We all know that moment when we are finishing up the day’s work, planning our trip home, and beginning to think about what we are going to have for dinner. It may just be cooking for one or cooking for a family — regardless of size, cooking can feel incredibly overwhelming.

There are many reasons why this happens.

It can include things like a limited pantry (why did we skip our weekly shopping trip?), a special diet, picky eaters, food allergies, or even just drawing a blank when it comes to what to make. If nothing sounds good, it’s hard to come up with meal ideas.

If you’ve struggled with cooking fatigue, you’re likely nodding your head in agreement. When we relegate the thought of dinner merely to the quick drive home, we don’t allow ourselves much time to come up with a creative and delicious—not to mention, healthy—meal. Dinner is a daily need that isn’t going anywhere, so we cannot avoid mastering this part of our lives.

While it may seem to take up precious weekend time, creating a plan for the weekday meals actually will save you infinitely more time during the week. However, sitting down on the weekend to decide what to eat will help keep everyone on track and save money at the grocery store.

At the end of the week, you may need to open your refrigerator, get creative, and use what you have. Continue taking time to practice using what is on hand. You may be surprised what you can come up with using those leftover ingredients.

Meal planning

And if all else fails and it’s just too hard to get motivated, take a cooking break and give yourself some grace to rest for a bit before you dive back in. Grab some ready-made mix and match items to create interesting salads in a snap, or even head to your nearest trendy grocer, like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and grab some of their store-brand prepared or frozen dishes. Taking a break doesn’t mean dinner has to be the drive-thru.

If you resonate with these feelings of cooking fatigue, not knowing what to cook, or just wanting to take a break from having to think about it — try implementing a few of these strategies for a much more fulfilling mealtime experience. And if this isn’t enough, you can plan for leftovers when you’re feeling tired or incorporate a new recipe each week when you’re feeling bored.

If all else fails, a FaceTime date while cooking with a faraway friend and then eating together may cure the mundane.

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