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  • Shannon Crocker, MSc RD PHEC

Does cooking make you grumpy? {3 simple meal prep steps to make your kitchen a happy place}

two plates with stir fry

Does cooking make you happy or grumpy?

Cooking usually makes me really happy. I love to cook and creating a meal that everyone enjoys makes me especially happy. It just feels good to nourish others.

Having said that, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes it does make me grumpy.

I don’t love being rushed to get dinner on the table. You know that feeling, when you don’t have a lot of time, don’t know what to make and don’t have anyone around to help out?

Yeah. Grumpy.

Most people tell me that the biggest barrier to cooking is time, I’m going to guess lots of you reading this might feel the same way – at least sometimes.

To keep my kitchen a happy place during the week, I’ve got three strategies I practice (most of the time).

1. Make weeknight meals simple.

A meal that takes an hour and a half to create on weeknights doesn’t work for me.

At all.

Simplicity rules.

Salad. Stir-fry. Power bowls. Sheet pan meals. Pasta. Do-it-yourself sandwiches. Give yourself permission to keep meals easy. And, use some healthier convenience foods (e.g. store bought hummus, cheese tortellini) to save your sanity.

Right now I'm loving pre-packaged cruciferous slaws quickly stir-fried, drizzled with lime and sprinkled with sea salt and chili flakes. I add whatever protein that's quick like a stir-fried tofu or fried eggs.

Try a Power Bowl this week with these four easy steps!

power bowl

2. Do some limited meal planning and meal prep ahead of time (when you can).

Confession: I don’t spend hours on the weekend getting meals ready for the week.

Typically on Sundays I do a rough sketch of the week (Sunday to Thursday. Okay, Wednesday usually).

On Sunday. I prepare just a few things. I might wash and chop veggies or bake some muffins, make energy bites, perhaps create some overnight oats or soup if I’ve got more of time.

It really does help you get a nutritious meal on the table when you know what you’ll be serving and have a few basic staples prepped.

Make these energy bites to stock for healthy snacking:

energy bites

3. Practice the Cook Once, Eat Twice, strategy.

This is my favourite tip for managing mealtime mayhem.

To me, it makes a lot of sense: while you cook for one meal, you make extra and have a plan for how to make it into another meal.

Isn’t that just leftovers?

I see “Cook once, eat twice” as being different from leftovers. It’s not about eating the same meal, re-heated the next night – although it’s great if you enjoy that. But I’m talking about re-inventing one or more parts of a meal into a different meal altogether.

For example, when I make my Turkey Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce I make double the turkey. We enjoy the first half, warm, with the stir-fry. I refrigerate the second half and we enjoy it another night of the week on a salad or in wraps or power bowls.

Call it planned-overs or next-overs or whatever floats your boat. Regardless, it's a simple strategy that helps keep you happy in the kitchen.

turkey stir fry

Hope you find some happiness in your kitchen.

Vibrantly Yours,


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