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Cooker's Slump

Have you ever felt like, you don't want to cook or even think about food? I'm going through that, my kitchen is aggravating me and I just want to go grab a can of spam and a spoon and call it a meal.

So have you ever felt like that? And what did you do to get over it. It's really frustrating.

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  1. Whenever I get that way (which is regularly) I just stop cooking. I spend the next few days not really eating meals, but just snacks. It's usually bad however. (burger king, 7-11 treats, taco bell). Usually after 2 or 3 days I snap out of it and cook something really nice. I think I enjoy the creation aspect of cooking more than the eating.

    1. >>>
      I just want to go grab a can of spam and a spoon and call it a meal.

      I don't think I have ever been *that* desperate.

      1 Reply
      1. re: al b. darned

        i've never bought spam, so have no idea that's it's edible with a spoon. really? or is that that kind of secret eating while slumped over the sink and home alone kinda thing? lol.

        i rarely feel like cooking just for me, and dinner time i'm alone a few nights a week. i usually will have made a batch of something i can reheat or will just have grilled cheese or salad. or skip the meal and have wine and olives and nuts. or go out.

        maybe the op is just bored from making the same dishes and needs a new challenge. if you enjoy cooking and eating, the jones will return, don't worry!

      2. When I'm too irritated or tired to make a whole dinner, I will often make pancakes for me and my DH. If I am really too tired we go out.

        1. I wouldn't worry about it. When I don't feel like cooking I eat alot of cereal or peanut butter toast or eggs. Eventually the desire to cook returns and all is well. I had cheerios and bananas for supper tonight because no one else was going to be here. Fig bars for my dessert.

          That said, to get in the mood I'd look at cookbooks, cooking shows, or go out and eat something really delicious. Something really nice that gets you thinking of good foods again. A trip to the farmers market might get you back in the saddle, too.

          In the meantime, enjoy your Spam. :)

          1. I agree with Fern; sometimes, you just don't feel like doing the cooking (again). I have a freezer full of food in the freezer from meals that I'd made just too much of, or we have cereal or sandwiches, or we go out. (Sometimes it's really nice to have someone else do the cooking AND the cleanup).
            Like she also said, go to the farmer's market, check out the food channel, or go through the local bookstore's cookbook section. My favorite: go to a restaurant supply store and poke around!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Michelly

              oh another like me!
              The restaurant/kitchen supply store is my death! I walk in and feel like trying all the utensils/plates/gadgets... "hmm, but i don't have a pie plate of this particular size... i must need it!"
              Inspirational, yes. Costly... even more so!

              1. re: alixium

                totally off topic, but put me in a cake supply store..."hmmm, but I don't have that particular shade of yellow petal dust... or that size leaf veiner" VERY costly indeed.

                "what do you do when you don't feel like cooking?"
                uh... ask my boyfriend to make me something, usually works!

                the problem is what do I do when I can't decide what to eat?
                usually, at junk for a few days until I'm cranky and sickly, then eat soup for a day. not healthy!

            2. Why make it a chore? Get the healthiest food out that's within your budget and wait till you get interested in cooking as a creative process again.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Cinnamon

                Well, C., if you have little kids, it can definitely be a chore. While I'd sometimes be happy with a glass of tempranillo, a fresh loaf of sourdough, some garlic olive oil and anchovies, I STILL have to make a square meal for the little one. And on a school night, I can't just grab a jacket and go spend 2-3 hours at some nice restaurant (there's the School Night Dance; getyourpajamastakeyourshowerbrushyourteethleavethecatalonegotobedgotoSLEEP...etc. Until she can herself cook, on the nights where I just don't feel like it, it's fast, one-bowl meals (mac&cheese with peas or broccoli, dirty rice with spinach, or something from my or TJ's freezer).
                Hey, we all need a break sometimes, even from the things we love the most.

                1. re: Michelly

                  I don't know where you live, and I do understand that having small kids can be a challenge. In L.A. we have a lot of healthy options that are inexpensive for take-out, ordering in, etc. etc., and plenty of healthy options for little-kid meals that are easy to put together, including from TJ's as you mentioned.

                  It can be more practical, time-wise, as long as you have nutrition in mind and know where the values are, to not make yourself cook when you don't want to. In some other cities or outside cities, it can be less practical to not cook for awhile.

                  I would go get the healthiest food out that's within my budget, whether picking it up, ordering it out or stopping with the little one at a little-one-friendly establishment, and either make a quick meal from healthy things for the tot at home or make sure I went to someplace that had food they liked.

                  This is different from a dress-up-and-go-out evening.

                  1. re: Michelly

                    The "girl cheese sandwich" (I can't yet convince her the word is "grilled") is very popular in our house for pretty much all 3 meals! I use the bread and cheese we normally stock, which means whole wheat and old cheddar, so I figure it's reasonably healthy & good quality. Then I can eat cheese and crackers, a quick salad with some protein thrown in, or whatever I scavenge from the fridge.

                2. That does happen to me, and I find that browsing through cookbooks tends to inspire me to get going again.

                  1. I never cook/bake/step in the kitchen if I'm not in the mood. Sort of like going to a concert with ear plugs-why bother.

                    Those times when my kitchen appears less inviting, I grab a take out menu, call a few friends and open a bottle of wine....and my dear hubby takes over kitchen detail with our kids.

                    Hey even a CH needs a day off.

                    1. Cereal, frozen dinners, and scrambled eggs can go quite a long way towards solving the Cooker's slump. After a few days you'll start thinking 'I miss X, Y and Z' and then you'll be ready to make it again!

                      1. Sometimes when I feel like this (fairly regularly) I'll start thinking of a project or trying something new. For instance, this weekend I made jam which reinvigorated my cooking desire. Picking peaches at the local orchard led to jam, which led to also attempting grapefruit marmalade with some fruit I got from my mom's tree, which led to making candied grapefruit peels (yum!). I spent last week reading all about the bento lunch box fad which led to trying to make lunches for myself to take to work that used up things in the fridge in a creative way but were still lovely and tasty at the same time, rather than just throwing some leftovers in a container and eating that. In other words, I try to do something out of the ordinary to get the creative juices flowing again.

                        When all else fails, there are nights where dinner = a bowl of cereal. ;)

                        1. This really hits home. I have been in a "slump" for about 2+ months now. I love cooking and food but for some reason my brain has just checked out on wanting to think about "what's for dinner". I don't have kid's, haven't been called into work for a few months, not depressed (trust me, I've been through clinical depression) and yet I just have lost all motivation/inspiration for meals.

                          I honestly think this is only a small contributing factor because it's existed for 20 yrs. but part of it is that Hubby and I rarely enjoy the same meals equally. His favorite meal is my chicken parm and he could eat it twice a week, I really like it but only about once a month. I love my carbonara which I only indulge in maybe twice a year, he seems to really like it (except that one time I added one too many eggs ;P) but never want's it when I do. He loves any chicken fajitas I make while I am still in search of the elusive perfect recipe.

                          Okay, being my own armchair shrink I'd say that could be the major contributing factor, not so minor. EXCEPT, we've always been that way and I'm equally uninspired for my own lunches. I got's no clue, maybe it's a food fugue. Like Elaine on Seinfeld "How come I don't know no Portuguese?". Have I cited that before? If so, must be the fugue.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Alicat24

                            Just curious--are you OK with other activities in your life? Could you just need a vacation or a long weekend off? Do you need to feel that your DH really likes your cooking?

                            If you feel he has been and continues to be too critical, ask him to take over cooking for a few weeks. You can do cleanup. Maybe a change in chore assignments would be helpful.

                            Or you can do a little research to find a couple of new recipes to try. Use ingredients you have always liked or want to try.

                            If you can't summon the will to do anything, do consider whether you have a severe case of the blues.

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              I appreciate your concern sueatmo, really I do, but I am not depressed. Thankfully I have been completely depression free for about 9 yrs. now, but I have been there done that with many med's, hospitalization, etc. so I speak from experience.

                              My slump really only is with cooking. Everything else in my life is peachy keen. I'm not sure where you got the idea that my hubbie is critical, I thought it was clear that we just for the most part don't share the same tastes and it is not a new issue.

                              When I am working, both of us clean. We also cook together and enjoy it immensly, but when I am not working and he is I certainly don't expect him to share cooking duties or chores. It may be different if we had children but we don't.

                              I have cookbook's coming out of my ears as well as the internet. None of those issues are my problem, I don't know what is, I just have no inspiration for what to cook. It's not that I don't want to cook or lack a plethura of options or aren't cooking everyday, I just don't want to "think" about what to cook lately.

                          2. "I just want to go grab a can of spam and a spoon and call it a meal."


                            Huh? How do you eat Spam with a spoon? For me, it's always been ... insert Popsicle stick, lift from can, and eat.

                            1. It's nice to hear of others' cooking slump. I had one last week where I just Did Not Feel Like Cooking. For about 3 or 4 days. Ordered out. Worried about this.

                              But then the skies lifted, and I made ribs and slaw. My fellow 'hound MMRuth inspired me with a posting on a fabulous dinner she made, so I got a hankering to make the cole slaw she described, and ribs jumped into my shopping cart at the supermarket, along with a natural whole chicken. So there it was.

                              Now I'm back in action, and am happily planning chicken dinner from Indonesian COTM.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                I almost always enjoy cooking, but there are stretches of time where I'm simply off my game. When I'm on, it's darned good (modest, moi?) but then again there are those timeframes where my BioRhythms(tm) must be off or something, because I can turn a classic dish into a car crash.

                                I'm that way with fishing and music, too: sometimes, I can't miss and other times, I'm a wreck.

                                Keeps things interesting.


                              2. I went through an extended cooking slump....just didn't want to do it for several months. Much of that time I was living alone and commuting back to see hubby on weekends, so I think some of it had to do with lacking motivation to cook for one. However, that wasn't the entire story, as it started before the long distance thing started and, in any case, I didn't want to cook on the weekends when hubby and I were together. Often on those weekends I didn't want to go out, and would suggest he cook. Ok, you know I am in a slump if I would rather eat his cooking than either cook myself or go out in the City! :-)

                                But then hubby moved down to my new home town, and we bought a new house with a *fabulous* kitchen: presto: slump gone and I am cooking like crazy and really enjoying it! I am even taking lunches to work, something I haven't done in years!

                                I had no idea that a great kitchen could make that much difference. A very pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, it is a very impractical solution for most routine slumps...but perhaps, as others have suggested, a new piece of gear might help...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: susancinsf

                                  As you know, my husband travels a lot during the week, and I am often home alone...and I too find that when I am I go into a cooking slump. And like Susan, I find myself wanting HIM to cook even when he is home (fortunately he's a good cook, so that's not a big sacrifice...)....I think that being alone lends itself to cooking slumps..there is a "why bother" feeling.

                                  Some things I do to help get over it: I always plan my menus ahead of time, even if for one. If I've gone to the trouble of planning and shopping, I'll probably go to the trouble of cooking. The other thing I do is I make enough for a family, even if its only me. I don't mind leftovers, and having something to eat for several days helps motivate me. I deliberately think of things that can be used in several different ways so I don't get bored (ie roast chicken that can be tacos or enchiladas the next day....)....

                                  And finally, I drink one glass of wine a night. (Or one beer on these hot nights.....) But when I'm alone, I have my glass while cooking. that seems to get me "in the mood". I'm fine with drinking water with my meals once I've had the wine ahead of time....

                                2. Great topic for a post. I've felt that way, and I can remember my mom feeling that way also. I have a habit of always asking my friends what they had for dinner. Once I asked my friend Rob and he told me that he went out and got Boston Market for him and his mom because she didn't feel like thinking about or dealing with dinner at all and told him it was his turn. I could feel a big grin spreading on my face because I've been there. If I'm in a certain mood all the little decisions involved with cooking can be too much mental work. And sometimes just nothing really appeals to me. Some yogurt or even just a glass of milk fits the bill. I've read through all the wonderful comments so far and I know that a lot of people don't go through the effort to prepare a meal for just themselves. I understand this but I would suggest to my fellow chowhounds to try it sometime. It feels so good. The other side of course is having to feed others when toast or something would be enough for you. I keep a few frozen dinners and frozen leftovers around for when this happens, also chinese and thai take out menus. I don't want to get too burned out on the cooking I so love, so I give myself permission to take some time off. Right now what keeps me interested in cooking is a friend I met though an online game called warhammer. He is quite the cook and so is his wife. Every night when I log on I ask him (blush) what he had for dinner. He he. He is my muse, and to be honest there is a little competition involved, and that really seems to help. It's kind of hard to admit, but if all else fails I get motivated to cook something spiffy just so I can tell him all about it later. A spark of pride and competitiveness seems to get my juices flowing. Please let us know how you are doing AngelSanctuary, and if anything helped you. I know I'll hit another dry spell and I can always use more ideas.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: givemecarbs

                                    I have been in a cooking slump recently for the first time ever. it is scary, since I love to cook and eat. The best t hing I did last week was to take a big platter, line with lettuce, and cover with sliced hard cooked eggs, leftover cold asparagus, salmon salad (canned salmon, mayo, onion), olives, bite sized pieces of cheese, a can of sardines. I would add to this whatever I have around, e.g. pickles, leftover veggies, artichokes from a jar.
                                    It was really good served with a baguette.