Ready, Steady, Cook
August 28, 2015
There has been something of a state of chaos in Hudson HQ recently… some small home improvements to the kitchen and bathroom took longer than anticipated and much more of our time than we had first reckoned. Getting home from busy days at our respective offices and then “cracking on” with the DIY meant that food rather took a back seat – particularly as, at one point the gas supply and the water needed to be turned off.. leaving just the microwave and slow cooker for our “hot food” options.
Lovely husband and I were both flagging when we headed to the supermarket for our weekly shop and, simply for ease and convenience, we picked up some “ready meals”. These were the “healthy option” variety... not the full fat/high salt/hidden sugar offerings that used to regularly filled our fridge – but since embarking on our WLR they have disappeared from our weekly shopping list.
It was only when the microwave went “ding” (after seven minutes) and we tucked in to our “nukeable lasagne” that we realised that, although quick and convenient, the “ready meals” could not be described as “tasty” when compared to what we had been eating since ditching the “speed dial meals”.
By now I know some of you are saying.. “yes, it’s okay for you, you have time to prepare 'home cooked meals'…” Let me assure you that time is always at a premium here at HQ but the reality is that “home cooked” doesn’t cost us any more in terms of time than the ready-meal fast-fix.
Our “Faff-Free” WLR recipe book is invaluable when we want to prepare something quick and nutritious. The preparation times are minimal and, once it’s in the oven, I am free to do “other stuff” whilst it is cooking. I can make batches for storing in the freezer and I know exactly what is in what I put into my body.
Last week home-made burgers were on the menu. I had “small people” as kitchen assistants who thought that the mushy mess of flour, lean mince and egg was “better than plasticine” and although the burgers are not perfect circles and would not pass muster in a Michelin-starred restaurant, their “wonkiness” makes me smile as I remember the fun we had making them... and they taste delicious. A batch of eight means that Lovely Husband and I can enjoy them for the next few weeks and we know we will have a tasty “home cooked” supper that will take only a few minutes to cook under our “fat reducing grill”.
The slow cooker is equally useful. We can spend half an hour in the kitchen chopping, slicing and dicing… then it all gets thrown into the slow cooker, which works its magic overnight. Next morning, whilst waiting for the tea to brew, it is decanted into containers and stored in the freezer. Five minutes and more lovely food to enjoy for the rest of the month.
Even when I am actually “cooking” I find that instead of “taking up time” it actually provides me “with time”. When the chops are under the grill I can do a quick clean of the kitchen; whilst the home made pizza (which takes about five minutes to assembly) is the oven I can vacuum the living room; even the time when the new potatoes and pan of vegetables is on the hob can be used to give the bath a clean or mop the kitchen floor.
The other bonus for me is the huge reduction in plastic and packaging – so much of which is not able to be recycled. Nowadays my food waste bin is full of stalks and stems from fresh vegetables; apple cores and fruit peel; and my use of “black bags” has more than halved – simply because I have so much less packaging to discard.
The “home cooked” meals do take a few more minutes... but in that time I fit in other chores, or just have conversations with family members – it is perfect “catch up time”. It feels like a profitable and productive use of my time and I feel completely control of my eating habits, choices and what I’m using to fuel my body.
In a strange way the kitchen chaos was a good thing… it made us both realise that “home-made” can be almost a quick as “convenience” foods but the benefits in taste; the feeling of accomplishment in having made it ourselves; and the ease of “batch cooking” mean that extra few minutes it may take are more than made up for by the sense of wellbeing and achievement. It isn’t for everyone, but Lovely Husband and I have discovered that “ready, steady… Cook” definitely works for us!