Cooking as Self-Care

Cutting board with vegetables

Self-care is a huge priority for me as I am navigating the grief process. Taking time for activities that allow me to relax is huge, because I haven’t been able to relax for a while. And while baths, face masks, and other relaxing activities are definitely a large part of self-care, I have also noticed that cooking is a form of self-care as well.

It feels weird to say, because I used to have a motto that if something took longer than 5-10 minutes for me to make, it wasn’t worth it. I would cook plain pasta, maybe add some salt and pepper, and call it a meal.

That has all changed over the last few years, this last year in particular. Now, I identify spending time to cook dinner or meal prep lunch for the week as time that I invest in myself to ensure that I am eating well — and often. (Some days, it’s amazing when I remember to eat three meals a day and not just live off coffee.)

Here are some of my thoughts on cooking and meal prepping as self-care.

Cooking Dinner

Sometimes when I shift from “work” to “home” the last thing I want to do is cook anything, especially if I have to go grocery shopping. (I haven’t accepted grocery shopping as a form of self-care yet, but I think I might someday.)

I’ll talk about it more later, but meal prepping ahead of time helps with that, and so does keeping a few staples on hand.

I always make sure I always have:

  • Vegetables
  • Butter and/or oil
  • Tortillas
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pasta
  • Meat
  • Salad dressings/hot sauce
  • Spices

Much like my mom, I rarely follow a recipe anymore. My method of cooking generally includes thinking about what type or flavor of food that I’m looking for, and making up a recipe based on whatever I have in the kitchen. 

Some of my favorite meals to make are:

  • Stir fry
  • Loaded nachos
  • Homemade crunchwrap
  • Homemade soup from veggie scraps

You can do so much with what you have to create a unique meal from simple and common items.

However, there are certainly times that I am feeling especially ambitious or a need to spend more time in the kitchen, and when that happens, I will actually look for recipes to follow.

My favorite food blog to get ideas and recipes from is called CleanFoodCrush.

Some of my recent favorites included:

Mango Blueberry Salsa (Recipe Linked)

Large bowl of salsa with mango, blueberries, onions, and other ingredients.

Blackberry Turkey Avocado Spring Salad with Lemony Poppyseed Dressing (Recipe Linked)

Medium size bowl of salad with lettuce, blackberries, Avocado, and poppyseed dressing.

Prosciutto Wrapped Caprese Bites (Recipe Linked)

Woman holding a plate of Prosciutto caprese  bites on skewers.

When I stopped looking at cooking as an annoying chore and started looking at it as self-care, meal prepping became a huge priority for me.

On days that I actually have time, like weekends, I spend a few hours preparing the meals for later in the week, so I am not scrambling each night. I can put on some music and dance while I’m cooking, or I can listen to my favorite podcast Wine & Crime, or listen to whatever is playing on TV, and make food for the week.

I am glad that as I got older I realized that my “5-10 minutes or less rule” wasn’t very effective. 

Once I started making meal prep a part of my routine and accepted cooking as a form of self-care, it became very relaxing and enjoyable.

Now I look forward to the time that I spend in the kitchen, and can’t wait to try something else new soon.

Published by allisonljensen

Marketing professional + event planner, grief and self-care blogger.

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