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Cooking fatigue is a real thing and here’s what to do about it

WORDS BY BILLIE MYERS

If you’re eating a boiled egg for dinner, it’s probably time to mix things up.

I love cooking. As an anxiety-prone person, it’s one of the few times my brain truly chills out. Carefully following a recipe, meticulously chopping up some fennel, adding fragrant spices and tasting as I go – I find the process almost therapeutic (and a lot cheaper than therapy, so it’s a win-win).

But, as a pandemic is wont to do, I’m feeling fatigued, and it’s putting a bit of a dampener on the (now greatly reduced) time I spend in the kitchen. Sure, during lockdown 1.0 I was like every other cooking-obsessed maniac: baking bread, making handmade ravioli and spending more time staring into my oven than the television. But lockdown 2.0 has me feeling exhausted, and by my rough estimation, I’ve ordered more takeaway pizza and boiled more eggs in the last few weeks than I have in the last year. 

Generally, once you start having boiled eggs for dinner on the regular, you know something needs to change. So what’s a frazzled, cooking-fatigued individual like me to do? Ordering takeaways every night could be one route to go down, but we all know a) that’s hellishly expensive b) it’s almost always more unhealthy and c) most of the time takeaways just do not taste as good as home-cooked food. 

But because I cannot bear to look at another egg for at least a week, I’ve been trialling out a few tactics to get me back into the kitchen. If you too went a bit nuts during lockdown round one – forcing my housemates to pretend they were at a restaurant while I cooked them extravagant three-course meals takes the cake for me – and as a result have been avoiding your kitchen lately, maybe these tips will help you get your cooking mojo back. I should also note, Fashion Journal may sometimes receive payment for third party links placed. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recommend everything below with all my heart. As they say in France, bone apple tea!

Do a virtual cooking class

Cooking paella in Spain or whipping up pasta al pomodoro in Italy might not be literally possible right now, but thanks to the wonders of technology you can virtually transport yourself there. Airbnb has a huge array of classes available – including making Portuguese food with a drag queen! – and you can be specific and choose which city you’d like to cook in. You could be in Florence one weekend and Kyoto a few nights later, minus the jetlag and shitty airport food.

If you’re looking for something closer to home, there are loads of Australian chefs hosting classes. I’d recommend Angie Chong’s homestyle Asian cooking classes and Providoor and Broadsheet’s classes hosted by a selection of Melbourne’s top chefs. 

Throw yourself headfirst down the YouTube cooking video wormhole

Youtube is the ultimate timesuck, but damn, there’s a lot of good foodie content on there. If you’re not familiar with the food-centric side of YouTube, I suggest easing yourself into it with a glass of wine in hand and a few entry-level Bon Appetit videos –  two of my favourites are the arancini balls and the rigatoni with vodka sauce.

Locally, Melbourne chef and the founder of Juanita Peaches and Beatbox Kitchen, Raph Rashid, is dropping weekly episodes of his video series, Raph’s Mean Cuisine. Raph is joined by a different guest each week, including FJ’s favourite florist, Hattie Molloy, and together they recreate meals from the 1980s, the aim being to transform them into something you’d want to eat in 2020. Very fun and very much recommended viewing.

Start compiling an old-school, handwritten recipe book

Remember writing down a recipe? Neither, because up until the other day I’d never done it before. But I gotta tell you, our mums were on to something with the handwritten recipe books. Creating a curated collection of all your favourite meals will give you a newfound appreciation for them, will help you feel more connected to the cooking process, and it’s very satisfying knowing all your go-tos are in the one place.

But make sure only the best of the best make the cut – handwritten recipe books have a tendency to be passed down through generations, and you don’t want your grandchild cooking some embarrassingly average macaroni and cheese on your recommendation. Also, more than anything, I’m just really sick of referring to a recipe on my phone. Having to constantly jab at my lock screen with sauce covered fingers is not a vibe, and neither is the state of my phone post-cooking. 

Try a food box delivery service to push you out of your cooking comfort zone

Okay, so if none of the above has you rearing to go with a spatula in hand, I have one final, and perhaps a somewhat obvious, nugget of kitchen wisdom for you. Four words, baby: food box delivery service. Sure, they’ll save you time and money, but even better than that is the fact that it takes all the brainpower out of cooking, and brainpower is something we’re collectively in short supply of right now.

From first-hand experience (well, really secondhand, as it’s my housemate who has the HelloFresh subscription) I can testify that the meals are fresh, taste excellent and have me cooking things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise tried. There’s so little certainty in the world right now that I take strange comfort in the pre-prepared, perfectly measured out ingredients and the fact that I can’t mistakenly make my dinner inedible by adding a catastrophic amount of chilli flakes. And aside from the fact that it streamlines your time spent in the kitchen, their haloumi and oregano tacos are truly one of the best things I’ve eaten this year.

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