BIG DISCLAIMER: Apart from the “baked camembert”, I’ve not actually tried any of the recipes I’ve linked to on this post; I’ve just chosen them because they looked good!!! You can always google alternative recipes if necessary 🙂
I’ve just read an article about cooking burnout on Huffpost
My HW blog is not really the place for my own response post, but since I’ve currently got no where else to post it, I’ll post it here.
My mind got to thinking of a few ways to overcome this, and this is what I thought of:
1. Embrace simplicity generally
If you are cooking for yourself or your family I guess it might be tempting to want all your meals to resemble restaurant-level showpieces. However I would say this is a difficult time, we are all tired, at risk of various types of burnout – give yourself some leeway! If the vast majority of your meals are easy-peesy, then every so often you can invest more effort into something more elaborate. In short, this is a time when we are all focused on survival, there’s no shame in adopting a survival mentality for our food!
2. Anticipate burnout/tiredness.
Know that there will be times when you just will not feel bothered to cook, when even the slightest effort seems too much – and plan accordingly, shop accordingly, fill your fridge, freezer and store cupboards accordingly.
Off the top of my head, these are meals which require very little preparation:
*Jacket potatoes: These require little preparation, but do take a while to cook at least in the oven. OR you could make them in batches, keep in fridge until needed. Perhaps if cooking with children, allow them to mix together the sauce/filling, can be as simple as mayo and cheese
*Grilled cheese on toast
*Baked camembert: after having this at a friend’s house a few Christmases ago, I made this for the first time just on Sunday (20th Dec), and ate it with a shop bought baguette. Seriously, this is the definition of easy, and from experience makes a great, simple but utterly delicious festive starter – or even main course. (Do have a quick read through a recipe before you actually buy the camembert though – ie make sure you buy one that comes in a wooden box). If you can’t even bring yourself to tear up/slice up a baguette, or some pittas, then you can always use breadsticks!
Anything that can be boiled from a packet eg:
*Pasta/Couscous – perhaps here the key is to avoid elaborate sauces, but be content with sprinking on some cheese or mixing in some pesto
*You know those instant noodles you get? Not very healthy, but OK once in a while. I actually once almost made myself ill by not boiling the noodles long enough – to my amazement! – so please be warned!
Things that you can buy that you can just pop in the oven:
*Countless commercially available pies, frozen items
Other things that you can buy/keep in the fridge
*Bread (and spreads – alongside ketchup, mayonnaise and brown sauce, also mustard, horseradish sauce, etc, chocolate spread: Lidl now do an amazingly convincing and affordable “Nutella” copy – “Choco Nussa” sooooooo good! Oooh look, Good Housekeeping agree with me! (No2 on the list))
*Meal idea: sliced boiled egg on toast with cheese/mayo
*Baked beans on toast: it’s a cliche for a reason! Perhaps you could jazz it up with a boiled egg or cheese and/or exciting condiments
Things that don’t require refrigeration:
*Cereal: yes, I have eaten cereal for supper more than once during this lockdown!
*Oatcakes: to be topped up with a quick and easy sauce or relish, eaten with hot tea or soup (instant packet soup?) for a super-light meal
Nigerian food: Nigerian food is notoriously time-consuming. Here are a few simple alternatives:
*Skin on roasted plantains: (link to recipe) you don’t even have to peel the plantain. Just top and tail it, prick it all over, put in a hot oven, serve with Nigerian stew, hot butter, olive oil, or whatever else you wish
*Boiled (white) rice with stew: this works when you have some Nigerian stew ready and waiting in the fridge, or in the freezer. For a quick improvisation, cook up some chopped tomatoes from a tin in some cooking oil – olive, coconut, vegetable, sunflower, corn oil – with some seasoning. Note: please use chopped tomatoes, rather than whole plum tomatoes – speaks the voice of bitter experience!!! – Or quickly whizz up chopped/whole with a handblender.
You could also use brown/wholegrain rice, but that takes a while to cook, so requires a little more forethought
THINGS THAT I HAVE GOT TO THINK OF/ADD TO THIS LIST:
Healthy food, eg vegetables
Fruit that can just be washed and eaten, eg banana (with yoghurt?), mangoes – quick and easy dessert?
Focusing on affordable food
You know the irony is that I love food. My problem appears to be the exact opposite of other people’s: after a lockdown of eating very simply and monotonously (pasta – yawn!) I am growing increasingly “foodie”. I can’t stop dreaming of beautiful dishes to prepare. This includes my traditional Nigerian dishes, as well as Western dishes and foods from all various places. After watching perhaps one too many food preparation videos on Facebook I’ve been tipped over the edge, and I actually ran out to buy the ingredients for “Beijing Beef” (Facebook link), a dish which I am now planning for Christmas day. It would definitely have been a Nigerian dish for Christmas day, namely yam pottage, also called “porridge”, and spicy goat stew, maybe accompanied with some super-soft and succulent fried plantain, or “dodo”, but unfortunately I don’t have easy access to Nigerian ingredients where I am living just now 🙁 (Yeah, something else that we do in my culture is that we eat really well! On second thoughts perhaps this is the correct blog for this post after all: Huggie-Wuggie are you reading this?! Feeling hungry yet?!!!!!)