I'm going, to be honest with you, more often than not, I find it hard to enjoy cooking. In fact, I hate cooking, yet it is one of the most important things we do to take care of ourselves. That said, figuring out how to enjoy cooking is essential to eating well and saving more!
The financial component of cooking has deterred me in the past from really allowing myself to keep up with cooking for myself too.
I'll see a recipe and check my cupboards to realize I have little to none of the ingredients, and suddenly it feels like I have to drop a lot of money just to have a meal that'll last me a few days.
Finding ways to enjoy cooking that are also budget-friendly has been a challenge, but once I dedicated myself to this pursuit, it became clear how cooking can be fun (and tasty!) without breaking the bank.
Do you find yourself constantly saying, "I hate cooking?" Well here are some simple ways I did it, and if you're in a cooking rut, they might just work for you too.
5 Easy ways to enjoy cooking (Go from "I hate cooking" to "I love cooking!")
Read on to find out how to enjoy cooking without breaking the bank. Trust me, it's possible!
1. Redecorate and organize your kitchen
Amping up your cooking space to make it feel like your own is a total game-changer. My kitchen has always been the part of my apartment I neglect the most when it comes to decor.
It's no wonder being in it for any extended period of time was putting me in a sour mood. That is until I added some personal touches.
Adding organizational elements makes cooking less of a hassle and helps keep your kitchen tidy. Wandering around aimlessly in your own kitchen because you don't have an organization system is no fun.
You need a proper workspace in order to cook, and organizing is the first step.
Lots of organizational kitchen tools can be found at the dollar store, and you can even thrift shop to save money on decor and flatware and maybe find something unique to you that suits you and your kitchen’s vibe!
Here are some things I used to upgrade my kitchen (All found at the dollar store or thrift shops!)
- Picture frames
- Spice rack
- Patterned tea towels
- Labeled plastic containers for dry ingredients
- Coffee jar
- Fridge magnets
2. Meal prep
Meal planning on a budget is totally possible! And cooking meals in advance or making enough to have leftovers will deter you from spending on take-out on a night when you’re not up for cooking.
Pre-scheduling a “meal prep day” into your week can make it something to look forward to rather than a chore.
I hate cooking, and even I find joy in the simplicity of making a grocery list based on a budgeted meal plan and then spending an afternoon in the kitchen making delicious food that will save me from cooking every other night of the week when I'm tired and not up for it.
It gives you a chance to be creative with cooking and practice self-care. You're looking out for future you's wallet, health, and time.
3. Rework recipes from your childhood
Making the food that made you so happy as a kid is sure to bring back that childlike excitement of food, whether an old family recipe or a new and improved, homemade version of a staple from growing up.
Nurturing my inner child is part of my own total well-being plan. And resurrecting recipes from my childhood has played a huge part in that. I used to love grilled cheese and canned tomato soup for lunch as a kid, and honestly, I still do.
But I recently had some fun in the kitchen making it from scratch. I even used my grandma's bread recipe for the sandwich! And how can you not enjoy cooking when the result is as delicious as that?
Making the foods I loved growing up has probably been the most fun experience I've had in the kitchen lately. And I definitely think this could be your answer if you're struggling with how to enjoy cooking. That nostalgic feeling when you bite into your childhood favorites can help you dismiss that thought of "I hate cooking!".
4. Get inspired by cooking videos or TikToks
So what's an easy way how to enjoy cooking? Watch cooking shows and videos! Watching cooking videos always sparks my culinary creativity and curiosity.
Not only are they fun to watch, but they can be super motivating to get into your own kitchen and try things for yourself. Especially by having a visual to compare to.
Here are some of my favorite cooking channels and accounts:
Off Script with Sohla on Food52
In Off Script with Sohla, Sohla el-Waylly does just that. She goes off script and just takes the kitchen by storm cooking simple essential meals (like chicken soup) and making meals out of a few random ingredients you might have at home.
I love Sohla's calming, encouraging presence in the kitchen. I mean, how could I hate cooking with her in the back of my mind? Off Script always inspires me to get cooking!
@myhealthydish on TikTok
My Nguyen or @myhealthydish on TikTok is another favorite of mine. Just as it says in her bio, she makes food you already love but with a healthy twist!
@the_pastaqueen on TikTok
The utter Italian energy @the_pastaqueen on TikTok exudes is hard to ignore. She makes delicious Italian food and is such a star to watch.
She makes cooking even complex dishes seem attainable, and she is just downright fun (as cooking should be).
Eric Kim on NYT Cooking
Eric Kim is one of my favorite people to watch on NYT Cooking. He explores the connections between family, memory, childhood, and food.
That added "story" element really personalizes cooking for me. My favorite recipes of his are always his different methods for cooking Korean dishes.
5. Go plant-based for part of the week to save money
Not only could this be a new way for you to get creative in the kitchen, but many bases of plant-based meals are super affordable. For example, legumes and beans are protein-rich, cheap, and super versatile.
I always say I hate cooking, but going plant-based as definitely had positive effects on me. According to a recent study going meatless can shave $23 off your grocery bill every week.
And you don't necessarily have to go completely vegan to save some cash. There are plenty of options that are good for you, your wallet, and the planet, such as vegetarian or flexitarian diets.
Some affordable plant-based cooking essentials I always keep stock of:
- Canned chickpeas
- Canned black beans
- Nut butters
- Bell peppers
- Canned tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Pickled veggies
Some extra tips for a frugal kitchen
Any meal can be made more frugal if you try! Shopping for discounts and stocking up on things that will last a while (like spices) are good ways to start building up a more frugal kitchen.
I have a few tried and true methods that have helped me save on food spending:
Don’t hesitate to buy frozen fruits and vegetables
Fresh produce can be such a treat, but it can also be intimidating knowing you have to use it up in a certain amount of time. If you struggle with wasting produce, I'd recommend buying frozen fruit and vegetables. You can buy more at a time, and it will last longer!
Keep your snack pantry stocked
I don't know about you, but I am a major snacker. When I don't have snacks on hand, I feel totally lost. And I feel all the more compelled to overspend on delivery fees for a small treat or rush out to the grocery store and end up impulse spending on things I don't really need.
Keeping a stocked pantry of snacks is really important for me (I hate cooking, so of course, I love snacking).
Having quick things on hand, whether on the healthier side (think applesauce) or to satisfy my sweet tooth (chocolate chip granola bars), keeps me satisfied when I need a little bite.
Plus, pantry-friendly snacks last a long time, so I'm not replenishing them on every grocery trip.
Make a delivery budget
It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll never order in or eat out, and just because you start cooking more at home doesn’t mean you should never go out. It is more than okay if having a budget that works for you means having a budget that factors in spending on ordering food.
Having a set budget for restaurants will help keep your spending on food in check so you can enjoy those meals without financial guilt.
With these tips, I no longer hate cooking, and you won't either!
So with these tips, you can enjoy cooking and save money all at once! Cooking at home in itself is a great step to saving some money, and making it an enjoyable part of your week makes it even better.
And after implementing these methods into my life, I don't know that I can truly say I hate cooking anymore. I hope these tips are able to help you reignite the joy of cooking as they did for me!