How to Simplify Cooking

I’ve never enjoyed cooking, not even when I was younger.

That’s why, instead of learning how to cook, I spent hours writing.

That’s just me.

Now that I’m older and have a family, my lack of enthusiasm for the culinary arts can be disappointing. I want to enjoy cooking. Seriously, I’ve tried.

But once I get going, my anxiety level rises, the food refuses to do what I want, and then I remember why I dislike it so much. Plus, I’d rather be working on my books.

Problem though: I love to eat good food.

So I really want the best of both worlds: great food with minimal effort.

Here are some ideas I came up with that will work for me. Can you add to the list? DO IT in the comments below.

How to simplify cooking

  • Simplify your menu. One entree, one side. 
  • Better yet, create one pot meals. Try these sites for ideas:
  1. Crock Pot Ladies
  2. Food Network/One Pot Meals
  3. 45 Speedy, Savory Soups and Stews
  • Lean on your resources. I’m great with sides, not so great with entrees and meat. Mr. Right is! I’m going to join forces with him more often.
  • Buy fruits and veggies that don’t require prep work. Sugar snap peas, baby carrots, radishes, mushrooms, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, apples. No cutting or peeling required! Simply rinse and enjoy.
  • Invest in a rice cooker for no-fuss, no-fail rice, every time.
  • Utilize your grocery store’s deli for pre-made pasta salads, dips and sides. This will cost a bit more, but if you can afford it and dislike cooking, I vote yes.
  • Buy a large butcher block cutting board you never have to put away. I love this feature of my kitchen! It’s steadier than a plastic board and looks cool.
  • Weekly menu. Jot down seven dinner items and make them on whatever day you desire. This helps avoid last-minute trips to the grocery store.
  • Store tools within reach. I keep my utensils in a holder by the stove. Remember, you don’t need everything you own in the open – stick the utensils you use weekly.
  • Hot sandwich night (big kids build their own). Assortment of meats, cheeses, vegetables, condiments. Add chips and fruit. Everyone gets exactly what they want on their sandwich, so there is no fighting.
  • Keep a list of easy chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and soup recipes. Then when something goes on sale, making a meal plan is really easy.
  • Savor meals created by those who LOVE to cook. This is by far my favorite tip on the list! I don’t have to “do everything.” I don’t have to love to cook, or even be good at it. Instead, I can celebrate those who do it well, and raise a glass of wine in their honor. Cheers!
Photo by Lupo Lupo

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.


1 Kel July 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

This post made me laugh because it sounded just like me! I have hated cooking my whole life, even when I was young and single. Thanksgiving is a holiday I despise-its all about cooking, expectations, and perfection…yuck!

Nothing I’ve tried (and I have tried SO many things to be a “better” cook) seems to make it worth my time. To make matters worse I’ve recently been diagnosed with some food allergies. Like I needed one more thing to complicate my cooking woes! Lol

I have utilized many of your suggestions here. The very best things that worked for me were:
1. Instant food. Just plain old food that you can eat without peeling, etc. just like you suggested above.
2. Buying easy to grill or bake meats that my husband is willing to take care of and I make a side, also as you suggested!
3. The one pot meal is the best!! One of the few things I enjoy making is soup. So finally I decided I’m going to become the soup and salad expert in my home home. If the fam. Wants something different than that they are on their own!
Thanks for the sound practical advice.

2 Teresa July 4, 2013 at 9:50 am

I love this list! Simplicity in the kitchen is so important.
Another tip I rely heavily on is freezing. I like to make big batches whenever possible- especially soup because it is usually so easy- and freeze the extras in multiple containers so we have yummy home cooked meals ready to go later(don’t forget to label containers with the name and date!).
I also buy a lot of produce precut when possible – it makes stir fry nights a snap.
Great tips – thanks!

3 Melissa July 11, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thanks, Teresa! These are great additions to the post.

4 Stephanie November 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Your article makes perfect sense to me. Thanks!

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