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Help me enjoy cooking!(6 Posts)
I really want to be able to enjoy cooking but I just can't. It stresses me out, because I just can't seem to manage to plan food that:
- is nutritious
- doesn't get wasted (fresh stuff going off before we can use it)
- doesn't hike up my food bill
- doesn't take ages to prepare after getting home from work/while wrangling children
- doesn't involve batch cooking (tiny freezer and no space to buy bigger)
Does anyone have the secret or am I going to have to accept that I can't achieve all the above?? 🙈
I feel your pain, I'd love to know too! I've even bought an insta pot thinking that might solve everything, but I'm still struggling with food that goes off. I've currently reverted back to planning and shopping for just one day or two in advance. But that isn't working either when I don't get time to run to the shops. A lot of healthy recipes seem call for daft ingredients you only use half of then end up chucking away. I'm sorry I don't have any answers for you, OP. But following to pick up any tips!
How about something like hello fresh etc, I'm sure somewhere online you can get a discount code. This has everything you need for a recipe. Once you get used to putting the recipe together and get confidence you can start cooking on your own
The way I get round most of that is just using recipes for inspiration / a base and only using recipes that call for the sort of stuff I use anyway.
This means anything by Jamie Oliver is usually off the menu!!
So if a recipe has dried herbs / spices / oils etc then I will buy them but generally I susbsitute or omit anything too out of the ordinary,
You can batch cook without a freezer eg we had gammon, cauli cheese, wedges and veg last night. I made a massive cauli cheese and will add macaroni and a bit of extra cheese sauce to make another dinner.
Bolognaise = lasagne
Chillli = tacos / enchiladas
Casserole = pie
And all of the above plus jacket potato. Does your oven / any other kitchen gadgets have a timer?? Definitely learn how to use it so you can get stuff on the go before you get home eg potatoes.
Ask / research the zillions of threads about meal planning - don't go too mad but maybe try 2 new dishes a week. Slowly you will add to your repertoire. Take photos of your meal plans or put them all in one place so you can easily flip through past ones for inspiration.
Don't be tied to recipes - eg sausages, mash and freezer veg. or jacket potatoes, salad and cooked chicken (bought) takes minutes to put together once spud is cooked.
Work out shortcuts you are happy with eg I use packets of vegetable micro rice - plus oven baked fish plus veg is a very easy dinner with no waste.
Plan in a 'fridge harvest' meal every few days and get inventive to use up leftovers. Currys / pasta sauce / soup / pies (use shop pastry) are good for that.
And yes to recipe boxes. They are expensive but teach great techniques which took my cooking up a notch. I don't use them anymore but it was good to have 1 a month for about a year.
I meal plan basically for Mon-Fri each week, then on weekends we're a lot more flexible and often eat out or buy something to be cooked that day eg. A roast on Sunday so then we don't want much more than soup for dinner.
I get everything delivered in one go - I meal plan based on what's left in the fridge and the cupboards to make sure stuff doesn't go off. And use fresh ingredients earlier in the week.
I also choose recipes that might have longer cooking time but shorter active time, eg a traybake takes 10 mins to prep but 30 mins in the oven or a slow roast for 90 mins in which time I am wrangling children, tidying, putting on a wash etc. I often get home, prep dinner, bath and bed for the kids while food in oven and then eat afterwards. Kids eat earlier than we do, usually a portion from our dinner the night before, or something quick like a pouch of Tilda tomato rice with peas and mackerel flaked through, a sandwich, or the famed MN "picky bits" if they've had a hot dinner at school and aren't feeling like something hot.
So an example meal plan:
Mon: pasta shells with ricotta and frozen spinach
Tues: veggie burgers, cut up vegetables
Weds: roast chicken, garlic mayo, roast new potatoes, green salad (literally just a torn up butter lettuce with vinaigrette)
Thurs: chicken noodle soup
Fri: pizza night (bought!)
I also have a few cookbooks which have proven themselves for this kind of "short active time" cooking - Cook Simple by Diana Henry, the Roasting Tin books by Rukmini Ayer, the "fast food" chapter of Nigella's How to Eat.
I know you said small freezer no batch cooking but is there room for frozen things like fish and veg ( chopped onions, BNS, sweet potato etc). These really help with wastage, cut down time and are healthy and quick to cook.
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