Honesty time: cooking is not my favorite thing to do.
I am growing in meal-creating knowledge, hallelujah, and I’m truly happy to serve my family this way. But meal planning, grocery shopping, preparation, wisdom to use ingredients with completely different recipes…. not necessarily a fountain of joy for me.
I confess I even ask God for help in this area. He’s Provider and Helper, so He’s gracious.
Here I share a few small changes I made tin my role as Predominant Meal Creator in our home:
I always try to start with an empty sink and dishwasher.
This didn’t hit home with me at first.. until the first few days I implemented it. Then I told J it’s a new kitchen rule. It seems tedious to clean before you start cooking, knowing you will ‘dirty up’ many more dishes, BUT it’s worth it when you can chop or prepare and immediately put a dish into the dishwasher, out of sight.
I’m a (although not perfectly executing) clean counters are happy counters girl. I’m also the girl who likes to clean up as much as possible before J and I get settled in on the couch reading or watching a movie, to eventually fall asleep there, and mosey our way to the bed. No one wants to clean the kitchen at 10:30pm. No one in our house anyway.
If cooking for a group, I do my best to chop + prep all ingredients possible the night before.
This showed up loudest when preparing dinner for our small group. Working all day to come home for a group of 10-12 to arrive at your house within the hour? It’s super helpful to make a dent in the meal prep at some point before this time of day, so we don’t feel rushed or stressed to get the meal ready by the time friends arrive. Usually this means chopping ingredients, or laying out the bowls and tools needed for the meal before we leave for the work in the morning.
Use a bowl on the counter for trash when chopping ingredients.
This one I learned from a friend. Even better, I usually keep the trashcan near me to easily slide trash off a cutting board or the counter. This one is especially for us clean-as-we-cook types.
Group tasks together.
This took me a minute to gather an explanation. I’m all about efficiency, it can be both a strength and weakness, I think. If I get home from 2 hours out and about and I’ve forgotten something I meant to do, I’m definitely not hopping back in the car at that moment — I’ll accomplish that sucker another day. When it comes to cooking, it alleviates pressure for me to group tasks together. I chop everything I can while I have the knife and cutting board out, or I measure out all the dry ingredients in bowls together or I use a part of the counter entirely before I clean it to move on to another aspect of the recipe. This one might be a weird Chelsea one, but it’s helpful.
Think of chopping or prepping as quiet, thoughtful, prayer time.
This one can be more challenging, because sometimes you’re flying in from work, stomach growling, and want to make a nice meal really fast. But, more enjoyment came when I told myself I could go slow. When I gave myself the permission to take my time, enjoying the chopping, the colors, the flavors, I found the situation happier. I used to fill cooking time with music or show or podcast, but quiet has changed the game. It’s now time to unwind, to let my mind wander, to meditate on God, to say thanks, to think about life’s details. I struggle to give myself this unhurried time, but meal prep is becoming a wonderful opportunity for it.