Diana Kelly Levey

How to Prevent Stress in the Kitchen

Women standing in a kitchen surrounded by wine and appetizers.

October 16, 2018 | Categories: ,

Some people say that cooking and being in their kitchen is their happy place. They call to mind positive family memories and meals served there. For others, the kitchen is a reminder of past failures — like burned dishes and failed recipes. The kitchen can also feel like a pressure cooker, and cooking may quickly feel more like a chore than an enjoyable experience.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Luckily, there are some things we all can do to feel calmer and happier in the kitchen.

Here’s how to reduce your time in the kitchen

1. Get organized.

You knew this tip was coming. It couldn’t be avoided. An organized, neat kitchen that’s free of clutter is going to be the first step when it comes to keeping stress at bay while you cook and throughout the day.

Research finds that women in dual-income partnerships who felt their homes were cluttered had increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, throughout the day. Creating an organized environment can also help you keep your waistline in check. Research finds that a cluttered kitchen or chaotic environment could cause you to eat more.

Do this: Dedicate at least 30 minutes this week to de-cluttering your kitchen counters and cooking surfaces. You could spend another 30 to 45 minutes each on cleaning out your fridge and getting your cupboards organized. This will help you have a better understanding of the foods you already have, which makes it easier when creating your food shopping list. Make sure you have sterilized surfaces to put food on during prep, as well as clean dishes and utensils before you start cooking prep work.

2. Read your recipe.

There’s not much more frustrating than making a “15-minute meal” recipe only to discover it takes at least 30 minutes — and many dirty dishes — to make. It can leave you feeling unprepared, or worse, incapable. Few cooks can sustain repeated blows to their cooking capabilities like this and still enjoy time behind the stove.

Do this: Read through any recipe before making. Be sure to note if there are additional, unforeseen steps (like making a specialty sauce). Make adjustments to the recipe if there are places you can cut time and effort — like swapping in different vegetables because you have those on hand, or looking for places where you can modify with a faster-cooking grain or use microwaveable vegetables to get dinner on the table faster.

3. Use kitchen time as a creative outlet.

Some cooks follow recipes to a T, while others use them as a springboard for inspiration and experiment with different ingredients, techniques, and flavors. I tend to be a stickler when it comes to following recipe directions, often because I’m afraid my modifications won’t turn out well. But I realize I could have more fun with cooking if I see my time in the kitchen as a creative outlet. That could mean trying a new recipe that takes me out of my comfort zone or (gasp!) swapping out a few ingredients for others I think would result in a delicious meal.

Do this: Research finds that spending time on creative goals throughout the day can have positive effects on our well-being. Think of kitchen time as your time of day to let loose from the constraints of rules and regulations. Do what makes you happy.

Read the full article on Allrecipes.

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