Reigniting the Flame for Cooking: Overcoming Burnout with Easy, Healthy Meals

May 24, 2024

Welcome to my Q&A series with a recent question submission: 

 

I used to like cooking and meal prep but lately I’m feeling burnt out and not motivated. What can i do to feel inspired again with food? 

Thank you for the question.  Feeling out overall and or with cooking is quite common.  It can often be seasonal too. Often the lack of sunshine, color around us etc. depending on where you live can create a “lack luster in life”. Many of than experience a cycle of less nutrition intake that can lead to tiredness and create a “vicious circle”.  The good news is, that in the sunnier months, we tend to have more outdoor living, color, natures gifts and fresh produce that can in and of itself provide a lift.  Let’s take a look at ways to reignite the flame in cooking 😉

 

 

Reigniting The Flame for Cooking: Overcoming Burnout with Easy, Healthy Meals

Feeling burnt out from cooking can take a toll on your overall well-being. Lack of motivation in the kitchen often leads to unhealthy eating habits, which can further affect your energy and mood. However, with a few strategies and fresh meal ideas, you can rediscover the joy of cooking and enjoy nutritious, easy-to-make meals.

 Strategies to Combat Cooking Burnout

  1. Simplify Meal Preparation:

   - Use pre-made ingredients like salsa, Pico de Gallo, hummus, guacamole and pre-cut vegetables and premade salads to save time.

   - Incorporate ready-made healthy options such as rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked grains.

 

  1. Theme Nights:

   - Establishing themed meal nights can add excitement and variety to your week.

     - Meatless Monday: veggie kebabs or butternut squash soup or power bowls

     - Taco Tuesday: Fish tacos with mango salsa-rotate the many tacos available

     - Wok Wednesday: Chicken and vegetable stir-fry with quinoa.

     - Try New Thursday: Experiment with a new cuisine or recipe. Like Thai Food!

     - Fun Friday: Homemade pizzas with colorful veggie toppings.

     - Sporty Saturday: Grilled chicken and vegetable skewers or slow-cooker chili

     - Soul Sunday: Comfort food like a hearty Shepard's pie or roast dinners.

 

  1. Make-Ahead Meals:

   - Prepare meals in advance using slow cookers, air fryers, or pressure cookers.

   - Batch-cooking ensures you have healthy meals ready throughout the week.

 

 

 Easy and Colorful Meal Ideas

  1. Healthy Charcuterie Board:

   - Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (like turkey slices), nuts, and whole-grain crackers.

 

  1. Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls:

   - Blend spinach, frozen berries, a banana, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder. Top with granola, chia seeds, and fresh fruit for a smoothie bowl.

 

  1. Power Bowls:

   - Combine a base of quinoa or brown rice with roasted vegetables, avocado, black beans, and a dollop of salsa or guacamole.

 

  1. Salad Meals:

   - Create salads using mixed greens, pre-cooked chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a simple olive oil and lemon dressing.

 

 7 Make-Ahead Meals

  1. Slow Cooker Chicken Chili:

   - Combine chicken breasts, canned tomatoes, beans, corn, and spices in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

 

  1. Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries and healthy Homemade Chicken Fingers:

   - Slice sweet potatoes, toss in olive oil and seasonings, and air fry until crispy.

 

  1. Pressure Cooker Beef Stew:

   - Use lean beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, and broth. Cook under pressure for about 35 minutes.

 

  1. Overnight Oats:

   - Mix oats, almond milk, chia seeds, and a touch of honey. Refrigerate overnight and top with fresh fruit in the morning.

 

  1. Mason Jar Salads:

   - Layer dressing at the bottom, followed by hearty ingredients like chickpeas, grains, and then greens. Seal and refrigerate.

 

  1. Baked Chicken and Vegetables:

   - Season chicken breasts and bake with assorted vegetables. Portion into containers for easy lunches.

  1. Egg Muffins:

   - Whisk eggs with chopped vegetables and bake in a muffin tin. These can be refrigerated and reheated for quick breakfasts.

 

 Balanced Meal and Snack Ideas

  1. Breakfast (300-400 calories):

   - Greek yogurt with honey, berries, and a sprinkle of nuts.

   - Avocado toast on whole-grain bread with a poached egg.

 

  1. Lunch (400-500 calories):

   - Quinoa salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, and a lemon vinaigrette.

   - Turkey and hummus wrap with a side of baby carrots.

 

  1. Dinner (400-500 calories):

   - Grilled salmon with a side of steamed broccoli and sweet potato.

   - Stir-fried tofu with mixed vegetables over brown rice.

 

  1. Healthy Snacks (150-200 calories):

   - Apple slices with almond butter.

   - Carrot sticks with hummus.

 

 Rediscovering Your Love for Food

Falling in love with food again involves finding joy in the process of cooking and eating. Make mealtime a pleasant experience by setting a comfortable environment, playing your favorite music, or involving family members in meal preparation.

 

Consult a Dietitian

For personalized meal ideas that fit your nutrition goals, lifestyle, budget, and food preferences, consider working with a dietitian. They can provide tailored advice and recipes to help you stay motivated and enjoy a balanced diet.

 

 Conclusion

By incorporating these strategies and meal ideas, you can overcome cooking burnout and rekindle your passion for preparing healthy, colorful meals. Simplify your meal prep, explore themed nights, and make use of make-ahead recipes to make cooking more enjoyable and less stressful.

Reach out with your questions to [email protected]  780-814-2983

 

Karie Cassell, RD Life Coach 

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