food-planning hacks for newbie cooks
Take the pressure off meal times with a few of these handy hints.
So what if you’re not a natural-born Maggie Beer or Ina Garten? We’re sure you have other cool talents. The thing is, cooking is a pretty useful skill to have, especially when you’re trying to save some dosh or it’s the apocalypse and you need to gussy up roast rat with foraged berries. Though you may never be a chef, there are ways you can improve your confidence in the kitchen, which will take the pressure off meal times and help you cut back on exxy take away. Don’t let one of life’s greatest pleasures (read: stuffing your face) stress you out. Bon appetit!
fuck food shame Instagram is absolutely guilty as charged when it comes to making people feel bad about their home-cooking skills. Anything dotted with edible flowers, plated on a cute ceramic dish and placed on a linen tablecloth is going to look beautiful; don’t compare your homemade dishes to the work of professional cooks and influencers. They’ve probably spent hours making those cakes look like works of art. There’s nothing wrong with eating the same meals every day (yes, you can have spag bol whenever you want), and using ingredients you already know you love. Embrace what you like, before trying to impress anyone else.
outsource it Outsourcing meals and meal prep might seem costly, until you factor in things like your time, labour and whether or not tasks you don’t like doing end up costing you money in the long run. For example, if you hate going to the supermarket so much that you end up paying regularly for takeaway, you’re actually better off having your groceries delivered. When decision-making is your biggest battle, try having pre-selected fruit and vegetable boxes delivered by your local green grocer. If you love cooking but don’t have time for the shops, opt for a meal-delivery service.
make ‘taco tuesday’ a regular thing Speaking of spag bol, how about ‘spag bol Saturdays’? Though helpful for home cooks who love to make lists, weekly meal plans can be a bit overwhelming for beginners. An easier way to plan meals is to set aside days of the week for your favourite dishes. If you know you can whip up your mum’s curry in a jiffy, make it every Wednesday and call it your Hump Day Curry. Making an occasion out of a weekly meal will make it more exciting, and having three or four 'special' meal days a week will leave you with only a few days when you need to think of something else to cook.
when in doubt, put an egg on it Eggs turn everything into a meal. We’re not kidding. Have you got a random collection of leftover foods? Whack ‘em in a pan, top with a fried egg and voila, you have breakfast, lunch or dinner. Got a can of tomato sauce? Bake it with some eggs. Only got two-minute noodles in the pantry? Put an egg on it. Eggs are relatively inexpensive, and they’re usually much less stressful to cook than animal proteins like chicken, steak or fish. If you want to feed a group of people, start making frittatas. You can have a frittata every day of the week with whatever ingredients you think sound scrummy.
treat herbs like flowers Everything looks and tastes fancier when it’s sprinkled with fresh herbs (just ask the Instagram pros). Even easy dishes, like scrambled eggs or chicken soup, feel so much cooler when you chuck a handful of herbs on top. A plateful of fresh herbs, topped with nuts and dressing, makes for a rad side salad too. If you’re avoiding fresh herbs because they tend to die a quick death in the bottom of your veg drawer, start thinking about your herbs like you would flowers. Pop them in a vase with water and they’ll last much longer (they’ll also look super-pretty on your bench top). Supermarkets often sell them with their roots, so you can plant them in batches when they start to look too sad to eat.