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Dealing With Scratch Cooking Burnout

I stand behind real food not only because it is the best nourishment for our families, but also for the knowledge that it is grown as food ought to be. But I’m also well aware that from-scratch cooking takes time.

Throw a few food sensitivities, a budget, and some very hungry little ones in the mix and it’s a quick trip to the burnt-out cook line.

How many of you have been there? You’ve all got other things going on besides just three squares a day, and the fall out of those from-scratch meals, also known as my arch nemesis the dirty dish pile, could be a full-time job in and of itself.

Sometimes it can feel as though I am drowning, unable to get the dishes from today’s meals done, let alone the ones that have been back-logged from the last few days. So what’s a mama to do?

There are a few things that I find helpful when burnout strikes:

Meal plan. I know this seems like the last thing you want to do when you’re burned out, but if you’ve got to stick to a budget then you’re going to have to plan at-home meals. The planning can even become inspiration to kick into high-gear and get you out of that rut. Use Plan to Eat which keeps things simple and organized so you can worry about one less thing.

Plan easy, basic meals. If you’re not struggling with food allergies buy a loaf of good bread and make sandwiches. Splurge on a box of decent cereal to give you one less meal to cook for at least a day while you catch up. A pot of soup using whatever you have on hand can be a stand-alone meal. Eggs are quick and easy with endless variations and there’s always a quick one-pot meal. Make it about simply filling bellies with simple food rather than creating fun and excitement with a new meal.

Put catching up on dishes at the top of one day’s to-do list. I always end up with a few dishes left on the counter when the baby wakes up, or someone needs help with a schoolbook. So I almost always need at least one day of week of dish washing catch-up where I spend most of the day, off and on, working on washing a boatload of dishes.

Remember why you’re doing this. I really don’t cook three meals a day from scratch for the enjoyment of it. After three children, a homestead, and plenty of work to do I’ve hung up my foodie hat and traded it in for the pure nourishment hat. Where I once loved to experiment in the kitchen with all sorts of fun and new foods, I’ve come to realize that I can no longer look at food preparation as a hobby, but as an extension of the nurturing part of my role as mama and wife. But, I still get enjoyment out of the productive aspect of it and the happy “thank you!” I get from those around the table is more than enough of a bonus for me.

How about you… how do you deal with kitchen burnout?

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  • Ya know, there is nothing wrong with asking and even EXPECTING daddy to wash up a few dishes sometimes! I know the fellows can get busy with their own work, but they can spare five minutes from time to time.

    amy December 13, 2012 AT 10:35 am
    • Amy – I didn’t mention this in the post, but when my husband sees that I am struggling he often times just does some dishes or cleans something up without me even asking. Love that!

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days December 13, 2012 AT 10:47 am
  • I can soooo relate! We have been cooking healthy from scratch meals now for 9 years. I mean, just about every.single.thing. O_o I have 9 children and so that’s a lot of preparation. And, yes, I’m a foodie. I’m the one who gets bored. I’m the one who likes it gourmet. Well, life just hasn’t been about me lately (I know. Big shock lol). I plan my meals all at once for the entire month and make out the monthly and weekly shopping lists right then and there. Also, I double about half of my recipes and freeze them to reheat later in the month only adding some fresh bread or salad to complete that meal. If I have a bad day or just don’t feel like having what’s planned (as often happens) I just get out one of my frozen meals (almost like going out. The meal is already prepared and I get to peruse the list of yummies.) Since the cooler months are upon us we have been having quite a bit of stews and soups which are oh so satisfying on a chilly day. This makes it even simpler and inexpensive. I hope that helps out some of your readers!


    Julie December 2, 2012 AT 9:30 am
  • I can get too ambitious when meal planning, so this school year, I have made a real effort to plan really easy meals, often in one pot. Pasta tosses, stir fry, stews, soups and chili. While I’m the one who tends to get bored and would rather have complex flavors or different combinations, I’m a more sane mommy with the simple fare. Something else I’ve learned to do is batch cook the more complex meals (like homemade chicken nuggets) and freeze the extras so all that work pays off for more than one meal.

    Jessica December 1, 2012 AT 7:43 pm

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