I never realized that my cooking strategies were ADHD hacks until reading a recent post from Black Girl, Lost Keys:
Ok, so lots of people don’t cook and they manage, right? So what if you have some challenges with cooking, you can always door dash it right? Here’s why we need to get cooking right. If you don’t perfect cooking with ADHD you’re going to get stuck relying on delivery service. I knew that I had gone too far when I realized the delivery driver knew my voice. Folks, that just isn’t necessary. Plus, unless you live in a metropolitan area you can’t even get a wide range of delivery options.Black Girl, Lost Keys: How To Cook When You Have Funky Executive Function
I wrote a long comment on her post even though I almost never comment on posts because I was so excited to think that maybe, just maybe, my cooking strategies aren’t because I’m lazy. They’re because I’m creative. They’re hacks.
Thus, in my comment, I added a few more things to her already helpful post. And then I copied and pasted my own comment into a blog post and started editing and away we go…
1. Use the Paprika Recipe Manager app
The Paprika Recipe Manager app is amazing. You import recipes into it, then hit “add to grocery list” from the recipe to add to your shopping list. It will scale recipes and the ingredients for you if you need that done. And because you automatically add every ingredient from a recipe right when you decide to make a recipe, you know you are not leaving anything out.
In fact, one of the settings for the shopping list allows you to hide items after they’re checked, so the list view is always clean looking and only contains the things you still need. When a list has some checked items and some not, and the checked items aren’t all grouped at the top or bottom, it can be hard to follow it. In every way, this app is just a godsend.
2. Learn to love dump meals
Dump meals are the best. Black Girl, Lost Keys stressed this point and I’m going to reiterate it because it deserves to be screamed out for all to hear.
Dump meals are one-pot meals you can make either on the stovetop, instant pot, or slow cooker. All you do is throw all your ingredients in. All at the same time. It’s pretty much the only kind of cooking I do. I’m fairly sure all of the recipes I have recommended are dump meals.
3. Try your hand at freezer meals
Many dump meals can be made long in advance and stored in the freezer in gallon-size Ziploc baggies. Do a web search for “freezer dump meals” and you’ll get tons of ideas. It only takes a minute to measure things into a baggy and put it in the freezer, and then you have a meal ready to throw in to cook whenever you need it.
4. Freeze leftovers
Any time you make a dump meal that will provide you with 6 or more servings, divide it into individual containers as soon as it’s done. Then put one or two of those containers in the freezer right away. That way you have a backup plan for those weeks when you don’t get around to figuring out what to eat. You can just pull something out of the freezer and microwave it, and voila, there’s dinner. Bonus points if you remember to stick it in the fridge to defrost some period of time in advance!
5. Buy pre-chopped produce and herbs
Buy produce and fresh herbs* pre-chopped whenever possible. It’s a little more expensive this way, but not by much. Not having to chop herbs and vegetables helps you get all the ingredients into the pot a lot faster, and potentially removes one of your barriers to entry. Personally, I hate chopping and will sometimes put off cooking because of it.
*Better: sub in dried herbs whenever fresh ones are called for. But if there are pre-chopped fresh herbs available at your supermarket, sometimes they’re worth getting, depending on your recipe. My favorite chicken soup recipe is much better with fresh thyme than dried, for example.
6. Measure spices before you start
Speaking of herbs… Measure all herbs and spices first. This one is a recent hack for me. Pull a small bowl out of the cabinet and measure all the herbs and spices into it before doing anything else. It’s deeply gratifying when it’s time to add the spices to be able to just dump the complete contents of a small bowl into the big pot rather than fussing with measuring spoons at the point in the recipe.
Combine all of these tips, and you have how I do most of my cooking. My routine now allows me to only have to be in my kitchen preparing food 2-3 times a week, at the maximum, and I don’t need to spend very long in there each time. This is how I have all my lunches and dinners taken care of for about a week or so without me having to think about what I am eating or when I am going to make it.
Is it repetitive to eat the same thing several days in a row? Yes. Do I care? Yes. Do I do it anyway because my wallet and waistline can’t handle me ordering delivery all the time?
I’ve posted a list of some of my favorite easy healthy recipes here: Eight Easy High Protein, Low Carb, Low Fat, Whole Food, Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Meal Recipes. Enjoy!