How to overcome the dinner struggle: Step one

October 09, 2014

It’s 4pm. There is nothing in the fridge. You are beginning to feel anxious about what to cook for dinner.

I know this feeling, because I’ve been there.  Too. Many. Times.

I spent years of on the job learning the systems and techniques around cooking that made meal planning easier.

Mastering the monumental task of feeding yourself delicious, healthy food every day isn’t a job we naturally know how to do.

Like anywhere we want to become efficient, learning the systems around how to make fast healthy meals is a multi-step process.

And let me tell you a secret: it doesn’t start with cookbooks.

Cookbooks, food blogs, the food network.  This is food porn. This is what we look at for inspiration.  On occasion we may cook a new recipe especially if we love to cook. But this is only a small step in the process.

So, what the hell is the process, and how do you learn it?

Today I’ll start with step 1.  How to overcome the dinner struggle. I don’t want to overwhelm you with information. Eventually the bigger picture will begin to make sense so stick with me even if you can’t see it now.

The first step is creating your food map.  Everybody has one.  It’s a chart of the foods you like.

Sounds simple enough. Maybe too simple. But without having a clear picture of what you like, how can you strategically plan your meals?  Say you like fish. Salmon. Snapper. Cod. But you cook chicken every night because that’s what you know, and you never think outside of that realm.

If your list includes broccoli, kale, asparagus, and cabbage – then it becomes clear which vegetables to buy on a weekly basis. It becomes clear that you need to find interesting ways to prepare these vegetables.

Do you eat lamb?  Shrimp?  Pasta?  Which shapes of pasta?  Rice?  What types of rice – basmati, jasmine, red or black, sushi rice?

What types of dishes do you lean towards:

Curries, stews, stir-fries, steak + potatoes?

Which ethnic foods do you lean towards:

Mexican, Japanese, Middle-Eastern?

Doing this step will help you:

  • Understand how to stock your pantry + fridge so you can make meals from scratch more easily
  • Jog your creativity when you’re stuck in rut

This is step one. I will expand on step two in my next blog post.

There is a reason I don’t have a food blog.  Yes, you will get my best recipes.

But recipes are only a small part of this equation. And mastering organization around your food life comes first.

You don’t need to be a chef to learn to feed yourself well.

You need a roapmap to develop efficient systems around your food life.

So there’s Step 1 in how to overcome the dinner struggle. If you’re struggling with a specific thing in your food + cooking life, I’d love to hear more and see how I can help!

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