I’m bored of cooking at the moment. Most of the time I enjoy cooking but now and again I just get fed up of it and it starts to feel like a real chore. So I’ve been thinking about how I can renew my enthusiasm.
I think I need a bit of a project; something adventurous to get me trying different things. But the answer to cooking boredom depends on your situation. Here are all the solutions I came up with…
1. Stop doing it
Perhaps you need a break. With lots of people working from home and kids being home schooled during the pandemic you might have found yourself doing a lot more cooking than usual. Can you take a break? Here are some ways to consider depending on your situation:
- Get somebody else to do the cooking for a bit. Could you at least delegate one evening a week to each member of the household?
- Eat things that only require minimal cooking, e.g. things on toast, crusty bread with cheese or dips, burger and chips from the freezer, or ready meals.
- Have your food delivered. Takeaway options have become more and more adventurous as lockdowns have gone on so, as well as traditional takeaway, a lot of restaurants are doing meals that you can reheat yourself at home or just require minimal ‘putting together’.
2. Cook your favourite childhood foods
Sometimes we get too sophisticated with our cooking and think that every meal has to be a culinary feat (and feast!). We forget about some of our simpler favourites.
Often what we liked as a child were simple foods, making them easy to prepare as well as being comforting to eat. I used to love a dish called ‘Noodle Savoury Munch’ which is cooked pasta mixed with peas and beaten eggs, put in a baking dish with grated cheese on top and baked until the eggs set (about 20 minutes). I also like rice mixed with red kidney beans – it’s what I had if my parents were having chilli!
3. Cook from a recipe book you don’t use often (or ever!)
I have so many cookery books that I rarely cook from. I’d like to think there aren’t any that I’ve never used but I could be wrong.
Last year my friend and I started the year picking a cookery book a month that we rarely used and cooking a recipe from it. We didn’t stick with it but during the months we did I made some good finds and cooked recipes I might have dismissed as being ‘too much of a faff’ without the extra incentive of our challenge.
You could even add an extra element of surprise to it by picking the book and then the page with your eyes closed!
4. Take a course
There are loads of online cookery courses these days. Here are just a few that I’ve had my eye on. I really fancy the Essential Vegan Desserts one but it’s on the pricey side!
- Wicked Healthy have lots of free classes on their YouTube channel
- My Brownble have a few courses including a vegan cheese course
- Veecoco vegan courses
- Forks over Knives
- Essential Vegan Desserts from Rouxbe
- Plant-based Professional Certification from Rouxbe (this one is top of the range!)
- The fab Vegetarian Society Cookery School have taken some of their courses online
5. Cook a cookery magazine – the whole thing!
I have a whole stack of Vegetarian Living magazines and this is something I’ve been meaning to do for years. We tend to gravitate to the same type of dishes – recipes that are similar to other things that we like and ingredients that we feel comfortable with – so I always thought it would be a good challenge to work my way through all of the recipes in a magazine.
Some of my all-time favourite recipes are ones where the whole turns out to be so much more than the sum of its parts: Leek and Chickpea Soup is a great example. If I just saw that recipe, it wouldn’t get me excited, but turns out I love it.
So my theory is, if you just cooked everything without second guessing what it was going to be like you’d probably find some real gems. I’m also sometimes put off by things that look complicated or time-consuming but once I get stuck in I’ll really enjoy doing it.
6. Learn a new technique
Add a bit of challenge to cooking and reawaken your enthusiasm by learning how to do something new. Ideas that spring to mind include:
- baking bread,
- making your own pasta,
- learning how to create cakes and pastries as beautiful as a Parisian patisserie window,
- making your own puff pastry (I always buy it ready made),
- making your own cheese – it could be vegan cheese (I came across this tasty looking recipe for macademia parmesan the other day and there are other vegan cheese recipes on there too).
7. Explore a new cuisine
You could choose a country or a specific style of cooking. I would really love to be better at Asian cooking but maybe that’s too broad. I already cook a lot of Indian but I could zero in on South East Asian cookery, like Thai, or Chinese cooking.
Here are a few things that are on my one day list in case they inspire you:
- Chinese or, more specifically, Szechuan
- Southern Indian and/or Sri Lankan
- Cajun (think Jambalaya, Gumbo, okra, celery, green pepper)
8. Get inspired by restaurant menus
I love doing this! Especially at the moment when our opportunities to travel are so limited. Choose a place, perhaps a place you dream of visiting or a place you have fond memories of, and use Google to explore the restaurant scene. Choose the restaurants you fancy and check out their menus. Recreate the dishes of your choice.
Here’s an example. I used to travel to the USA a lot with work and I loved California – and one of the things I loved about it was the variety of restaurants and the Californian way with food. With no trips to America imminent, I headed to Google instead and searched ‘vegetarian restaurant Hollywood’ (well might as well go to a stylish part of town :-)). I discovered Pura Vita and their lovely sounding vegan Italian menu. From there the Caesar Salad caught my eye – massaged Tuscan kale, roasted garbanzo, lemon almond dressing,garlic croutons, macadamia parmigiano – and I can start googling to find ideas for the different bits or just make it up from the description!
And if you want to add an extra dimension to your exploration you can use Google’s Street View to take a virtual walk to the restaurant. Hours of fun to be had in lockdown!
9. Make a plan
If you don’t usually plan your food and are always having to come up with things on the day you might have got yourself into a bit of a rut of always cooking the same old things.
Set aside an hour or two, indulge in some recipe browsing and plan out your next few days of meals. Just beware of being over-ambitious. I can get very excited when I’m sitting reading a recipe and looking at the pictures but after a busy day of work cooking something complex can be overwhelming and I end up doing nothing and getting a takeaway!
10. Try some new ingredients
I had salsify at the weekend for the first time (it’s a root vegetable in case you haven’t come across it) and it was really nice. For somebody who thinks of themself as quite an adventurous cook and eater, it amazes me that there are vegetables readily available in the supermarket that I’ve never cooked. Not many but there are a few. If you add in the vegetables available at some of the smaller shops specialising in food from different regions, e.g. we have lots of Caribbean, Indian and Middle Eastern shops where I live, then there is lots to try.
The other thing you can try to shake things up a bit are some different herbs and spices. I’ve just bought some Creole Spice Blend from Seasoned Pioneers. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet but it will give me a push to try something different.
Bonus idea! Set yourself a challenge
Whatever route you choose, you can always turn it into a challenge. Cook from a different country each week, use a different vegetable every day for a month, you get the idea. Some people will think this sounds silly – why do you need to do that? For others it really helps with motivation.
Take the ideas that work for you, leave the others, and I hope something here helps you to get your cooking mojo back and start having fun in the kitchen again.