It’s Monday night. There are three different recipes spread out on my kitchen counter, plus the two in my head that I know by heart. The contents of my refrigerator are migrating to the cutting board. The spices in my cabinet are coming out of hiding. Every bowl I own is in use. I chop until my timer’s beeping pulls me to the stove to flip or stir or add ingredients. I rinse and dry my hands, re-set the timer, and get back to dicing. I’m happy to be commanding the chaos around me, and am looking forward to eating and sharing the fruits of my labor.
My Monday evening routine is to make food for the week. I enjoy it with one exception. Every two to three weeks signs of cooking burnout begin to appear. Friday night I refuse to open the refrigerator. All weekend I push to eat out for every single meal (and snack). I am tired of cooking. I am tired of eating food that I have prepared.
When I notice these signs I take a week off from my normal routine. I proclaim to myself and my boyfriend that I will not be cooking this week. I close the cookbooks. I buy frozen and prepared foods. When my boyfriend adds fresh meat to our grocery cart I say, “Go ahead, but I’m not cooking it.” He rolls his eyes at me, “I know. You told me already.” All week I revel in the luxurious simplicity of packing my lunch with a box of pre-made food.
Friday morning I recognize the need for breakfast. There is cereal. There are English muffins. Maybe I could cook something though. I grab a cookbook off the shelf and flip through until I land on blueberry pancakes. I stir the batter, curious to try this new recipe. As I wait for the pan to heat I flip through the cookbook to see what other interesting recipes it might have. Then I laugh to myself. Cooking break clearly worked. My cooking powers have returned!
What are your signs of burnout? How do you take a break?