Cooking a good meal for your family has never been tougher. It’s not that the supermarkets and local traders aren’t brimming with great ingredients to throw in a pan or put in the oven. You can’t blame lack of inspiration either – you can see great dishes being cooked on TV literally 24 hours a day, and find anything you want at the touch of a button on the internet.
What makes it so tough is that in today’s world, we just don’t have the time for all that chopping, marinating or whatever that TV chef told us will earn the adoration of our families. By the time we’ve been to work, and run our errands that tax our patience, the last thing you want to be doing is cooking.
So, as a working parent in a two-career home, here are a few meal ideas that make life easier. Hopefully, they’ll work for you too.
#1 Chilli con Carne
Easy to make with a wealth of recipes out there for meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. The real value here though, is this translates so easily into a ‘bulk cook’. You’ve got one lot of shopping and chopping, and provided you’ve got a big enough pot, you can do three or four weeks worth in one go.
Tupperware containers and freezer space are your friends here too, and with those on your side, this is an almost guaranteed winner. Any eyebrow raises or eye rolls about ‘chilli again’ can be easily deflected by opening a bag of chips and adding salsa, sour cream and guacamole (all from out of jars naturally).
#2 Spaghetti Bolognese
Another ‘bulk cook’ that won’t take over your life, and one with enough recipes online that you can’t fail to find one that suits your taste and dietary choices. Cook it up once, and the biggest challenge three weeks out of four is grating the parmesan. Add garlic bread as a distraction if it seems a bit like the same over and over again.
#3 Salmon with Mediterranean vegetables
OK, this comes under the heading of salmon, but this counts for pretty much anything where you can throw everything in the oven at the start, go off for 20-25 minutes and come back and it looks like you’ve done ‘proper cheffing’. Remember to chop the root veg up smaller than your courgettes or mushrooms, and be generous with the balsamic vinegar.
Looks great, smells amazing and should deflect any moans about not liking fish. Now then, that leaves two days …
You’re busy. Even with bulk cooking and doing a drop and run meal in the oven, some days you aren’t going to be bothered.
So for one of those two days, there is the very modern convenience of having it brought to you. You don’t have to make up your mind immediately, and you can always plan ahead so you’ve got a few Deliveroo gift vouchers or similar to make the whole process seamless.
That leaves just one weekday night …
This last night, which is often a favourite, is the one where you do something different. This is the one where you turn to your significant other and say, “Tonight – it’s your turn to cook…”