Last Updated on September 28, 2020
Has life in the kitchen become tedious? Does the rush to get dinner on the table, coupled with an hour spent scrubbing and cleaning up afterward, sap all of the fun out of cooking?
You’re not alone. But dinner doesn’t have to be such a downer.
So, we’ve decided to compile some easy, totally doable ideas for keeping cooking at home fun. In our list, you’ll find ideas like:
- Cooking with your kids or spouse
- Filling your kitchen with your favorite finds
- Meandering through the farmers market instead of the grocery store
- Cutting down dishes to a minimum
- Trying new food challenges
- And more!
We hope this inspires you to get in the kitchen and enjoy yourself. Happy cooking!
1. Make it a family (or friendly) affair.
One way to grow bored of cooking? Doing it all on your own, night after night, followed up by a sink full of dishes. Whether you’re burnt out or just want to spice things up, get your family or friends involved in the kitchen.
If you have little ones, they can be kitchen helpers, and they’ll probably love the novelty as much as you. Older kids can take on even bigger roles in the kitchen. Or, cook with your spouse and get some quality time out of it.
You could also invite a friend over and make it a hangout sesh (in person or virtually—they could also make the same meal over a call with you), complete with a delicious dinner.
2. Fill your kitchen with your favorite things.
We spend so much of our lives in the kitchen, it should be a space that feels inviting and comforting. So, fill it with your favorite things, whether that’s scores from your travels or colorful backsplash. A fridge full of adorable photos of your kids counts, too.
On the same note, it’s always more inviting to cook in a clean kitchen, so go ahead and tidy up when you can.
3. Turn up the music!
Whenever life gets a little monotonous, I host a dance party with my preschooler. It breaks up any tension and boredom real fast.
Bring those same vibes into dinnertime while you cook. Put on your favorite album for an instant way to perk up the chore of cooking. The dancing is up to you.
4. Try the farmers market instead of the grocery store.
When we visit the same grocery store, week after week, it can feel like a chore. This is especially true when we’re trying to squeeze those shopping trips between hectic workdays and the kids’ extracurriculars.
All of that takes a lot of intention out of the food we’re choosing to cook. It’s totally understandable to pick up the same food you always do, but for a more mindful experience, visit the farmers market.
Farmers markets tend to make us slow down, sample foods, and meander through all the artisanal offerings. You’re bound to find something novel and delicious to cook up, too.
5. Cut down on the dishes.
Doing the dishes is the absolute bane of my existence. Can you relate? It certainly takes the fun out of cooking.
To minimize the time you spend scrubbing, try making one-pot meals. Here are some of our favorites:
- One-Pan Cod with Tomatoes and Corn
- One-Pot Cheeseburger Pasta
- Ground Pork Fried Rice
- Cast-Iron Skillet Meatloaf
- Quick Beef and Kidney Bean Chili
- One-Pot Chicken and Spanish Rice
6. Replicate your favorite restaurant meal.
What’s your favorite meal from a restaurant? It is an impeccably juicy ribeye served with mashed potatoes and a wedge salad? Or, do you love simple pork and ramen noodle? Maybe a curry from a local Indian food shop?
Whatever you love most when you’re eating out, try replicating it at home for a fun kitchen adventure. You can research recipes online, or even ask your favorite restaurant for tips to prepare this meal at home.
Just be prepared for some vague descriptions—they might be protective of their recipes, after all.
7. Each week, try a new food item.
If you feel like you’ve hit a rut and make the same foods over and over, here’s a fun challenge. Each week you head out to buy groceries, commit to trying one new food. It could be a new fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried, or a seasoning or sauce you’re unfamiliar with.
Aim to do this for as many weeks as it’s still fun!
8. Transform your leftovers.
Having a leftovers night is an excellent way to minimize food waste, but if you’re not looking forward to eating the same thing again, try transforming them.
This is especially easy with protein. Do you have some leftover turkey or chicken? Here are some ideas for transforming those leftovers into a completely new meal:
- Leftover Turkey Hash
- Leftover Turkey Chili
- Autumn Leftover Turkey Stir Fry
- Leftover Turkey Curry Soup
- One Pan Leftover Turkey and Rice
(These are turkey-heavy—for the fall—but leftover chicken can replace turkey in many of these recipes.)
9. Whip up something nostalgic.
What did you grow up eating that brings you absolute comfort?
Channel those vibes in your kitchen by whipping up a nostalgic meal. Our earliest kitchen memories come from our families, after all. For us, nothing says nostalgia quite like a good meatloaf.
10. Sip on your favorite cocktail while you cook.
The reason our time in the kitchen sometimes feels like a chore is because we often feel stressed and harried to get dinner on the table. Making cooking enjoyable is all about slowing down and enjoying the process.
So, pair your kitchen time with a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail to sip on. Be sure to drink in moderation, of course!