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How to cook, when you don't like cooking

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cookLet’s all help Pam be a zero hero!

She’s made the brave Zero Waste Week pledge to reduce packaging that comes into her home BUT she lives on her own and tends to buy pre packaged meals.

She’s not a big fan of cooking or spending a lot of time in the kitchen and is after some quick and simple meals for one person.

Here was the response I gave before putting it out to our wonderful Facebook community and newsletter subscribers:

If you don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen, then how about looking at your favourite meals and seeing if there are other, less packaged or ‘easily recycled’ packaged options? For example my husband used to buy curries in black plastic trays. I didn’t have time to cook so we switched to buying curry sauce in a glass jar (which could be recycled or reused) and chicken from the local butcher (which was bought in my own reusable containers). It was pretty simple to fry an onion (bought loose), add the chicken and pour over a jar of sauce. I used to make a batch of it and freeze. Yes, it was more hassle than ripping the top off a plastic tray and sticking it in the oven, but I was prepared to put the time in.

And I loved all your suggestions too – here’s what you came up with:

Anna said “I suggest making a large batch of a straightforward bolognaise sauce or mincemeat dish such as cottage pie, which could be frozen in smaller portions. That way, the cooking time is reduced significantly.”

Suella said “If she has a microwave she can do a lot of things that don’t say microwave on them, like boil in the bag rice. I’d also recommend a two-sided microwave omelet pan – just fill with eggs and whatever you fancy like cheese or mushrooms or chopped tomatoes.

She went on to say “If Pam  really was an untrained  cook then I’d suggest buying big family ready made meals and freezing the unused portions for another time, using recycled plastic containers. Os split with a friend even.”

Suzanne said “I don’t live on my own, but I’m the only one who doesn’t generally eat meat. I have a lot of salads and eggs, or quorn burgers and suchlike. It’s no hardship to put one in the fridge or freezer to eat another day. I also eat lots of pasta, which I make up as 2 meals – one pan for the meat eaters and one for me. And baked potatoes are simple too.”

Lucy suggested “Make your own ready meals with reusable packaging! Buy some little individual ovenproof dishes & tupperware (or save the plastic lidded cartons next time you have a Chinese!). Something like a stew is just “chuck it all in 1 pot & wait for it to do it’s thing” with ingredients such as meat, onion, carrot, stock and dried herbs.
Even better, buy a small slow cooker. Then you can put everything in raw, leave it to do it’s job, & it’s ready when you come home from work.”

Cinella wrote “I was going to suggest slow cooking as well! Maybe having a fresh farm salad before every meal and a fruit salad after and if she still needs to buy a prepackaged meal, she can only have half and save the other half for the following day, reducing her packaging by half.”

Nadine suggested “Look at the trays in which ready made foods come in – save those with a personal goal to refill them with your own choices. Use potatoes, rice, pasta as staple or healthful grains such as quinoa, spelt, coucous, bulgur, lentils, garbanzos, black beans make a quick boil into a tempting filler..like hummus, tahine, and a lot of easy dishes–then all you need is to add fruit salad and a source of protein..a dry item such as pita, chapati, nan, crackers etc.

Anne Marie said “Easy dishes include using noodles or cous cous – no cook, just add boiling water, stock powder, herbs or spices and finely chopped up veg that soften easily. You could buy loose veg from market, prepare and chop into single mixed veg portions and freeze in containers. These can be defrosted in the fridge or just cook from frozen. Make thick soup (easier to store) which can be used as a pasta sauce or thinned down with water, cream or wine or add more fresh veg pulses/fish/leftover meat to make a more substantial meal. Make extra pasta and use cold next day in a tuna sweet corn salad for lunch. ”

Over to you – how do you spend little time in the kitchen creating little waste, whilst eating well?

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Rachelle Strauss

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