Updated: Oct 17
How do you get motivated to cook when take out is calling your name? Sometimes it's hard, but I'll tell you how make it easier, one step at a time.
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.
There are three basic ways I make cooking at home more appealing than ordering out.
Get Motivated to Cook by Planning Ahead.
First, I 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 like Clean Eating, Cooking Light, etc. I love receiving glossy cooking magazines each month.
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 started filing my top go-to favs on index cards in a recipe box that sits on my counter. Each recipe is categorized and alphabetized so they're easy to find, whether it's breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. And bonus, with simple step-by-step instructions I can easily hand a recipe off to my significant other to take the lead. Who doesn't love having a little help in the kitchen?
Get Motivated to Cook by Prepping Ahead.
Second, I prep ahead!
Before you head off to work (whether your home office or an actual commute) defrost anything that needs defrosting. 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 350 degrees for the next hour and a half, which gives you plenty of time to do other things. You get the idea.
Another prep ahead tip is to start gathering your dinner ingredients while you're making breakfast. When you come home from work, the quinoa, black beans and spices will be on the counter, ready for action. You’ll have zero stress over what to make and half the work will already be done.
Do whatever you can ahead of time. I am a HUGE fan of Sunday batch cooking so my week nights are more about assembly than actual cooking. I pre-cook chicken breasts for the meat eaters in our home, batch cook grains, and roast or boil and mash veggies. I slice, dice, and chop anything that will keep. That way I just have to portion out existing ingredients and add spices to create a week’s worth of meals.
Get Motivated to Cook by Getting Inspired.
Third, I get inspired!
One of the things that keeps me out of the kitchen is feeling stuck in a rut so once or twice a month I 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 jump on Pinterest and scroll through fun and fresh ideas. And I get picky about ingredients. The fewer the better! If it gets too fancy, I'm less likely to make it. The pictures, descriptions and reviews usually motivate me to save a few to one of my Pinterest boards or print them out and have them on the counter to cycle into my usual routine.
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. New knives or a novelty can opener can up your fun quotient too. I have more kitchen gadgets than I can count and I use them all. They really do make all the difference and make cooking fun and easy!
Speaking of fun, music is universally inspiring. Make a killer playlist or rock your favorite station on Pandora or Spotifiy and rock out while you chop out. Put on some music that gets you happy and makes cooking dinner feel like a party. Most of us use music to inspire our workouts. Why not let your favorite tunes motivate you to cook too?
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 spinach 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 high 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.
Are you an ambitious man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where ambitious folks go for the tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!