This post may contain affiliate links that help support the blog when you make a purchase
Cooking with ADHD is a whole new world
ADHD symptoms affect every area of our lives, and the kitchen is no different. Though it isn’t an issue for every person with ADHD, many of us find ADHD cooking to be – dare I say it?- distasteful.
What are the specific challenges we face with ADHD and cooking?
Tell me if any of these kitchen scenarios sound familiar:
- Inattentiveness – You’re in the middle of making a dish, bringing things to a boil. Since a watched pot never boils anyway, you let your mind slip away into a recap of the day. You’re right in the middle of imagining a witty retort that you SHOULD have said to a coworker when you smell the burning. You sigh, swear, throw it out and get ready to start over.
- Distractibility – Picture this: the phone rings, you pick up and have a long conversation. You’re enjoying talking to your friend and think when you’re done it will probably be about time to pull dinner out of the oven. You’re giggling over an old memory with your pal when suddenly it occurs to you that the smell of your dinner baking should be in the air, but it isn’t. You go to the kitchen and see that you’ve left the oven off. Time to order a pizza.
- Forgetfulness – You’ve really been looking forward to trying out a new recipe, so you add the ingredients to your shopping list. You get home, unpack everything, and get started making your meal. You reach for the next ingredient in the recipe only to find it is the one thing that you forgot. Looks like you’re making something else tonight.
Grocery shopping with ADHD is ALSO a challenge
As anyone with ADHD can tell you, the grocery store can sometimes feel like hell. In order to get through the grocery store, we have to avoid a bunch of pitfalls. The grocery store is full of overstimulation. All of the items seem to call out to us, asking us to try them, taste them, and bring them home. Or they remind us of something that sends us off the beaten path. Impulsivity can lead us to spend more money in the grocery store than we planned, or grab something that we normally wouldn’t eat just to try it. Do you see how much of a headache this can become? Living with ADHD presents a lot of challenges. If you need some extra help with that, read my Ultimate ADHD Guide.
Now back to the cooking stuff.
What’s the big deal?
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.
Just to recap, delivery is:
- Not that tasty
- Hours aren’t great so you can’t get food
What we do instead of cooking:
- Rely on delivery services
- Eat out every night
- Or we starve
Neither one of these options is going to work, folks. That means it is critical for us to get a handle on these cooking challenges so we can have some food to eat that won’t cost us a fortune or ruin our health. Trust me, this is not just a challenge I’m putting out there because I’m so much better at it. Like everything else, I get better or worse at this depending on what is happening in my life. Of course, sometimes even our best laid plans in the kitchen can go wrong. Like this mishap I had one night:
How do I fix this problem?
You can guarantee that if I am working on a big project that takes me out of the house for any length of time routinely that I am going to fall into the order out trap and get away from cooking. But if we’re going to do it, we need some things to make it easier, right? So here are a few cooking methods, recipe locators and product recommendations to help you get the job done a bit more smoothly.
Methods that can make cooking with ADHD a bit easier
Cooking requires more attention than some of us have on a consistent basis, so one of the things I love to do is find techniques that will allow me to eat without consuming too much of my energy. That means I don’t have a ton of time to spend on chopping, dicing and complicated cooking techniques that are best left to the professionals. I want quick, tasty, and to get back to doing whatever I was doing before I had to hit the kitchen. Here’s what I’ve found works best for me.
One-pot meals – On Pinterest, they’re better known as “dump dinners” things that people can throw in a pot and run away. They don’t require a ton of time or a ton of thought. Dump and go, that’s the best way for me.
Soup– I love love love making soups. There is something comforting about them to me. I love to make soup or chili because then I have a meal that is one pot that I can eat all week long. It’s like a dump meal, but since it is soup people feel like you put more effort into it, which is awesome.
One sheet meals – These are the cousin of the one-pot meal, and I love them. I love foods with different textures so sometimes the soups and the one pots get a little boring. I want something with some crisp to it. Then I can chop up some veggies, season up some meat, toss it all on a baking sheet and run away. What more could a woman ask for?? I couldn’t ask for more than that at all.
Products that can make cooking with ADHD a bit easier
Egg timer – yes, I know that this is super basic but don’t pretend that you don’t occasionally dismiss the timer on your smartphone before you realize you need it. An egg timer is external and it is LOUD. Get yourself an egg timer!
Crockpot -The Crockpot is every Pinterest mom’s dream device, and with good reason. The crockpot allows you to throw everything into the pot, give it a stir, and go live! It really can be that simple if we let it. I have strayed away from crockpot cooking but I PROMISE it is going back on the list. Cooking with ADHD means I’ll need something I can set and forget.
Instant Pot – I am ordering mine on Amazon at the recommendation of at least 5 ADHD individuals who swore to me I would never go back. I believe them. Just like the crockpot, the instant pot is there to do the cooking without burning food and driving you to drink.
A cookbook with foods you REALLY like – Remember, stimulation is key to making your ADHD brain do your bidding. So if you can find a way to make the task very exciting or rewarding, you have much better odds of getting it done. Try this one out by my buddy David Murphy. You’ve probably heard of him. He’s the guy who made wine in his Instant pot.
Places I Find Recipes
This is the part where it is supposed to get REALLY creative and I tell you all about how I come up with meals on my own? Whomp whomp. Not going to happen, guys. I barely have the attention span to stay in the room to finish the meal, much less invent my own. Unless it is something I have been making for years sans recipe (like spaghetti, for instance), I find something I love and I make it according to the directions I find there. Here are a few places I’ve found that make recipes I like.
- Tasty – Tasty is awesome for me because it comes with videos. Sometimes I run across a recipe and I have no clue what they’re talking about until they give it to me in video form. Some people don’t need that, I don’t mind saying that I do. They have great variety and I love the recipes I find there.
- Genius Kitchen – Genius Kitchen (now apparently food.com) is another favorite of mine because I love the reviews they write down in the recipes. The people over there are always so colorful. They are certain to tell you what they absolutely loved or couldn’t stand about a recipe. Sometimes they’re really judgy and that makes me giggle. You’ll like it there.
- Pinterest – Everybody knows that you can find all the stuff to cook over at Pinterest. Collecting things on Pinterest is digital hoarding, so we’ve all got a board filled with things we have planned to cook that we’re never actually going to cook. But seriously, find something on Pinterest and cook it. It’s going to go well. While you’re over there, follow the Black Girl, Lost Keys Pinterest page. Hell, I’ll even make a recipe board for the occasion.
There’s no easy way to fix the problem of cooking with ADHD
There are no easy solutions to this one. You’re going to need to experiment to come up with what works best for you. For instance, I don’t hate cooking as much as I hate shopping. And I don’t hate either when I’m not under a crunch for time and pressure to get it done. The point is we have to be able to get the food we need to survive and we need to be able to get it without stressing ourselves out and costing ourselves a fortune. Give yourself some time, soon you’ll be able to conquer cooking with ADHD.
Read more from Black Girl, Lost Keys