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10 Hacks That Can Make Cooking Easier (If You Hate To Cook)

If cooking is the last thing you wanna do, these tips could make things a little bit better.

Food & Drink

As someone who spent a few years living with her great-grandmother as an adolescent, a great-grand who insisted on giving cooking lessons on the weekends (whether I liked it or not), I know that my age (46 in June) is totally showing when I say that it floors me, how many women 1) don't cook and 2) could care less. As a marriage life coach, you might think that it has to do with domestication, but actually, as a single woman, I don't get why a lot of women don't want to do it for themselves. Cooking saves money. Cooking allows you to customize your dishes to make them just like you want it. Cooking is healthier too. But between a lot of the ladies who I personally know, along with an article I read that said 63 percent of millennials don't know what a butter knife looks like, 60 percent don't know how to make salad dressing and 25 percent don't know how to make a birthday cake from a box—I just know that the spirit of my late great-grandmother would want me to do something.

Now, if you're someone who is like, "Whatever, Shellie. Postmates was designed with me in mind," hey, do you, girl. But if you hate to cook but it's mostly because you never really learned how and you're totally overwhelmed at the thought of figuring out where to start, here are 10 hacks that could, in time, bring you to conclusion that you like your own homemade meals more than you thought you ever would.

1. Invest in Some Solid Cooking Utensils

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As someone who cooks, pretty much on a daily basis, I can tell you, straight up, that cooking is gonna suck for you if all you're working with is a frying pan, one cake pan and a mixing bowl. Yeah, you definitely need some utensils in your arsenal in order to make things easier for you. So, what should you have in your kitchen?

  • A good set of knives
  • A cutting board
  • A set of measuring cups and spoons
  • A variety of mixing bowls (different sizes)
  • A non-stick skillet (and eventually an iron cast one too)
  • Small and large saucepans
  • A vegetable peeler
  • A meat mallet
  • A slow cooker
  • A colander
  • Some wire whisks (they also come in different sizes)
  • A pizza pan
  • A few baking sheets
  • A glass casserole dish
  • An electric mixer
  • A blender

I already know that some of y'all read that and was like, "See, that's why I don't feel like cooking in the first place. Just look at that list." But no one is saying that you've got to get everything at the same time. Plus, a lot of these items are not very expensive at all; many, you can even cop at the grocery store. And again, I promise you, if you've got them in your possession, it will make cooking (almost) a breeze. (By the way, this list pretty much only scratches the surface. If you want to check out more things that a lot of regular cooks own, check out "Essentials List: 71 of the Best Kitchen Cookware, Utensils, Tools & More".)

2. Accept That Prepping Is Probably What Bothers You Most

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I won't lie to you. When it comes time for me to make something, if anything makes me roll my eyes, it's the prepping part (well that and sometimes all of the clean-up that's required). In fact, if you are a recipe-reading kind of person (I'm not so much), you might notice that the prep time can take as long as the cooking time, if not longer. But again, if you've got the right cooking tools, that can take a lot of the stress out.

Some other things that can make prepping easier include—reading recipes in their entirety before you begin; not feeling like you've always got the peel the skin of fruits and veggies (squash, sweet potatoes and carrots are just some of the foods that taste great with the skin on, if you roast them); making sure your pans are hot rather than cold before putting your ingredients into them; cooking dried beans in mineral water (they'll cook faster that way if you do) and definitely cleaning up as you go.

Oh, and if chopping fruits and veggies is what you absolutely loathe the most, I've got a couple of DIY videos that can offer you a couple of tips and tricks. The fruit one is here; the veggie one is here. You can also gain some basic knife skills here.

3. Don’t Procrastinate

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If all you do is lay around, saying to yourself that you hate cooking, not only is that going to program your mind to always have that mindset but you're not gonna get anything done. A way to avoid procrastinating is to schedule a window in your day when you're going to cook. For most (beginner's) meals, all you need is 60-90 minutes, tops. When you think about the money you're about to save (because cooking is cheaper than eating out), how much healthier the meal will be over restaurant dining, and the pride that you will feel for making it yourself, it will definitely be time well spent.

4. "Cook Like Costco"

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What the heck do I mean by "cook like Costco"? I've got people in my world who treat Costco like it's Six Flags or something. Of course, they like it so much because they can buy in bulk which makes things so much more convenient. Well, if you know that you hate to cook, why not "cook in bulk"? What I mean by that is, rather than torturing yourself by setting out to prepare homemade meals on a daily basis, instead, choose a day to knock out 3-4 dishes. For instance, right now, I've got some mac 'n cheese, some fajita meat and a casserole in my fridge. For the mac, all I need to do is heat up some veggies and maybe bake some chicken breasts (which is nothing). For the fajita meat, I just need to pull out my tortillas and add some diced tomatoes, black beans, lettuce and cheese. The casserole can basically stand on its own. Whatever I want to eat, I can just warm it up in the oven and I'm good to go. I don't have to think about cooking again—unless I want to—for another 3-4 days or so.

5. Start with Super Simple Recipes

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Don't be out here feeling like you've got to be a four-star chef overnight. That is putting more stress on yourself than you need to. Shoot, just recently, I watched a video on how to make some butter swim biscuits. Not only did they only require seven ingredients, they were super easy to make too. So was the end result of a smothered cabbage (without pork) recipe video. Oh, and something else that was fun to make is "Popeyes Chicken Sandwich/Copycat Recipes". As far as finding recipes online, all you need to do is go to your favorite search engine and put "easy recipes" in the search field; you will find a ton. Or, you can do something that I think will be a lot more enjoyable for you. I'll get to that in the next point.

6. Watch a Monitor While You Do It

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All of the recipes that I just referenced? They weren't written recipes; they were videos. When you are watching an expert breakdown how to prepare a particular dish, it can make following along so much easier (the time will go by faster too). YouTube is chocked full of video recipes (including ones by Black chefs and master cooks). All you need to do is position your laptop or smartphone next to you and "play and pause" as you go along.

7. Try a New Dish Each Week

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There are a few people in my life who absolutely hate leftovers. As a marriage life coach (and journalist), I like to dig beneath the surface. Come to find out, some of them do because they were poor growing up and had to eat the same stuff over and over again. In response to that information, sometimes I will look for something new and/or exotic to make for them. It can make cooking even more fun and rewarding for the preparer as well as the one who is eating what's been made.

If one of the main reasons why you hate to cook is because you find it to be BORING, challenge yourself by deciding to take on a new kind of dish every week. If nothing else, it will encourage you to do something that you never have before. You might even be pleasantly surprised by the end results.

8. Entertain Yourself

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Unless you just totally suck at multi-tasking, use your cooking time to binge-watch a television program or watch a movie. Or you can put on one of your favorite Spotify playlists. Or you can put your phone on speaker and catch-up with a friend or two. No one said that being a good cook means that you have to move around in silence or that you've got to bore yourself to tears. By entertaining yourself in the process, you won't even notice how much you're getting done. Before you know it, your meal will be ready.

9. Find Your “Incentive”

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Your incentive for cooking more can kind of run the gamut. Maybe you want to save money. Maybe you want to eat healthier. Maybe you want to get your nosey auntie who brings up the fact that you can't cook at every family function off of your back. Maybe you want to impress your girlfriends. Or, maybe you want to surprise someone special in your life (because few things are more romantic than a candlelight dinner or indoor picnic at home). Whatever it is, by having an actual incentive, that can motivate and inspire you to cook; even if not daily, at least more often than you currently do.

10. Reward Yourself

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Reward means "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc." and yeah, if you hate to cook, doing it can feel like a straight-up hardship; at least for a while. If you decide to push through and make some homemade dishes anyway, reward yourself for doing that.

Pick up your favorite bottle of wine. Get a dessert that you really like. Do something that will make you feel good about the decision that you made to DIY some dishes. Once you've got a month down of cooking some stuff, even if it's just one meal a week, I'm thinking that you'll start to have a more positive outlook on it. Hey, my great-grandma and your auntie will at least be happy. Baby steps, sis. Baby steps.

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