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To cook or not to cook?

We all know how difficult it can be to get food on the table night after night, especially after a full day’s work.  You are tired, a hungry partner or kids await,  and you don’t have anything planned for dinner.  So, the easiest thing to do is to stop and pick something up or run out for a quick meal. And, yes, that is always and option,  yet,  you wrestle with that decision as well.  Maybe it is not your preference for various reasons, the cost, you want to eat or serve balanced meals, and, you just want to get home! And,  the reality is  you have to eat and feed your family.  If this is a dilemma for you, here are a couple ways to go about it with out meal prepping all weekend— which can be a total drag!

Assess your strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen

Become aware of your barriers to cooking— is it time, not grocery shopping regularly, lack of skill , high expectations?   This can help you hone in and do some problem solving around what truly hinders you in the kitchen.  Once identified, you can decide on a couple reasonable steps to take that fit in to  YOUR life?  Many clients I work with put so much pressure on themselves to do it all which is overwhelming, and then end up doing nothing.  These extremes are rarely gratifying, especially with food. We need to give ourselves a break and do what we can without adding another layer of stress. It does not have to be perfect, just go in the direction that feels good to you!.  Start simple and gain confidence before you move on. If and when you decide to cook,  having a  workable game plan can be used to bring you closer to your preferrd way of eating.

How to gain skill and confidence in cooking

If you don’t feel good about your cooking ability or are limited on time, don’t panic, you are not doomed to a life of fast food.  As with anything, practice builds confidence and skills.  Start by thinking of a couple meals you  you can prepare with general ease. Keep it simple, maybe a meal you prepared when growing up? Think in terms of food groups. Protein, a starch and a vegetable , and or fruit— it does not need to be perfect. I find this to be a big stumbling point for many clients,  if it is not all homemade, they don’t cook at all.  This all or nothing thinking pattern with food is not helpful and gets us in trouble.  You can use a combination of convenience and whole foods, such as, frozen breaded chicken,  a salad (or salad kit) and mashed potatoes (maybe homemade or not?).  Another night could be quesadillas , sliced cucumbers with fruit.  It all works as long as it works for you and your family.

Play on your strengths

If you are willing,  experiment by adding to a skill you already have. Perhaps you  like roasting vegetables —add chicken thighs to the sheet pan (they are much more forgiving than breasts if you overcook them), serve with rice. Again, think of a couple of meals ahead of time, make a list of ingredients and staples needed.  Get to the grocery store so you have your ingredients on hand -this is a big one! Also,  experiment with finding a good  time to grocery shop on a regular basis.  Choose easy to prepare and familiar meals.  Consider making extra for leftovers and ask for help when possible.  Yes, it does take some effort, and, as with anything, you will find that cooking  becomes easier and more satisfying–on many levels — as you practice. Then notice, with kindness and curiosity,  what happens the weeks you cook versus the weeks you don’t? Do you have a  preference? Then tweak as needed or desired, and enjoy!

Find my simple roasted sheet pan chicken and vegetable recipe here.

Here are other sheet pan dinner ideas from EA Stewart, the Spicy R.D.

 

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Hi, I’m Silvina Cox, M.P.H, R.D.N. As a Registered Dietitian and Intuitive Eating Coach, I combine the science of nutrition with weight-neutral best practices that honor you and your body’s wisdom. It is my joy to help you find vibrant health, your natural weight, and lasting peace with food and your body.