all. (Plus, this isn’t a “falling short” result because we were away for vacations and holidays for 4+ weeks last year. So I’m scoring this a total WIN!)
33 new meals in the past year. The goal was one per week, so I fell short here, but I’m not beating myself up about it. This was a stretch of a goal for a cooking Hater anyway. Probably sounds unimpressive to someone who LOVES cooking, but for someone who hates it? I totally kicked ass on this goal!
14 dinner down payments in the past year. Most of the stuff I make (sauces, soup bases, burritos) is good for that night’s meal plus 3-4 future meals. And the future meals are where the Hater benefits roll in>>>
40 freezer meals in the past year. I used these dinner down payments to create 40 meals that were either part-way-there or simply needed to be thrown into a pot or the oven to heat up. That’s 40 separate occasions when I had to do very little work to get a delish dinner on the table.
52 Leftovers Nights in the past year. Had no problem sticking to this goal of making sure I didn’t cook at least one night per week 😉 😂
Piggyback meals. This one is a newer goal, so I haven’t been nerdily tracking it yet. Plus, I only have so many tried-and-true piggyback meal recipes. But I have been training myself to do things like doubling the amount of chicken I make when a recipe requires shredded chicken so I can use it in another meal later in the week.
I have a couple other newish goals, like making at least 2 side salads per week. Our veggie intake certainly is not lacking around here. I just wanna get more raw veggies into our diet.
And another newish goal: Make my own creations! Now that’s an intimidating goal for me! Believe you me, this Hater never thought she’d get to that level…
There are also some general goals I keep in mind but don’t track (I mean, how nerdy do I really need to be?) Like how I try to make 1-2 one-pot meals per week (read: easy clean-up.) I also try to keep our menu plan varied by both the main component of the meal (chicken, beef, seafood, vegetarian, etc.) as well as the region of the cuisine (American, Italian, Mexican, Asian, Indian, etc.)
I’m not super-strict about ANY of my goals: When I say 1 vegetarian meal per week, I really mean 4-5 per month. Sometimes we have no vegetarian meals one week, sometimes we have 2-3! Most weeks, we have one. The whole point is to average one meal per week that does not contain meat.
Now maybe you’re such a Hater and/or cooking newbie that your only goal might be to “cook one dinner per week.” That’s cool! It’s a start, and ya gotta start somewhere. Make a goal or goals that are reasonable for your particular life, and get started. Track those goals. Write down what you eat every night for dinner, whether you cooked it personally or not. All of this information can be useful.
For instance, if you get takeout 2-3 nights per week, over a big chunk of time, you’ll notice patterns. Maybe you order 3 particular Mexican dishes more than any others. So someday, when you’re feeling saucy, you might attempt to learn to cook one or all of those three meals since you love them so much.
And as you build confidence in the kitchen, I recommend incorporating hater-centric cooking goals, like some of the ones I use personally, or others that fit your life and needs.
If you’re a cooking Hater, you gotta train your brain to think differently in your to approach cooking. I’m not making goals simply so I can pat myself on the back if I meet or exceed them… I’m making goals that will ultimately make my life easier, and absolutely minimize my time spent in the kitchen.
Leftovers Night? That’s for my sanity. I build that into every week’s menu plan so I don’t go out and kill people. And freezer meals = EASY meals. More sanity saved! And the down payment of time that goes into the freezer meals? If I make 4-5 meals’ worth of marinara, the sauce doesn’t take 4-5 times as long to simmer… And I’m only cleaning that pot ONCE.
These goals save me TIME, aka my SANITY.
So whether you’re a Hater, or someone who’s just very crunched for time, I highly recommend making these types of cooking goals for yourself. You’re welcome 😉