I, too, don't like to swatch but have found that it's so necessary to get a good result. That doesn't, however, mean that I have to take it to extremes!
I generally cast on with the needle size recommended for the yarn I'm using. Since I knit a bit loosely I tend to use the smaller size recommended if more than one is listed. (such as Needle Size 7-9 )
After I knit about an inch I check the gauge to tell me if I'm in the ballpark and then I make an adjustment from there. If I'm not on target I change the needle size. If I am, then I knit approximately another inch or so and end off there. For the most part I've found that works well enough.
If it's an intricate involved project where fit is crucial, I'll do the whole deal. Otherwise the abbreviated method above works for me.
ALSO, since I usually have some yarn left over at the end of a project I knit the swatch by unwrapping yarn from the outside of the skein. Then I can unravel it and rewind it just in case I need it. Since I mostly work from center pull balls, I am then starting the project with yarn that hasn't been knit once and unravelled.
Hope this helps and happy knitting!