I don’t really like cooking. Well – that’s not entirely true. I don’t like cooking most things. Occasionally, I’ll have a fit of domesticity and will try out a few new recipes I’ve watched on the TV. Despite me not being a fan of cooking, I have a bit of an obsession with cooking shows!
I’m quite lucky that Graham is really good at cooking and loves doing it. In fact, before we had the kids he was considering going to college and training to be a chef, although life happened and he never got round to it. We cook from scratch as often as we can and batch make meals so that we always have a supply of homemade ‘ready meals’ in the freezer for nights where we don’t have time to cook. The only time we have ever bought ready meals was when we moved house two weeks before Benjamin was born – I’m pretty sure even the most die-hard of home cookers would forgive us for that one! We do usually have a supply of frozen chicken nuggets and pizzas in the freezer as well because like most kids, the boys love them.
There are a few things that we choose the most convenient and the most ‘lazy’ option for, however. They are things that we just can’t seem to replicate as well or are just simply easier to use. Last week, I did some Instagram stories showing me preparing a beef and mushroom pie that I was making. For a split second whilst I was uploading them, I was worried people would judge me for using a few shortcuts. Turns out that quite a lot of the people who watched them do exactly the same thing and that most people do use the odd shortcut or convenience food. So, here are a few of the main things that we use to save money/time or generally to make life a little bit easier!
Frozen Yorkshire Puddings
I’ve tried. I really have. I can make a mean Toad in the Hole but when it comes to individual Yorkshire puddings, they fall flat – literally. I think we pay something like 45p for a bag of 12 from Asda and they taste pretty decent, so we’d be daft not to!
Not only are they so much easier to cook (literally chuck them in a saucepan of water rather than peeling them and chopping them), but they save us a fortune. When I’ve bought fresh veg in the past, we’ve ended up chucking lots away when they’ve gone a bit sad and manky in the fridge drawer. Buying them frozen means we never waste any and always have some to hand. Plus, they are apparently better for you than fresh vegetables because the nutritents and shizzle are retained. The only time I buy fresh vegetables is at Christmas (because fresh sprouts do taste marginally better!) and if I’m making broccoli or cauliflower cheese.
Pre-chopped and frozen onions, mushroom and garlic
We’ve only just started buying these – I was sick of throwing away shrivelled up mushrooms every week. Having a bag of frozen (and pre-sliced!) mushrooms in the freezer means I can grab a handful and throw them into the cottage pie/bolognaise/curry etc. Same with onions – although we weren’t chucking as many away, I couldn’t stand the watering eyes much longer whilst I was trying to cook. I don’t think it costs any more to buy them frozen and pre-chopped and it saves so much time!
I do, when I can be bothered, make shortcrust pastry for things like mince pies and jam tarts. However, there’s not a chance in hell that I will attempt to make puff pastry (I’ve watched too many episodes of The Great British Bake Off to even try!) and when we are making a pie for dinner, it is so much easier to grab a roll of the ready-made stuff. You know it’s going to be alright and there’s no faffing. Life is too short to make pastry!
Gravy granules/ready-made stock
I have never ever made gravy from scratch – you know, using meat juices and whatever else you add to it to turn it into a gravy. I haven’t got a clue what to do, to be honest. I usually turn to a tub of Bisto gravy granules or occasionally, a ready-made stock cube or stock pot.
Jars of Curry Sauce
This is one I hate using and avoid as much as possible. Curries from scratch are the one thing I do enjoy making, and I’m not too bad at it – there’s something about combining spices to create something yummy. However, they are quite time-consuming and sometimes, a jar is the easiest option. Also, Alex, our fussy pants, is very particular about having a particular brand of butter chicken curry sauce. I’ve made it – and it tasted a lot better – but he will only eat the jarred stuff. Still, once in a while isn’t going to hurt!
Super, super lazy and to be honest, there is no other reason for it other than I bloody hate grating cheese (and to save anyone having grated knuckle mixed in!). We get through a lot of cheese – and for sandwiches and cheese on toast and stuff like that, we stick to proper blocks of cheese to cut ourselves. We’ve pretty much always got a bag of pre-grated cheese in the fridge though for putting on top of cottage pie, baked potatoes, lasagnes etc.
What cooking shortcuts do you use? I’d love to know (and maybe steal a few!). Let me know in the comments!