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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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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