Updated: Jan 13
Welcome my fellow foodie to Hebrew House Cafe! If you love food and the art of cooking, you've come to the right place. My name is Anah Shofar and I'm the operator of this site and business. I make the dinners (about 90% of the time) and most of that 90 percent of the time I usually start out clueless on what to make. For all those cooking parents out there, don't feel bad that you feel uninspired or unmotivated to cook for your family! It's a mental block from the enemy! You are not suffering alone in this! How do I fight the urge to order take-out food instead of cooking?
Well... Firstly, I realize how blessed I am to have access to food in my home. Sometimes, that adds to my "momma guilt" because it's a conflict between feeling grateful for what I have in my fridge versus just completely blanking out on what ideas I can create in the kitchen. I usually set WAY TOO HIGH of expectations for myself when it comes to cooking, like I have to be a gourmet chef to my family every night or something (*eyeroll*). I love my family, but momma is not about to stress herself out for the sake of EGO! They already know I can cook, and some nights a simple, fresh meal is just enough.
HOW TO AVOID DINNER MENTAL BLOCK/BRAINFOG/STRESS:
Step 1: Release all stress by getting rid of the high expectations you set for yourself... it's false! A trick of the enemy! Just except that you do not currently have an idea of what dinner will look like today. Always start with a blank canvas.
Step 2: Take account of all the ingredients you DO have available to you. Again, avoid setting high expectations for yourself, and shut down those negative thoughts that claim "you don't have enough ingredients to make XYZ!" That's a lie! You have more than enough, and if you're missing something, you're able to make it work! You'd be surprised at how you can substitute certain ingredients...
*Sidenote: Assuming you're not a special diet household, make sure you always stock your kitchen with your basic ingredients: flour or oats, baking power/baking soda, *****a bunch of spices*****, tomatoes/tomato sauce, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, oil/butter, meats and cheeses of choice, milk and vinegar. Everything else can be derived from those ingredients...
Step 3: Once you account for your pantry items, start brainstorming ideas based off of what you or your family members feel like eating today. Most of the time, my family just eats whatever I can think of making that day, so I go based off my cravings (yeah sure, I'm a little selfish when it comes to my food, but I need to make sure I am going to enjoy the cooking process since I'll be the one laboring in the kitchen!) What kind of cuisines do you like? Asian? ....Caribbean? ...Italian?
Step 4: Once you figure out the region of cuisine you want to make, it's almost go-time! Start listing your favorite foods from those cuisines... (again, keep in mind the ingredients you DO have access to... if you're missing a KEY entree ingredient and cannot substitute whatsoever, I would just scratch the idea for another day)
Asian? - Ingredients I have: sushi wraps, chicken, mandarin oranges, soy sauce, rice vinegar.. Therefore, I could make: Sushi, orange chicken, Beijing beef and broccoli, etc...
Caribbean? - Ingredients I have: green onion, cilantro, habenero peppers (those are basically scotch bonnet's cousin in the SW states), fish, chicken, flour, cornmeal Therefore, I could make: fried fish, jerk chicken, spinach and fried dumpling
Italian? - Ingredients I have: pasta sauce, pasta, flour, cheese, etc...
Therefore, I could make: calzones, baked ziti, mini pizzas (easy peasy)
Step 5: Narrow down to your final meal idea. You know the direction you need to go at this point. Then, find the right recipe for you. Again, stop stressing that you don't have a tiny ingredient to make a specific recipe! It's not a big deal! That's where your creativity and improvisation comes in.
Sidenote: The internet and social media can be a beautiful resource to find the "right fit" for a recipe. I always utilize Tiktok and YouTube shorts for quick recipe tutorials at this point because I already know how to cook, so I'd rather not sit through a 20 minute cooking video... I just need a quick overview and the ingredient list and I got it! Thanks!
Step 6: You got this! Start prepping for your masterpiece meal for tonight! When you're finished, it's the most satisfying feeling ever. And do not be afraid to substitute or get creative! The recipe is a guideline, not a strict instruction manual.