The majority of people, when asked why they don’t cook much, will probably say “I just don’t have the time.” And often, even if they do have the time, by the end of the day they don’t have the energy. It’s an excuse that’s completely understandable. Finding the time to feed yourself is hard, so I’ve pulled together a few of my beliefs when it comes to cooking on a busy schedule. Tried and tested.
1. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to pour hours of work into something for it to be tasty. These days, there are countless chefs bringing out cookbooks designed specifically for saving time, full of great recipes that fit into busy lives. Sometimes, just knowing which bits in your fridge are friends, and chucking them on a plate together, is enough for the perfect meal.
Likewise, not everything has to be done from scratch. If a recipe calls for homemade pastry, ignore it. Justroll is a glorious alternative. Cutting corners shouldn’t be frowned upon, it should be embraced. When it comes to feeding yourself well, it’s not really about the journey, it’s about the result. Why not buy a pizza and pimp it up with your own toppings? Shop-bought classics can be made glorious with a little bit of added oomph.
2. Someone learning the reigns won’t be speedy at the start; a Jamie’s 15 minute meal could take over an hour, and their repertoire of reliable dishes will be limited. But the more they learn, the easier it will become – it’s just about putting the time in at the start. For busy beginners, I’d recommend watching foodie YouTube videos (I like to do this whilst eating my lunch). Even five minute clips can give you ideas and inspiration, and by watching a pro in the kitchen you can soak up useful tips and tricks that will help save time. My personal favourite is Jamie’s Food Tube – he’s always offering up great bits of advice, and his channel is for any level of skill. I would also recommend leaching ideas from your friends and family. If you know someone who likes to cook, ask them for their favourite quick-fix recipes! Ask your mum how she makes her cheese sauce, or your housemate how he does his homemade chips. You’ll absolutely learn the most from the people around you.
3. There’s no way you have to cook every night. Even the finest chefs have days when they just can’t be bothered – not to mention those days when you really, really don’t have the time. To this I say: make the most of the moments when you do have the wherewithal. If you’re making a spag bol, do enough to feed a large family, portion it up and fill your freezer. A well-stocked freezer will save you tons of cash you might have spent on takeaways. Though the odd treat is obviously important too…
4. If you haven’t got time to cook, make time. This is my biggest belief: give your stomach some priority. If you get home from lectures or work and sit on the sofa watching TV, then spare a slice of that time on your dinner. The most important thing you can learn is how to view cooking as an activity, not a chore. It’s and active rest which switches you off from daytime stress whilst engaging your brain in other ways. Plus – who’s to stop you from eating that marvelous plate of grub on the sofa?