Today I want to keep sharing some simple and sustainable habits for creating a culture of happiness and wellness in your kitchen. We’ve already talked about three simple habits for nourishing your body, and today it’s all about nourishing your heart. Self care in the kitchen, as I like to call it.
We’ve all heard it said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. But what if it becomes a burden on your own heart? What if cooking and meal planning and grocery shopping is just really not your thing? What if you have internal struggles with food and eating? Or what if you love to cook, but the pressure to do so on a regular basis is just too much? I think we can all go through times where being in the kitchen puts a heaviness on our hearts. But I don’t think we have to leave it that way. With a little look inward to our own feelings, hesitations and desires we can turn the kitchen into a place where we feel loved and taken care of.
1. Don’t turn kitchen work into a one-man job.
Even as someone who loves to cook, it wears on my heart sometimes. And in these times, I have to make myself ask for help. Just like with anything else, you can easily become burnt out on planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning it all up. Then you’ve just got to do it all again next week. It can be tiresome when the work is falling steadily on your shoulders night and night again.
In most relationships, there’s usually the person who likes to cook and the person who gladly lets them. If you’re the planner and the shopper and the cook in your house, ask for help when you feel yourself starting to dread the work. Or better yet, set up a kitchen routine so that you never reach that place of dread at all. Our routine goes a little like this: My husband helps me plan meals by suggesting old favorites, dishes he’s been craving or Pinterest photos that look appetizing. I make the grocery lists and we do the shopping together as much as possible. I cook meals most nights, while he stays in the kitchen with me, usually cleaning as I go and sharing about our days. He even has the “husband dinner night” once a week when he’s in charge of the cooking. Maybe it’s not possible for your significant other to spend the evening beside you as you chop onions, but the point is the sharing of tasks. And if you’re not the primary cook in your house, ask what tasks you can take on to help ease the work.
2. Turn meals into experiences.
This isn’t to say that you have to start serving six-course meals on a nightly basis. And it doesn’t mean you have to start eating by candlelight on white linen. What it does mean is that you should try to incorporate some of your favorite restaurant indulgences into your own kitchen routine.
Think of date night. The whole evening gets turned into an experience. You put in the effort, you put away your phone, you focus on the food as well as your dinner mate. Many people consider “date night” a special occasion, which justifies the special treatment. But life is made up of a lot more regular ol’ Thursday nights than it is made up of special date nights. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking back at the life that my husband and I created for ourselves, I’d rather remember consistently happy home dinners than a few great dates.
Try something like putting your phone in another room from the very start of meal prep to the end of dessert. Start recurring dinner games or topics such as Mad/Sad/Glad or listing three things each person at the table is grateful for that day. Use real (not necessarily “fancy”) china instead of paper products, eat outside, or get into a habit of serving a small salad with every meal.
3. Create positive food/feeling connections.
As much as I’m opposed to negative, guilt-inducing food associations, I’m all in favor of positive ones. I think creating little food traditions throughout the day can help regulate your emotions and provide subconscious cueing to your head and your heart. A simple way to create these connections is to separate your meals, sips and snacks from your work or other tasks that consume your energy. For example, if you’re a morning coffee drinker, try allowing yourself a few minutes with nothing but your coffee and your breakfast before rushing headfirst into the day’s tasks. Or if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by mid-afternoon, take a few minutes away for a snack or a steaming mug of tea. Use this time of separation to savor, to pray and to simply feel your feelings.
Pretty photos are from Laken’s blog, Peach and Humble!
Laken is a writer and mentor living in the deep south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is passionate about making wellness a real and attainable thing in the lives of women — in a non-preachy, totally-manageable, real-life kind of way. Laken shares about real food and creating a good life at home over on her blog, Peach and Humble.