A simple way to reduce decision fatigue in the kitchen

Today we welcome guest post author Ryan McRae, who is the founder of the website TheADHDnerd, a blog dedicated to helping people with ADHD be more productive, successful and not ruin cast iron pans. He’s written a little guide based on this article if you’d like learn more.

I get overwhelmed easily by choices. I can’t head into a clothing store and look at seven walls of jeans. I can’t choose between 20 flavors of ice cream. My brain just seems to wear down, overloaded by the decision fatigue.

Even cooking meals, I look at with dread. Chop this, pre-heat that, sauté this thing over here. Ugh. Can’t do it. Recently I’ve fallen in love with something that helps me greatly reduce the choices.

Cast iron pans.

When I got my first cast iron pan, I made the biggest rookie mistake and put it in the dishwasher. It came out all rusted and gross. Alas, I had ruined it. (I would have recovered it had I known how, but I was not educated enough in the world of cast iron pans.) When I want to figure something out, I go all in. I got to work researching how to use these things and I found this video.

I’ve watched this video at least ten times. It explains how to use cast iron pans, season them, and take care of them. Now for the past two weeks I’ve reduced what I’m cooking down to two rules:

  1. Cook in one of the two cast iron pans that are on the stove (one for eggs and one for bacon, for example.)
  2. Roast it. I’m a fan of roasting right now: chicken, vegetables, and more vegetables. I simply look up how to roast something and throw it in. Now everything I cook has to wind up on either a cookie sheet or a cast iron pan.

Chop it? In the pan or on the sheet. Unwrap it? In the pan or on the sheet. Cook it? In the pan or on the sheet. There are several benefits to this method.

I’ve been eating much healthier now and bringing my lunches (and dinners with my schedule) to work. Also, the clean-up has been super easy. I simply wipe out the pans when they cool down or give them a quick scrape (if they get bad, I season them.) I use parchment paper on the cookie sheets so it takes no time to clean them.

I found that I looked forward to dinners and the preparation. It also made my shopping list much shorter. I highly recommend picking up a cast iron pan and getting started. You’ll enjoy it and find you have a more relaxed experience when it comes to preparing and cooking food.

2 Comments for “A simple way to reduce decision fatigue in the kitchen”

  1. posted by Garden Goddess on

    These all seem like good ideas to speed up food prep, except for the chopping in the pan part. If you don’t want to ruin/dull your knives, then you will want to avoid chopping/cutting on metal or stone surfaces. That’s a good reason why chopping blocks are made out of wood or plastic–they are softer than metal and won’t dull/smash/curl the blade. Also, you could be cutting small gashes into your pans which will make them more likely to rust and have food stick to them. By using a flexible cutting mat (a la Chef Alton Brown), you can chop, then pick up the mat and pour the food into the pan and then put the mat into the dishwasher. Super easy, no fuss AND it saves your knives. Best wishes!

  2. posted by Jeffrey Pillow on

    Switching to cast iron is one of the best kitchen decisions I’ve ever made. I had always been intimidated by them, but after the umpteenth non-stick pan being anything but non-stick, I made the switch to cast iron. Food tastes so much better now. I had no idea it would be that much difference.

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