healthy living

An Exercise In Not Hating Cooking

oatmeal cook at home

I seriously dislike cooking.  Really.  I would rather clean bathrooms than cook.  I would rather mow the lawn, pull weeds, or trim shrubs than cook.  I would rather change poopy diapers than cook.  Well, maybe not poopy diapers, but I would rather do a lot of things than cook.

I’m not a bad cook.  When I do cook, the food is usually edible and somewhat tasty.

Like many people, it’s the process of cooking that I dislike.  I’m not a huge fan of finding recipes and creating ingredient lists and then shopping for those items (grocery shopping – *shudder* – I hate it more than cooking).  Then there’s all the pulling out of the dishes and pans and utensils and spending an hour in the kitchen preparing the food.  And then, after you enjoy a brief moment of bliss while inhaling your masterpiece, you’re left with a dirty kitchen and a collage of dirtied dishes.  Yep.  Not too exciting in my book.

    Even though cooking is not on my list of favorite activities, there is something I’ve realized about disliking things:

You increase your dislike for things by your own thoughts and actions.

    If I didn’t talk so much trash on cooking, I probably wouldn’t dislike it so much.  If I didn’t dread it, I’d probably grow to enjoy it … a little bit.  And, mostly, if I figured out some ways to make cooking more efficient and enjoyable, while also stumbling up delicious recipes, then I think I could be one of those people that loves – or at least tolerates – cooking.

With that in mind, I think you have to look at the bright side – find the things you do like about the activity and/or change the things that you dislike about that activity.

There are a few things that make cooking more enjoyable for me:

  1. enjoying a glass of wine whilst preparing the food
  2. cooking on a weekend night (spending 2 hours in the kitchen after work just isn’t my cup ‘o tea)
  3. cooking with G
  4. grilling (which rarely never happens, because we live in an apartment that doesn’t allow that sort of fun)

These are the things I would like to change about my cooking habits:

  1. time spent cooking and efficiency of my cooking (I need to plan better)
  2. meal-planning in advance (no spur of the moment grocery lists)
  3. cooking things I really enjoy (printing/saving recipes as I come across them)

And I have a few criteria for the types of meals I cook.  They are:

  1. healthy
  2. cheap
  3. quick
  4. tasty

I don’t care to cook if the food is unhealthy – what’s the point?  Besides, that’s one of the perks of cooking – it’s usually healthier than store-bought or restaurant-served food.

For now, I want to learn more quick recipes.  I’m never going to become a lover of cooking if I kick off this voyage with hours-long cooking marathons.  I need to ease myself into this hobby.  Start off with some sprints, then try out some 5Ks, and then think about a marathon.

What brought on this desire to cook, you ask?

  1. Mainly because of all the cool kitchen gadgets and tools we’re receiving for our wedding.  My gracious friends, family, and co-workers are throwing us four – yes, FOUR – wedding showers.  This equates to a kitchen full of handy doodads that will make cooking easier and fun.  (And, by the way, we are SO happy to be finally retiring our cookie sheets from college and hand-me-downs from our mothers.)
  2. But, it’s not just the new kitchen paraphernalia, it’s that whole future family thing, too.  I was lucky enough to have a home-cooked meal on the table every single night during my childhood.  Some of my favorite family memories are of normal weeknights at the dinner table.  We want our future family to have those memories, too.
  3. And, of course, for my physical and fiscal health.  Eating out is generally unhealthy and expensive.  Although I love to be served, I want to start cooking for my family more often than not.  And, just so you know, G is a great help in the kitchen.  When we cook at home, it’s always a joint effort.  I may lead the way, but he definitely contributes half the effort almost every time.

I plan to start researching recipes and looking for ways to make cooking easier.  Things like printing off recipes from blogs, keeping a running grocery shopping list, meal-planning, and blogging about the process are in my future!

Do you like or dislike cooking?  Tell me about your cooking habits!

{source: a hilarious comic about cooking at home from The Oatmeal}


  • Have you checked out Stone Soup? She does 5 ingredient recipes which probably would make the shopping and preparing a bit easier than longer recipes.

    I also find that keeping a list of a few favorite, easy meals helps when I just don’t feel like cooking or trying something new. Not every trip into the kitchen has to make something new and awesome.

  • Crock pot.

    Dump everything in turn it on low for the day and everything is in one big crock and cooked at dinner hour. Scoop it all out and your done. Package up whats left. Put soap and water in it clean the 1 crock and your DONE.

    I love cooking I really do but when i’m not feeling well or tired or just really busy and not into cooking my crock pot is my best friend.

    There is a ton of crock pot recipes out there. But…

    Pork or beef roasts Or whatever
    Onion soup mix
    Veggies IE: potatos or carrots celery


  • I got married at 19 and now I’m 29 with a two-year-old and four-year-old. The first 5.5 years of marriage it was all frozen pizzas and canned chili and dining out. Having my first daughter made me want to cook more because I took some time off to be home with her and I didn’t want to be the SAHM who did nothing. Also, I started reading the labels and there is so much salt and other nasty junk in prepared foods. I keep it really simple:
    *Homemade versions of simple stuff like homemade chili, homemade pizza (even just using whole wheat Boboli)
    *I also do things like fancy grilled cheese sandwiches with different deli meats, mustards, mushrooms, etc to make it more “grown up”
    *We love to do fish. There are many simple ways to season it and it cooks up super fast with a side of steamed veggies or Alexia Sweet Potato Fries.
    Just keep it really simple and build off what you already know. I almost never crack a cook book and if I do find a recipe and like it, I toy with it slightly each time to come up with other ideas.

  • I am SO with you! I hate to cook, it is a battle almost every night to force myself to make dinner. The Mr. and I have become way to dependant on eating out and that makes me crazy. I had to share- this is a recipe I came across a while back by Googling I think “easy healthy recpies”. Anyway, its quick and SO GOOD! I made it twice in one week I liked it so much. Hopefully it fits your tastes too!

  • Hubby is the cook. He’s a good one too! But in trying to be a good wifey I do get in there and cook because I want to contribute and who doesn’t like to have someone cook for them now and then? I never cooked growing up and always hated it so this is huge for me. I’m trying to plan in advance so when I grocery shop I have ingredients available and I also try to print out recipes as I come across them. It’s getting better! It’ll never be something I love to do but I’m doing it and that’s what counts.

  • I like to cook, but like you I hate the thought of stewing in the kitchen for 2 hours after work. We go to the gym right after work and the last thing I want to do is to start cooking. So take outs from Chipotle and Noodle and Company add up to a real nasty number at the end of the month.
    I find that cooking is less daunting if the menu and ingredients are laid out. We try to decide the menu for the next week and do some prep work in the weekends. So on weeknights, all I have to do is put them together. Also Mike does the dishes and cleans the kitchen when I am done and that helps too. 🙂

    Good luck, hope you find your cooking groove soon 🙂

  • I love to cook, and for all the reasons you mention: gadgets, glass of wine, health, frugality. My mom hates to cook, and one reason I note is that she feels the need to follow recipes absolutely! I am more eh, laissez-faire, knowing that yes, baking soda and baking powder are not the same thing and do different things to the overall mix… but I also like to go off the path and try new things, like lime instead of lemon, or having no recipe–just ingredients I like–or making it about a dinner with friends. If they bring too, I only have to cook one dish, maybe. Food cooked at home tastes better, generally, although I do love to eat out (no clean-up!). And some things I won’t/can’t cook–like crab cakes. Just can’t. Have to eat them out.

  • While I was reading the post, the thought that popped into my head was: when you write it out like that, yeah, it does sound unenjoyable. So yes, having positive thoughts will help the cooking process.

    In terms of the dirty dishes, there are plenty of times during cooking, especially if you have something slow cooking on the stove or in the oven, where you can clean while you work. Also, re-using pots and pans (which may mix interesting flavors into your dish) also reduces the messiness.

    Lastly, in terms of the time to cook, maybe Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals? I think she actually does cook them in 30 minutes!

  • I LOVE cooking, and have written loads about how I (very much a NON-planner) got into the habit of planning a weekly menu and shopping list, as well as what kind of meals I make. It’s been a life-saver as far as our budget (and waist lines!) are concerned).

    I kid you not – cooking is one of my absolute favorite things to do, even after a long day of work. I just find it very relaxing and it’s the best outlet I have for my limited creative energies.

    That said, I’m not a recipe follower. Instead, I conjure up meals based on things I’ve had at restaurants and enjoyed, things I see on the Food Network, things I’ve made before that turned out well, and things I’ve made before that could be improved upon. I do have a few “go to” meals that I save for evenings when I’m feeling especially tired or uninspired, but for the most part, we don’t tend to eat the same thing over and over and over, from week to week.

  • I think this is a great goal. I for one love to cook, but am sometimes plagued by the problems that you face. One of the best things that you can do is to plan meals better. If you know you’re going to have a late meeting or something one night, plan something simple in the crock pot or eat leftovers for the night.
    Also, find a few good recipe sites (like epicurious) and use them, but not exclusively. Figure out what you like and cook some of that too. You dont need to follow a recipe or a specific meal plan, but having a trajectory or guide really helps.
    I try to get to safeway once a week, but usually I have to skip a week every so often if I over buy.

  • FOUR wedding showers?! You are so lucky!

    I’m not that big into cooking either, even though I’m trying to change that (I keep thinking maybe I detest it because my kitchen is so tiny, but who knows). My biggest problem when I cook is I end up snacking on the ingredients as I’m preparing the dish so by the time it’s cooked and ready to eat I’m already full. My advice would be to not cook on an empty stomach, and a glass of wine (as you mentioned) while cooking always helps. 😉

    • I know, I can’t believe there will be four. It’s straight madness I tell you! But…the good kind of madness. 🙂

  • I love this so funny I was just telling a friend I’m *done* with attempting to cook myself dinner during the week. I’m doing all shakes for dinner because after work it’s such a time sucker to think about being in the kitchen for 1 or 1.5 hours including clean up.

    I have a vitamix for my shakes and love it. You can pot anything in it.

  • Ha!

    I second Stone Soup – an awesome, awesome resource.

    I used to hate cooking. Pride myself on how bad I was at it.

    But you see, I love food. And so does T. He’s great at cooking, he just never had much reason/inspiration to do it earlier. Now we both make an effort, and it’s great.

    Being super organised never works for me. I tried to be a hardcore budgeter. Failed. Tried to be a hardcore grocery shopper with elaborate lists and plans. Failed. Now I just aim to try few recipes (never more than one or two a week at most) while I stick with go-to dinners ( the rest of the time, mixing it up with new twists and ingredients (again, following recipes closely is not really my thing; I like to just make it up as I go along.)

    You will find ways to make cooking more fun if you want to! I have faith.

  • I’m not a fan of cooking at all. I’m actually not a bad cook, but I have to be in the mood and I honestly don’t like it. I find that meal planning has been the best thing that ever happened to me in the kitchen.

    I plan really simple and quick meals (no more than 20 minutes). Meal planning has also been wonderful for my budget. I’m usually done cooking before I even notice it. A glass of wine definitely helps 🙂

  • That’s funny, the whole process of concoction and cleaning as I go has always been the fun part of cooking for me. I actually don’t enjoy the eating nearly as much as I do the cooking process – and that’s saying something since I always used to be the eater in any relationship.

    Then again, my biggest barrier to cooking (or doing anything) was starting in a messy workspace. that drives me nuts and I would just as soon not do it. Give me a fresh workspace? I’ll set to and attempt huge experiments AND clean up after.

    I miss cooking as a social exercise, though, it was fun doing it with a friend.

  • I hate cooking as well but mostly because when I’m hungry, I want to be able to eat something right then. If something can be tossed in the microwave, then I’ll do that. This is probably why I eat so much fast food.

    Once I have a family and won’t just be cooking for myself, I will probably start cooking properly but for now I am like you. Hate it.

    • I LOVE grilling! I think a lot of our cooking problems will be solved when we buy a house and can actually grill!

  • Hi! I just found your blog through the Financial Blogger Conference. I’m going too!

    I really enjoy cooking and baking, including the planning and grocery shopping. Though I could do without the cleaning. We have a shelf full of cookbooks and I read several food blogs. The first one I started to read was “Smitten Kitchen” and I’ve really been enjoying “Eat Live Run” recently.

    I think my biggest tip would be to make “planned overs.” For example, I made a double batch of chili on Sunday night. Plenty for us to share with friends on Sunday as well as to have for dinner during the week.

    • Healthy living blogs are where I get a lot of my food inspiration as well. 🙂

      I’ll see you at the financial blogger conference!! 🙂

  • I completely agree that you need to find easier meals to cook during the week and save the more difficult dishes for the weekend. Do you like on your own right now? Currently my wife and i have a system where whoever cooks doesn’t have to do dishes afterwords. Sometimes the person who cooks will still help out, but the pot and pans are left for the non cooker.

    We also cook meals we both know we enjoy during the week like tacos, burgers, pasta, chicken, and so on. These are fairly easy meals to make that we both love.

  • BF and I cook dinner at home most, if not all, weeknights, and then on Friday and Saturday nights we generally eat out. I LOVE reading cookbooks and trying new things, but I admit that the ingredients needed/costs can be daunting. I do have a few go-to cookbooks that contain really simple and healthy meals, though. One is called Momalicious. (I know–the title is terrible, but this is a GREAT cookbook even for people who aren’t mothers yet, like us.) Also, there is one called How to Boil Water that is simply a great resource for everything. Email me for more recs! 🙂 Outside of trying new recipes, which some weeks just doesn’t happen, I rely on the following staples: Brown rice or boxed whole-wheat couscous or steam-in-the-bag veggies for a side, and then chicken, fish, or beef, or pork chops for the main. Pasta is always a quick and easy meal to have on hand. I have to second the Alexia fries, too–all flavors! They are frozen and all-natural and heat up easily in the oven.

  • I also hate the TIME it takes to cook. Having to think about it more than 15 mintues before I want to eat is tough. Then even if I happen to A) know what I’m cooking and B) have all the ingredients it’s still a two hour ordeal if you include clean up.

    Or I could just make sandwhiches…

  • I totally hate cooking. It’s tough when it’s just for one person. Maybe someday if I’m cooking for 2 or 3 or 4…

    Also, Mr. Cupcake likes to cook, so that is a major WIN.

  • If it is taking two hours to prep/make/clean up every night, you might want to re-think how you’re going about it. Try some 5-ingredient meals (google for them) or find a “quick and easy dinners” cookbook at the library.

  • HAHAHAHA that cartoon is EXACTLY why I’ve started to loathe cooking…oh and after all that trouble, my dish usually doesn’t taste that great…bah humbug :p

  • Wow, you have absolutely read my mind… these are the exact feelings I have towards cooking! Thank you for the post, maybe there is hope!

  • OMG, I love this article, I feel more normal in my current loathing of cooking and anything similar or related to cooking. At the same time, I want to change my mindset and find ways to at least tolerate it. Or like a cousin of mine says to “not mind it”. Currently, it is to the point that it makes my skin crawl and I feel a knot in my tummy just to think about food preparation. I subscribed to a grocery delivery service, life changing! but I doubt I can afford a cook. I have been trying to fond a way to exchange chores with someone, like, I’ll do their bathrooms and they cook?
    I live alone wit my child so that makes it tough as well to get motivated.
    I guess I will start by stop stating my hate and switch to “I’m learning to enjoy cooking?”

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