5 Tips to Beat Cooking Fatigue

Tired of being stuck in the kitchen? Check out these five tips on how you can beat cooking fatigue from Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian.

We’ve been stuck in our kitchens for a year now, and it’s official—COVID cooking fatigue has set in! I, like many others, started the quarantine period with enthusiasm about all the free time I would have to cook and bake, hopping on the latest trends: sourdough, whipped coffee, and smoothie bowls. I baked sheet after sheet of snickerdoodles, peanut butter cookies, and muffins, packing them away for friends and family alike. Now, though, the excitement and novelty I felt is fading, and I’m not alone. Only four months into the pandemic, consumers’ desire to minimize food prep rose by 50%.

Experiencing cooking fatigue? Check out the “Easy” recipe archive on my website.

Part of the fun is cooking for other people, and with social gatherings still at a minimum, there’s less motivation to spend time creating elaborate meals. Holiday dinners, which are traditionally the highlights of the culinary year, have dwindled from large-scale parties to single-family or even single-person events.

Running out of ideas? Check out these easy plant-based recipes for one.

Unfortunately, this cooking fatigue can lead to unhealthy choices being made. Food delivery services are growing in popularity, and many people may choose to eat takeout instead of spending the time planning, shopping for, and cooking up meals…and don’t forget about washing the dishes afterward. But don’t throw in the towel (literally)! There are still a number of ways to find enjoyment in cooking. Here are my top 5 tips on how to beat cooking fatigue.

Top 5 Tips on How to Beat Cooking Fatigue

What could be simpler to make than this delicious Instant Pot Chickpea Curry?

1. Simplify the Planning. Don’t over-stress your meal planning process. Just stock your basic pantry supplies, and supplement it with fresh seasonal produce each week, then create meals from your supplies each day. 

Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy. Use ingredients you already have to whip up an easy breakfast scramble.

2. Cook from Your Fridge. Learn how to just open the fridge and make a meal out of what you see (in combo with your pantry). If you have carrots and celery in your fridge, why not make a lentil stew using dried lentils and spices in your pantry. 

Stumped on ideas? Take a look at these 50 beloved vegan meals…you’re sure to find something tasty, like this orange tofu with brown rice!

3. Try One New Recipe a Week. Don’t put pressure on yourself to cook an amazing new recipe each night of the week! Pick just one night—your easiest night of the whole week—and cook a new recipe you find on a blog, cookbook, or magazine. Check out my recipe collections for inspiration.

Sheet pan meals are perfect for bulk cooking, and you can blend the leftovers into your hummus! Try this beautiful rainbow vegetable sheet pan meal.

4. Plan for Leftovers. Make enough to have a full meal of leftovers to take the pressure off cooking. Plan for a Thursday night Smorgasbord—pull out all of your odds and ends and leftovers out of the fridge to warm up and enjoy a variety of foods. 

You only need 30 minutes to prepare this tasty Thai Tofu Noodle Bowl.

5. Keep Meals Easy. Your meals don’t have to be an impressive affair taking hours to prepare. You can get a healthy, plant-based, delicious meal on the table in 30 minutes! It can be as easy as black bean tacos (heat up a can of black beans and serve with taco shells and toppings), hummus filled pitas (fill pitas with hummus and veggies), and tofu stir-fry (sauté cubed tofu with whatever veggie you have on hand). 

Although the process of planning and creating a meal may seem exhausting at times, we’re here to help. Check out these easy, quick recipes and collections—all under 30 minutes of prep time. Bring enjoyment back into your cooking!

Written by Kathryn Atkinson, Dietetic Intern and Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Photos by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

For other plant-based meal inspiration, check out:

Five 30-Minute Plant-Based Meals
13 Plant-Based Mason Jar Salad Recipes
Spicy Lentil Tacos
Black-Eyed Pea and Ancient Grain Frisee Salad


Image: Sharon celebrating her new book California Vegan, while cooking in her kitchen.

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