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I think I've lost my cooking mojo

Help me hounds....please. I love to cook, but life seems to get in the way lately. Single empty nester, I'm spending too many hours at work, have traveled a little bit lately and haven't cooked anything in the last 2 months, at least (and cooking pasta doesn't count). I've done take-out, eaten out, heated frozen items from TJs, and stayed at work (and done take-out there) pretty much since the beginning of April.

My usual cooking routine includes a Saturday morning trip to my local farmer's market for fresh fruit and veggies, then I prep/cook all of my bounty on Sunday night along with some protein (usually chicken or fish) and some starch to go with it. That gives me enough meals for the entire week that I can simply reheat or supplement as needed. A few times I also made a good green salad as I was trying to eat healthier.

I continue to clip and save recipes, prowl the various chowhound boards for food ideas, and kept up my desire to eat well. I just haven't cooked.

I'll go back to the farmer's market this weekend for the first time since the beginning of April and almost fear it. I think I'll be overwhelmed by the new spring produce and buy too much (I have a tendency to do that anyway) but I'm afraid it will go to waste if I don't get up off my butt and cook it.

Has anyone ever lost their cooking mojo and if you did, how did you get it back? How do I get back in the saddle again?

Many, many thanks in advance.

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  1. Naw, you haven't lost it. It's there. It'll come back. You're fine. Don't be guilty.

    For me, reading favorite old cookbooks, or cooking mags, or watching my favorite chefs on TV does it.

    Have you considered throwing a potluck dinner or brunch? You contribute a dish, and your friends bring something too?
    Might be fun.

    1. been there many x's actually. i get my mojo back a few ways.

      i accept dinner invitations and let other people cook for a while.
      i dine out for a bit.
      i head to a farm.
      i eat light for a bit.
      eventually all of these things and the smell of my own kitchen cooking brings me back.
      but i've learned not to force the issue
      when my mojo is absent my talents tend to be too.

      embrace the break.

      4 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        "when my mojo is absent my talents tend to be too."

        Thanks for this - I never thought about it till now, but I'm the same way. My off weeks are when DH gets to menu plan and cook!

        1. re: truman

          truman, you're fortunate to have a dh that can step in. my man is not home on a similar enough schedule for me to work his mojo into mine :) at least not in the cooking/baking dept!

          but i agree taking time off is good medicine.

          1. re: HillJ

            I too wish DH could step in and take over. I've really taken over the cooking role and his skills never evolved past bachelorhood. I wind up giving him instruction and eh, might as well do it myself!
            He tries, bless his heart.

            1. re: monavano

              I'll tell him you are impressed - but to be honest, his nights/weeks include a lot of burgers, tacos, and spaghetti. :) That's fine with me, as all I have to do is clean up...

      2. Just commit to cooking a limited amount each week. Don't press yourself to get in elbow deep into a complicated recipe. Choose only 2 in season items of produce and walk away!
        I know it's hard. I do the same thing. And I go to way too many markets in season!
        I recently skipped several weekend morning markets. which is our routine. I just got burned out and was doing all my shopping at supermarkets.
        I feel charged up to go to the markets now, what with it getting exciting this time of year.

        1. I took a thai cooking class, which really motivated me. I had not lost my cooking mojo, but it did ramp up how much I cooked. Because it was something different from what I normally cook, it introduced me to all sorts of new ingredients, which motivated "field trips" to stores I never would have known about, and drove me to experiment on what i'd learned. And the class was fun, and connected me to others who like to cook.

          As a caveat, I am fortunate enough to live in an area (SF area) where there is a plethora of cuisine variety. Had I lived in a comparative culinary desert, I would not have gotten as much out of the class, since a big part of the fun is the shopping for ingredients which may be unavailable elsewhere (and on-line shopping is no fun).

          So, just an idea to consider.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MagicMarkR

            A recent trip to H Mart (huge Asian market) got my mojo going again. I went to get ingredients for making Bo Ssam and came away inspired by the ingredients which were new to me.
            I also find inspiration dining out. Two recent restaurant visits had me leaving with a dish in mind to recreate at home.

          2. Thanks for all your responses and encouragement! I've just got to get going and stop making excuses, I think.

            Pinehurst, a potluck is a good idea. I was thinking of doing something when my son comes home for a visit so I might ask for some contributions, which I normally would never do.

            Monavano, I don't really cook anything complicated, I try to keep things simple but a limited amount does make sense. I guess I shouldn't approach it as I did before, 3-4 veggie dishes plus the protein, etc. Maybe just the really in-season veggies instead of those plus what I can always get.

            MagicMarkR-I'm also in the Bay Area (live on the Peninsula and work south of Market) PLUS I work for a catering company. No lack of inspiration on that front but what we serve is pretty much beyond my modest skills and besides, eating our food can actually dampen my appetite. Yesterday I had left over food from a client lunch-roasted chicken with grapes and rosemary, 3 veggies and panna cotta for dessert. Monday's lunch was a thai beef salad. So when I get home, the last thing I want to do is cook or eat anything interesting. I've got a great farmer's market close to home so I've got to get back there.

            Thanks again for the ideas and inspiration, and if anyone else has ideas, please chime in!

            2 Replies
            1. re: alwayshungrygal

              Ah. Then maybe the solution is to find a different job :-)

              1. re: MagicMarkR

                Great idea but I've been here too long to even think about starting over somewhere else. My goal is to retire in about 4-5 years and then volunteer at a food pantry or something like that. Cooking for fun, rather than selling food, would be wonderful and hopefully, much less stressful.