Need some Mumsnet confidence boosts(34 Posts)
So I'm on a complete downer and never asked for a boost on her but I will try anything at the moment. I feel like a total and utter failure as a mum and a wife. I have been with my husband (manchild) for 11 years now and married for 6, I have two Lovely (evil) girls aged 3 & 4. and I am failing in all departments especially cooking...............
every meal I cook is either uncle bens, homepride, or erm hang on homepride or maybe dolmio if the husband is not home.
Every time I try and cook something from scratch it is a disaster, epic fails all round, i have NO confidence what so ever in the kitchen but I am so desperate to be able to cook from scratch, such as shepherds pie, chilli, spag bowl, some other lovely meal that i cant do from scratch.
I find recipes and get all excited and panic and pull out good old homepride. people say to me "oh i just chuck in a bit of this and a bit of that and hey presto" seriously it is not that easy (Sobbing)
My husband is always moaning that all i ever do is mince and chicken, well that's because that's all i know. i tried a pork and apple hotpot thing at the weekend, potatos on the top didn't cook and pork was a dry as a bone. (yes i sat upstairs sobbing eating a bar of galaxy whist pretending i was putting on a new pair of socks, One day someone will realise my stash of chocolate is in my sock draw and I'm not actually going to change my socks but eating chocolate so i dnt have to share Evil mummy)
Needless to say i feel so useless as i am a stay at home mum and the best thing i can do is clean, not cook, not look after my children, just clean. House is always spotless even with two young children and a manchild in the house.
Ive even thought about trying to find cooking lessons but no such luck there. So here i am, can some of you lovely parents help me!!!!!
Thank you for reading
You sound like me, OP, really lacking in confidence (at times) and bashing yourself over the head for it which doesn't help and just perpetuates the cycle of feeling crap. It doesn't help when you are juggling two young children and a man-child who I assume does not pull his weight around the house.
But look at what you are achieving. Ok so you're not creating culinary master pieces each night but who is?! You are looking after your family regardless what you think about yourself. It's not as though you are feeding them McDonald's/Burger King every night and ok, you're not that confident in the kitchen at the mo but with practice you will be. Before kids I was shite at cooking, it was v embarrassing but with a lot of trial and error I've become an ok cook And on some odd days a really good one. You can too just ignore that negative voice by focusing on something else when it crops up. If you want to grow in the cooking dept then buy yourself some cook books (good housekeeping ones are great, lots of pictures and v detailed instructions) and crack on. If you muck up then you muck up. Even Mary Berry admits to some disasters and you can do what I do, just name it as something else!! Please don't measure your worth by what meals you make or how clean your house is. You are worth so much more than that (to your daughters you are their world) you just need to send that negative voice package and keep having a crack on the cooking front. In the meantime these are for you 💐☕️/🍷 + 🍫
Ps if your husband moans about the cooking then tell him that from now on he is responsible for x number of nights meals. I find that strategy quite effective these days.
Ugh, definitely agree with if he whinges, he cooks
A spag bol that I know works well - has been tried and tested by people who 'can't cook' and worked for them too:
Spaghetti bolognese - will make enough to do a very large meal, or a couple of nights' dinners:
500g beef mince
2 cloves of garlic or a tablespoon of 'instant' garlic from a jar
Half a courgette if you have one - leave it out if not, it won't matter
4 tbsp red lentils
1 beef stock cube (Sainsburys ones are nicer and cheaper than Oxo)
2 cartons or tins of chopped peeled plum tomatoes
Tablespoon of oil
Tablespoon of dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Start early! If you have the time at home, put this on to cook in the morning or cook it at the weekend and freeze it to use it during the week. Grate the carrot (and courgette if you're using it) and set it to one side. Chop the onion & garlic and put it into a large-ish saucepan, add the tablespoon of oil, and put it on a low heat. The onion will slowly soften - that's all you want it to do, soften without colouring. As soon as it's soft, break up the beef mince and chuck it in, then turn the heat up a little (about halfway on most hobs). Give it an occasional stir so that the mince starts to brown without completely cooking. As soon as it's all got a bit of colour to it, put in the lentils, carrot, courgette, tomatoes, dried mixed herbs, and break up the stock cube to put it in. Half fill one tomato tin or carton with water, swish it about a bit to rinse the can then tip it into the second can - then tip the tomato-ey water into the saucepan with the other ingredients. Then turn the heat back down to low, put a lid on and ignore it for an hour. After an hour, give it a stir, make sure it's not catching on the bottom of the pan (shouldn't be if you've got the heat turned right down), put the lid back on and leave it for another hour to 2 hours. THEN you can taste it! Add salt and pepper if you think it needs it, take the lid off, and let it thicken up a little. Serve with cooked spaghetti, or cool and box up to freeze.
If you've eaten half of this for dinner one night, you can turn the rest into chilli con carne by adding one tin of mixed beans, rinsed, and about a quarter to half a teaspoon of chilli flakes the next night (depending on how good you and your family are with hot spicy food - start with a quarter!). You may need to add a little water to give it a bit more cooking time and let the flavour from the chilli flakes cook in.
How about a beef stew? Put some diced beef, chopped carrots, chopped swede and sliced celery into a casserole dish. Cover with cold water from the tap, sprinkle in a couple of beef oxo cubes, season, stick the lid on and cook low about 150 for about 2 and a half hours. The beef will be done so just check your veg is nice and soft, and then shake in a few bistro granules and mix them in to thicken it up. Serve it with crusty bread or mash.
Bless you. It sounds like you are doing everything so perfectly that the only fault you can find in yourself is that you were never taught to cook. Stop looking for faults in yourself.
If you really want to learn to cook, buy the Delia Smith 'How to Cook' books. They take you right back to first principles: even how to boil an egg, so you have the foundations and confidence to move forward.
But: if your family enjoy what you make and no-one is suffering malnutrition then I wouldn't worry too much. Occasionally swap out the homepride for other brands
Oh I need this thread. It's tough, especially with the demands of young children.
Delia's complete cookery course. Take it slowly andcsteadily.
Baked potatoes, scoop out flesh, mash with cheese, ham and a few chives, butter, put back in oven with some grated cheese on top. Sour cream for skin dipping. Ready made salad and dressing to go with.
Large,bag Caesar salad, two chicken breasts shredded, tomato and mozzarella salad on side (literally, tub mozz pearls, box cherry toms, handful black olives) with tear and share garlic bread.
Stir fry veg (don't use olive oil), salmon fillets, pile on top of noodles. Add soy.
Omolette, chips and salad.
I tried Gousto - it's pricier than shopping for raw ingredients otherwise would be, but as everything is pre-measured it took away the temptation to think "ooh, that doesn't seem right" and 'adjust' the recipe as I went. I cooked far nicer and a wider variety of meals using it, and I really really cannot cook! I stopped using them as I kept missing the window to pick next week's meals and their random selections weren't always to our taste.
Even getting cooking with jars right takes a bit of skill, OP, so I suspect you aren't giving yourself enough credit.
Wow, thank you the comments and some recipes, getting pad and paper out and writing them down as I type, well not as I type as that means I can write and type, that would be entertaining.
Other problem I have is my manchild does not like tomatos or cheese, do you know how many meals that kills, he can handle a homepride chilli but cant handle a dolmio spag bowl
Ive tried a beef stew from scratch quite a few times, came out watery and manchild said tasteless.
What do you guys cook during the week and weekends to not make boring!!!!
For spag bowl can you replace a tin of chopped tomatos for passata is that the same??? I think its the lumps of tomatos that puts him off.
Absolutely swap out chopped tomatoes for passata.
For weekdays we often have a fish fillet quickly turned in seasoned flour (plain flour with salt, pepper, and some onion granules mixed into it) then fried in a tiny bit of oil, or chicken portions (take some chicken drumsticks, put them in an ovenproof dish with some sliced onions underneath, salt and pepper them and roast them in the oven for about half an hour), with carrots, broccoli, new potatoes or boiled potatoes.
Oh, and if the manchild is picky as well as whiny? Definitely needs to take on some of the cooking and get more of an idea of what he's on about.
Hi OP, I would say hotpot etc is a bit complicated, why not strip it down to recipes of no more than 5 ingredients and start from there? If it helps, this is our meal tonight
One pot roast chicken and veg - in a bowl mix half a cup of mild olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 2 teaspoons mixed herbs, salt & pepper. In a baking dish scatter new potatoes, 4 or 5 garlic cloves, inch thick chopped courgette, chunks of onion. Pour over half the oil mix and stir about. Place chicken thighs on top, rub or brush on top the rest of the oil mix. Roast in hot oven at 180c for 1hr. Half an hour before the end you can throw in cherry tomatoes/olives/red pepper if you want
Chopped onion (sweated in oil in frying pan)
When sweated transfer to heatproof casserole
Same frying pan, brown 1.5lb cubed beef in batches and add to casserle
Add a packet of bacon lardons
Sprinkle heaped tbs plain flour all over and stir
Take one beef gravy stock pot and add 3/4 pint boiling,water stir until issolved
Add stock to casserole, stirring
Add glass red wine, bay leaf, few herbs
Put in oven for two hours, add pckt button mushrooms and give it another 30 mins
Serve with mash (shop bought if you like) and a green veg.
Once you've got that under your belt you can add all sorts of other stuf as you fancy.
I'd have a look at the Jamie Oliver website for easy recipes or buy his Ministry of food. There's you tube videos as well so you can see what its supposed to look like.
here are some more ideas, also check out BBC food website, its great!
Fish/chicken goujons- get strips of either, dip in a beaten egg then breadcrumbs. Shove in oven at 180 for 20 mins or so and voila! Nice with salad or veg and oven chips
Cottage pie- fry mince meat, add passata or canned toms then shove some frozen veg in (the ones that are cut small). Add a couple of different green dried herbs (i.e. Oregano, rosemary, thyme) and a beef stock cube to taste. Top with mash potatoe, yum!
Curry- fry chicken. add curry paste (the tikka masala one from sainos is b good) once chicken is cooked right thro. Stir in one bag of fresh spinach and a can of chopped tomatoes (if the men child can cope with that for one night). Just before serving add small tub of Creme fraiche. Serve with a naan bread (ready made one from sainos is very good with this).
Once you get going on these I'm sure you'll get some momentum and if man-child starts winging then suggest he can do the menu planning if he so wishes 😜
This is a really simple one. It combines a few shortcut ingredients to produce something that looks and tastes good.
Buy a bag of frozen ready prepped Mediterranean veg, place on a tray and bake for 10 mins.
Get a roll of ready rolled puff pastry, unroll and score a border right the way round the edge about 1-2 cm in. Then prick the inner square with a fork. Take the veg out and place on inner square of pastry, drizzle over some pesto and then grate on some cheese. Beat an egg and then use this to paint the boarder with, this will help it brown. Bake in the oven at about 180 for 15-20 mins until the pastry is browned.
You can use the same veg to make a frittata. I do mine in one of those silicone cake 'tins' in the oven. Again cook the veg in the oven, then crack six eggs in a bowl and whisk, just enough to combine the yolks and whites, season, then pour into the cake tin (put tin on baking sheet). Then add the veg, move the veg about a bit so they are evenly distributed. You can also add any cooked meat at this point (ham, pieces of cooked sausage, chicken. Sprinkle over some cheese and bake for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set firm.
The key to cooking from scratch is to keep tasting your food as you go. Here's an easy recipe for you.
Fry off some beef (cubes/chunks) until browned. Don't overcrowd the pan so do this in batches.
Remove beef from pan and place on a plate. Now fry an onion until softened, then add chopped carrots and celery and continue to fry on a low heat.
Chuck the beef back in.
Add two tablespoons plain flour and stir well for two minutes to cook out the flour and make sure everything is nicely coated.
Now add in 500ml beef stock. If you want it really beefy, add and extra half a cube or a couple of teaspoons of Bovril. But taste it first!
Give it another taste, add salt & pepper and any herbs you may have (dried is fine - thyme is good, as are bay leaves). Maybe some Worcestershire sauce for a bit of tang. Or a squirt of tomato purée if your DH can take it.
Put a lid on your pan and leave to simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally. About 45 mins - 1 hr. Keep tasting!
Once meat is tender, decant into a pie dish, and cover with some ready rolled puff pastry. Brush milk on top. Bung in oven at 200/180 Fan, Gas 4 for 25-30 minutes or until puff pastry is browned and nicely risen.
Would you like a recipe for perfect steamed basmati rice too? Cooks in 20 minutes in the microwave.
Okay here it is.
Measure out your rice in cups or mugs. I use 1 mug of rice for two generous portions.
Place your rice in a large microwaveable container and wash the rice thoroughly with cold water. Don't do this in a sieve but instead repeatedly fill the container with cold water, swill the water and rice around and then drain. Repeat until the water runs clear. I do it 7 times - that's a weird Persian family tradition though & you can probably get away with doing it 5-6 times.
Drain the water out completely.
Now get your mug/cup that you used to measure out the rice and add 1.5 times cold water to the rice. It's always 1.5 times water to 1 cup/mug of rice by volume. Any more and you end up with horrible rice.
Add a pinch of salt and put the container uncovered in the microwave for 15mins.
Take out, cover, with a vented lid if you have one or if you don't either with microwaveable cling film with some slits cut in it or with a lid that's slightly off centre to create a vent.
Place back in for 5 mins.
Leave for a few minutes to steam, fork through & serve.
Note: if you're doing this in a micro rice cooker, it just needs 15 mins with the lid on throughout.
I've got loads more - homemade hollandaise or mayonnaise anyone?
OP, I feel your pain. (and sorry everyone for a long post!)
I had to start cooking when I was 14 (mum worked full time over weekend shifts and I didn't think it was fair mum had to cook for us all during those weekends). My attempts for about 6 months were complete disasters that not even the dog would eat (and she used to eat other dogs crap!)
What saved me? Cookery books from charity shops! Not the fancy "smear with jus" poncy ones but an old Good Housekeeping cookbook and a few farmhouse cookbooks I found which I bought with my pocket money. Also had a couple of "easy meals" books as well.
There are loads of books out there now re: easy and cheap meals (and some you can download for free on your kindle etc)
Basically do what I do.. settle down with a cup of tea/ coffee (and choc!) and read them from start to finish. Some will explain what cooking terms actually mean (like "simmer" and "browning" etc) so you don't freak out when a recipe tells you something.
Also.... Have a lovely sharp knife and knife sharpener! No need to spend a fortune.
I know it sounds silly but a sharp knife can make you feel so much better when cooking as cutting veg and meat will be a breeze, especially if a recipe tells you you need to chop things small. This made things so much less stressful for me. (my mum got me my first cheap knife and sharpener to help me cook). Just mind your pinkies when you first start using them!
Also youtube guides on best ways to dice/ slice etc if you feel scared. They will help you fill more confident with using a sharp knife.
Remember to taste everything as you go along! (which is lush to do LOL!)
hugs Don't be afraid and start small.
Try making soups. Bloody brill for using up nearly dead veg so you don't throw anything out! For veg soups chop up small and put in a pan with some stock (veg or chicken one). Simmer for about 20 mins or until veg is cooked. You can have it chunky or blitz (or half and half). If you want to add meat then cut up into small chunks and brown and then bung in some veg and stock cube and cook for about 20 mins (use stock cube for whatever meat you are using or just use chicken if that is all you have).
If you think it tastes a bit "weak" crumble in half a stock cube and stir away until dissolved and taste again.
My 2fav soup recipes (very easy!)
Carrot and onion
Large onion- finely (small) chopped
Big handful of carrots (including those near death) - chopped however you like. no need to peel if clean!
stock cubes and boiling water from the kettle (veg or chicken cubes)
Fry chopped onions for about 5 mins in some veg oil over a medium heat stirring so it doesn't brown.
Remove onions and add to a deep saucepan.
Bung in carrots into frying pan and cook for about 5 mins.
Put carrots into saucepan with onions.
Make up veg (or chicken) stock for about a litre or until veg is all covered.
Put stock in pan with veg and bring to boil and then lower heat and cook for about 20 mins or until carrots are soft..
Then blitz everything until smooth and then taste. Add a bit of salt and pepper if you think it needs it (add tiny bits and taste as you go).
chicken and noodle soup
finely sliced raw chicken boob (1 serves 2 adults)
finely sliced mushrooms, leeks, cabbage or other veg you like!
chicken stock (about a litre for 2 servings)
dried noodles (like you get for stirfries) 1 bit per person.
Optional - Sliced chillis or chilli flakes or chilli oil if you like it spicy!!
Basically make up chicken stock with boiling water and add to large saucepan. (I use 2 stock cubes for 2 servings). Taste the stock. if you like it a bit stronger flavour crumble up half a stock cube at a time until it is to your liking.
bring stock to a boil. Add all the other ingredients to stock and cook for about 4 mins stirring to separate noodles. Chicken will take hardly any time to cook as is nice and thin.
Serve with shop bought naan bread heated under grill (really nice to dip!) (I have those packaged garlic and corinader naan bread in cupboard all the time and last ages)
From there you can upgrade to stews!!!
My DP fav is my chicken stew.
I used cheap defrosted chicken thighs/ legs (or buy cheap fresh chicken legs and chop them in half with your sharp knife!) Keep the skin on.
Just use as many as you need to feed your family.
When you start to feel more confident, use a cheap chicken and cut it up (or get DH to use his caveman skills to cut through any bones if you are a bit scared). From one cheap chicken I can get 8 pieces of chicken to use (I paid £3.60 for last large chicken) plus a carcass to make chicken stock for chicken broth and loads of hidden meat on the carcass as well.
Chicken thighs/ drumsticks/ boobies - (as many as you need. skin on if possible)
Carrots/ Leeks/ Spuds/ any other root veg - (as many as you need all roughly chopped into biggish chunks big enough to shove in your mouth- no need to peel carrots/spuds. Even use the green bit of leek. no need for delicate here!) (peas/ green beans can be used as can sliced white cabbage - just add around 20 -30 mins before end of cooking time)
salt and pepper (I use garlic salt)
optional - wine/ port/ sloe gin - if you have it hanging around to spare. if not don't panic
optional - bay leaf - again if you have one
Mix a good bit of salt and pepper into some plain flour (instead of normal salt I use garlic salt, ruddy love that stuff) then coat the chicken bits in the flour.
Brown chicken bits in frying pan with some veg oil on a medium heat. (You just need to lightly brown the outside so no need to cook them all the way though).
Once chicken is browned I remove and then fry the veg for a bit in batches. (except peas/ green beans and cabbage)
put the veg and frying pans juices in the bottom of a heavy pan (with lid) suitable for stove or oven use. (I have one of the cast iron dutch ovens my DP bought me years ago). If using peas/ green beans/ sliced cabbage leave to one side and add 30 mins before end of cooking time.
boil the kettle and make up stock cube as per instructions, repeat until stock covers the veg.
If you feel fancy and have a bottle open add some white or red wine or even some port or sloe gin in the back of the drinks cupboard (anything from a splash to a small cup full!) and you can add a bay leaf if you have one. (just remember to fish it out before you serve)
Give it all a good stir then add the chicken on top of the veg and stock (stock should just cover the chicken) bring to boil, cover pan and simmer on lowest heat you have for about 2 hours. (or you can bung it in the oven on about 150c if you don't have a suitable pan for the stove)
Check it every now and then and give it a stir so bits don't stick to the bottom.
Add in peas/ green beans/ cabbage if using 30 mins before end of cooking time.
After 2 hours if there is a lot of stock left then up the heat and remove lid to boil some off for about 5 mins. Taste the sauce in there. If its taste a bit wishy washy remove the chicken and then crumble up half a stock cube if need be and stir until dissolved (should be no need to add salt and pepper)
if you forget and the sauce is too concentrated top up with some boiled water a bit at a time until you like the taste.
If you want to be extra fancy, take out the chicken bits (it may fall apart!) and fry it skin side down in hot frying pan with oil to crisp it up a bit before serving.
Want a different meat then chop up the meat, dust in flour and fry for a few mins to brown outside and use a stock cube for the meat concerned (like beef/ pork... (I use veg cubes for pork and tastes ok!)
I serve homemade white sodabread with my soups and stews and is DEAD easy OP!!
Do a search for white sodabread using white flour. basically its just a case of putting everything in a bowl and mix together then shape it into a round on a dusted baking sheet, slice a big cross over the top and bake in preheated oven for allocated time. Tap it's bum and if it makes a "hollow" sound its done. Take out and cool. (makes lovely toast the next day)
And don't be scared if it says to use "buttermilk". Just pour out milk to whatever ml they say and add a squirt of lemon juice, stir and leave for about 15 mins... this will slightly thicken the milk and then add to dry ingredients). Is cheap as chips as I use value plain flour and a pack of baking soda lasts a long time.
For spag bol my recipe is this:
Large onion, finely chopped
4 mushrooms finely chopped
Some garlic puree (or large garlic bulb pushed through a garlic press thingie)
500g pack of beef mince
2 tins cheap chopped toms
tomato puree or tommy kechup
salt and pepper and sugar
fry the onions and mushrooms in some veg oil medium heat for about 5 mins. Add garlic (so it doesn't burn) and cook for another 2-3 mins.
remove veg and put to one side.
Fry the mince, bash it up with a wooden spoon to break up the mince (or I do it by hand sometimes before I fry it). Cook until it is brown.
In a large saucepan (or I have a large frying pan with high sides and lid) put in mince and onions/ mushrooms. Add 2 tins of chopped toms (I use value). Add a good squirt of tomato puree or tomato ketchup. Add some salt and pepper and some sugar. (toms can be a bit sharp tasting) give it a stir!
Cook REALLY LOW on your lowest heat for about 1-2 hours with a lid on pan. I know it sounds long but it really helps with a lovely rich spag sauce. Give it a stir every 15-20mins or so to make sure nothing catches on the bottom . keep an eye on it the longer it cooks to avoid a burnt bottom!
Start tasting after about an hour... does it taste a bit "sharp"? if so add a little bit more sugar. add more tom puree or ketchup if you want a more tomato taste (it's all down to how you like it!) Add a teeny bit more salt and pepper if it tastes a bit bland as well. just add a little, stir well and taste until it is how you like it.
(i don't add carrots as DP doesn't like it when I do)
I serve with pasta and homemade garlic bread. Homemade garlic bread is easy as well OP hugs
for the garlic butter just soften some salted butter (not marg!) in microwave on defrost for about 5 seconds bursts until soft (not runny!). Add in a crushed garlic clove or minced garlic from a jar (or whatever garlic thing you have) and mix. give it a teeny taste so you know if you need more garlic to make it stronger or more butter if too strong for you.
Once you are happy then get some clingfilm and add garlic butter and roll into a sausage shape and put in fridge to harden up.
I use partbaked value baguettes (really handy to have on standby). Cook the baguettes according to instructions. once done, remove and cool slightly. then slice the baquette (not all the way through) and take garlic butter from fridge and thinly slice it and stuff the slices into the cuts. Once done, wrap in foil and cook in preheated oven (170 for me) for about 8 - 10 mins.
chicken fajitas - easy cheap version!
Sachet of fajita flavouring
Chicken boobs (around 500g) thinly sliced.
2 large peppers thinly sliced
2 large onions thinly sliced
Pack of cheap shop own tortilla wraps.
heat a large frying pan, add some oil.
Throw the chicken and veg and stir fry for about 3 mins.
Add seasoning and cook for another 4 mins or until chicken it cooked and veg still crunchy.
warm wraps in microwave.
Put everything on the table and let them make their own wraps. You can grate some cheese and even thinly sliced lettuce to go with the wraps to bulk them out. No need for sour cream etc unless you like it then get some just for you.
Do you have a slow cooker? There is a great slow cooker page on FB slow cookers rock, which is supportive and has good ideas. Pulled pork is an easy favourite of mine.
Maybe set aside a time once a week to try a recipe, make double and serve it twice in the week.
TBH, having a pickyeater, critical OH isn't helping you any! Do it for you, he can make himself a bowl of cereal if he doesn't like it.
Goodness badcat, we had a three course meal while you typed that
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