A lot of people think they hate cooking. But as someone who used to count myself among them, I’m going to venture that at least part of the issue is not the cooking itself, but the cleanup.
And who could blame you? In a world with thousands of entertainment options at our fingertips (not to mention all the things we would normally be doing, you know, out in the real world), why would you want to devote precious hours or even minutes of your life standing over a sink scrubbing your own discarded food chunks? If you don’t have a dishwasher, the unique frustration of facing an Everest-sized mountain of filth is further amplified.
Then we come to another cooking obstacle: thinking of what to make that a) you have the ingredients for, b) isn’t hard, and c) doesn’t create yet another Mt. Filth. Or, you could just eat out, or order in, with an extra side of guilt for the money you know you could be saving. Because I know this vicious cycle all too well, below I’ve shared a few rules for cooking at home for anyone else who hates doing the dishes as much as I do.
1. Get a rice cooker.
I own this Aroma one that’s $32 and have used it approximately 1,000 times. Having a big Tupperware of cooked rice on hand in the fridge at all times is like an emotional security blanket because I know how much easier it’ll make completing any dish. If you don’t like rice…first off, who are you, because I can’t understand or accept you. But secondly, you can also use it to cook other grains, like quinoa or lentils.
Oh and also! If you want to take your rice up like five notches in flavor, you can throw in a little oil or butter, salt, and a bouillon cube right into the cooker before hitting “cook,” or use chicken stock (instead of or mixed into) the water.
2. Pre-chop your aromatics.
AKA the vegetables you’ll use as a base for most meals. For instance, if you’re making something that calls for onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, chop way more than you’d need for that dish and save the rest in a container for your next few meals. I sometimes chop these up in a food processor to make it even faster (which is a pretty good case for investing in a food processor, if you’re lazy in the kitchen, which I’m assuming you are. No shame.)
3. Make too much of everything.
The best way to avoid dishes? Don’t cook at all! The best and cheapest way to do this is with leftovers. If you can, always cook twice as much as you’ll eat and pop the rest in the fridge or freezer to save your future self a lot of work.
4. Two words: lazy produce.
Baby spinach or baby kale is the ultimate lazy produce.
Because you don’t have to chop them, you can just toss them willy nilly into any old dish, adding nary a single dish. Pasta, soup and scrambled eggs can all benefit from a fistful of good old Popeye fuel.
5. Shredded (or crumbled) cheese is the life of all parties.
If spinach is the friend who encourages you to work out even when you’re stuck at home, shredded cheese is the one who shows up to your place at the last minute with a bottle of bubbly to get the party started.
Takes all kinds. I think parmesan and pecorino are the most versatile, but crumbled feta or blue cheese are good standbys as well. If you don’t like the processed nature of the pre-shredded kind (I mentally debate myself about this as well), just shred a whole bunch at once and store in a sealed container for later. You can then bust it out to sprinkle on salads, noodles, veggies, chicken, and fish like magic flavor dust — especially good if your food is hot and melts the cheese a bit. (A fun fact you may not know is that some instant Korean ramen even comes with Mac n’ Cheese esque powdered cheese! Proof that it can truly go on anything).
6. Your oven is your best friend.
Why? Because if you line a baking sheet well enough with foil, you can get away with not washing it at all. This is excellent for roasting meat and veggies, and best of all, you can wrap up any leftovers directly in the foil.
7. Treat yourself to the finest dishwashing accessories.
Alas, even the most low-maintenance meal will call for at least one dish. But there are a few humble investments you can make that will make the experience significantly less unpleasant.
For starters, get yourself some top-shelf rubber gloves in your favorite color. Not only do they protect your lovely skin from the harshness of soap and scalding water, but they also allow you to wash your dishes without ever grazing anything gross.
Second, tie on a cute or funny apron to block the water that will inevitably splash on your midsection. And finally, but perhaps most crucially, don some headphones and cue up an A+ playlist or podcast.
Or better yet, call a loved one.
Annie Atherton is the Chief Operating Officer of The Financial Diet. She leads business development, partnerships, and marketing. When she’s not helping to ensure our company runs smoothly, she is reading, going for walks, and avoiding the dishes.
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