How to Get Motivated to Cook When You’d Rather Dial for Dinner

How do you get motivated to cook when take out is calling your name? It’s hard but I’ll tell you how we stopped dialing for pizza and started eating healthier without missing a step.

How many of us have a list of take out restaurants at our fingertips at home and at the office? It often feels so much easier to reach for the phone and order pizza, Chinese, subs..whatever. So how can you get motivated to cook when all you want do is dial out for dinner?

First, you have to make it easy to make a healthy choice and second, you have to make it fun.

Justin tends to do most of the cooking in our house while I do the clean-up but there are three basic ways we make cooking at home more appealing than ordering out. 

First, we plan ahead.

I know, I know! It sounds awful and demanding and “how can you possibly plan a full week of dinners!” but let me tell you, meal planning is your friend! From your waistline to your pocketbook, your whole life is going to thank you for this small act of organization. And it can be really simple.

Pick seven meals. If they require recipes, find them online for free. It’s as easy as typing in “healthy recipes” into the Google machine and BAM you’ve got recipes. Or if you like receiving something in your mailbox other than bills and flyers for the local dry cleaner, subscribe to magazines lie Clean Eating, Cooking Light, etc. I love receiving glossy cooking magazines each month.  The glossy pictures make the food that much more appealing to try.

It’s one thing to have recipes and another thing to be able to find them quickly. After years of never knowing where my favorite recipes were stored, I finally got organized.  Brilliant idea, right?  I have a binder with page protectors that hold all the recipes I print or pull from magazines.

Second, we prep ahead!

Defrost anything that needs defrosting. Chef Justin will tell you cooking food that is fully defrosted will actually taste better.  There is no better motivation to cook the chicken than having a fully defrosted bird sitting in the fridge when you get home. Give it a quick rinse and a rub down with olive oil and herbs and it’s into the oven at 350º for the next hour and a half, which gives you plenty of time to do other things. You get the idea.

Do whatever you can ahead of time. I am a HUGE fan of Sunday batch cooking so our week nights are more about assembly than cooking. We pre-cook chicken breasts, ground turkey, and roasted veggies. We slice, dice, and chop anything that will keep. That way we just have to portion out existing ingredients and add spices to create a week’s worth of meals.  We also make soup and have it simmer on the stove while we are prepping our other meals.  Soup is great for lunch or dinner when you are short on time!

Third, we get inspired! 

One of the things that keeps us out of the kitchen is feeling stuck in a rut so once or twice a week we try something new. Try thinking of cooking as a creative outlet instead of a chore and you’ll be much more motivated to cook at home. One word of warning, don’t overestimate yourself. Getting too ambitious can actually kill your motivation to cook.

I like to take a few minutes to scroll through Pinterest to find new ideas. I only look at recipes with a 4 or 5 star rating and I’m picky about ingredients. The fewer the better! The pictures and descriptions usually motivate me to print out one or two and then I cycle them into our usual routine especially if I am the one cooking.

You can even try a new cooking toy. How about a spiralizer? If you don’t own one, these little gadgets turn things like zucchini into a pasta substitute that is tasty and low cal. Top it with almost anything and you’ve got a homemade meal heavy on the veggies. Although a fantastic tool they tend to be hard to clean – have your spouse clean it! Hehe  New knives or a novelty can opener can up your fun quotient too. And fun is always motivating!

Speaking of fun, music is universally inspiring. Make a killer playlist for cooking and rock out while you chop out. Put on some music that gets you happy and make cooking dinner a party. Most of us use music to inspire our workouts. Why not let your favorite tunes motivate you to cook too? It never hurts to bust out a move or two while cooking – extra calorie burn!

Another suggestion, theme nights.  Our favorite is Jamaican night with Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas, Callaloo and Rum balls.  We then have reggae music playing in the background and cheesy pineapple décor on the table from Party City.

The point is to take care of yourself with food.

Here are 5 reasons cooking at home trumps dialing out:

1) You’ll have more energy!

When you’re in control of the food you eat you can make sure you are getting energizing foods like broccoli, cabbage, and kale in your diet. Blueberries, dark chocolate, eggs, and fatty fish packed full of Omega 3s are all great for your brain. The nutrients in these foods actually supply motivation.

2) You’ll eat less salt!

In restaurants, chefs depend on fat and salt to boost flavor. On top of that, many chain restaurants use canned or frozen ingredients, loaded with salt and preservatives, as a base. And fast food is notorious for its sodium content because it’s such a quick, cheap, flavor-enhancing trick. When you cook at home you control how much and what kind of sodium you ingest. A sprinkle of sea salt at the table is so much better for you than a teaspoon of table salt in the restaurant kitchen.

3) You’ll eat healthy fats!

Instead of consuming trans fats and cheap, low-nutrition, high-calorie fats that damage your heart and make you fat, you can cook with good fats like olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil. Healthy fats help to form cell membranes and build bone. They increase calcium absorption and boost your bone health.

4) You’ll be less stressed!

Instead of thinking about cooking as a chore, start thinking of it as taking control of your life. Eating well is the cornerstone of good health. It’s also a creative daily activity that can help you focus, put things in perspective, relieve worries, and put you in an almost meditative state. Cooking is a great way to make yourself mindful.

5) You’ll save money!

The salmon and brown rice you prepare in thirty minutes at home costs about $5 per person. If that same entree costs $21 at your favorite restaurant and you serve four people, you can save $64 in one night. Ca-ching! Savings like that can add up to a great pair of shoes, a weekend getaway, or a dozen other “extras.”

Not everyone loves to cook. It’s a fact.

But everyone can find the motivation to cook.

Your health, your relationships, and your wallet all get a huge boost from a home cooked meal. So when you’re looking for motivation to cook over dialing for dinner, just remember to keep it simple and fun. The benefits you win just by putting down your phone and picking up your spatula should help keep you in the kitchen and out of your car.

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