One of the dangers of cooking a meal for just yourself is the Why Bother Syndrome. This usually happens on a weeknight when you arrive home from work, exhausted and depleted, and the idea of rustling up a nice, hot, nutritious meal just for you seems like way too much effort. So out come the chips and salsa, and before you know it, you're brushing your teeth before bed without having ingested much more than cornmeal, tomato puree and salt for dinner. Does this sound familiar?
The difficult thing about the Why Bother Syndrome is that it's often not done consciously. It's not like we stand there and say "Why should I bother with taking good care of myself? I'm just not worth the effort it takes to make a delicious stir fry or to roast some veg and toss a salad." No, it's more likely a series of small unconscious decisions that quietly lead us away from something delicious to something quick and snacky.
Here are a few tips to help with Why Bother Syndrome:
1. Eat a Late-Day Snack. We often arrive home depleted and famished, and the thought of waiting even a half hour to cook dinner is unthinkable. So we immediately grab something quick and easy (crackers and cheese, a bag of pretzels) to fill that hunger, and before we know it, we're full on the snacks without having had dinner. So try eating something just before leaving work, like an apple or a handful of nuts, to keep blood sugar levels a little more normal. This way, it feels possible to invest some time and effort into a decent meal.
2. Be More Aware. Pay attention to your thinking. Try to notice exactly when you make the decision to not cook for yourself and ask "Do I really want to do this?" Often the answer will be that you do want to make the effort, at least some effort. Which brings us to the next two tips:
3. Have a Few Quick but Delicious Meals in your Repertoire. There are dozens of ways to do this: cook up a pot of brown rice on the weekend for easy stir fried meals during the week, or a nice pot of soup.
4. Mezze. Sometimes little snacks can add up to a nice meal, if you take a hint from the Mediterranean mezze approach. Try a scoop of hummus with a few pita wedges, a wedge of feta, some baby spinach drizzled with olive oil and a quick squirt of lemon, a few roasted red peppers from a jar, a handful of almonds. This lovely meal can come together in about five minutes and is delicious, nutritious and festive!
What are your tips and tricks for combatting Why Bother Syndrome?
(Image: Emma Christensen)