Born a child of two parents who were always on the go I grew up on a steady diet of fish fingers and baked beans chosen purely for their convenience in heating as opposed to cooking. Though it is not the best food to feed your child I don’t seem to harbour any ill effects apart from one.
An unequivocal inherited dislike of cooking.
When my parents separated and we moved back to the family homestead, being Maori meant not only having our nuclear family to feed but everyone else in between, on the perimeter and neighbouring colonies.
Ok slight exaggeration, but can you imagine having to prepare food for that many people and being perpetually stuck in the role of apprentice chef?
I for one don’t need to!
Everyday like clock work I was tasked with peeling mountains of spuds, wrestling pumpkins and cutting up sweet potatoes with what was little more than a butter knife. There’s also no forgetting the laborious work of scaling fish and de-tonguing kinas (sea urchin) in the height of summer either.
It’s no wonder I learned to hate cooking.
Getting the food prepared was torture enough for this woman. There was no way I was going to cook it too!
Consequently in my efforts to avoid anything to do with this heinous torture, I’ve tried and tested it all and have discovered in my wisdom that:
>Eating toast gets old when it’s breakfast lunch and dinner seven days a week.
>Frozen meals from the supermarket are filled with a trillion green beans! It should be noted that beans cooked in such ways is a crime against foodmanity!
>Nightly take-out results in a continuously expanding waistline while inducing a mild budget crisis.
>Self invites to friends or families houses at the exact time dinner is served are soon worn out.
Suffice to say I have come full circle.
A girl has got to eat, and good, proper nutritious meals. Seen as I cannot afford my own personal chef, I need to be taking care of my fabulous self in the best way frugally possible.
How does one woman who hates cooking do it?
Don’t spend one hour cooking one meal when you can spend the same hour cooking twelve. Simple logic I know but this discovery somehow eluded me until the most recent of years. Don’t you be that person.
Keep in mind I do still very much resent having to cook (if I ever win lotto a personal chef is my first priority), but the thought of wasting good food is what keeps me going back to the kitchen.
My 6 tips to batch cooking:
Keep it simple
Be prepared to eat the same meal for days at a time.
This is definitely not a given. However if you want more diversity in your meals, it means more labouring in the kitchen, more food costs, and more time of which you do not want to spend cooking. I keep it simple by choosing two large meals to cook and portioning them out.
This comes down to what will freeze well.
You cannot keep all your cooked food in a refrigerator for weeks. Funky smells aside it will grow all manner of nasties on it. If you prefer some meals that can’t be frozen eat them first and freeze the other for later.
Make it edible
I made a vegetable curry once and the potatoes were still raw. No amount of heating could make them un-raw. Forcing myself to eat it didn’t work either, thought I gave it a good shot before throwing it all out.
Wasted food equals wasted money!
Invest in good kitchenware
I wasn’t kidding about the butter knife, but I suppose in fairness I couldn’t very well be given a butcher knife, less I stab myself for being forced into modern slavery.
It is my firm belief having decent kitchenware will mean using less oil when cooking, minimise burning disasters and reduce the impact on your hands caused when you are trying to cut a rock hard vegetable with a blunt instrument.
Purchase decent containers
These should be good quality and small enough to hold single servings unless you have plenty of mouths to feed at once.
Cheap takeout containers do not last! You do not want to find that the one day you are looking forward to your delicious Lee Kum Kee chicken only to find it has been freezer burned to hell.
Keep a list of core meals
I don’t actually have a cookbook or folder as such. That’s entirely too consuming for this lazy cook. I keeping a running list in my mind of what I like to eat. Stir-fries, curries, the standard veggies and meat, chicken nibbles and frittatas. All easy, all cookable in 60 minutes give or a take.
Subscribe for more frugal tips to come and as always readers any more helpful tips on this one would be a gratefully accepted.