Thursday, 28 July 2011

How to deal with having "no time" to cook?

This week has seen a lot of days where, by the time dinner time rolls around, we are all either too tired or too busy to cook. We've dealt with this in a variety of ways, partly based on how much energy we could muster up, and also whether we'd had the foresight to realise a quick dinner was going to be needed.

On Monday, we had luckily realised that we would need something easy to cook. Well, either that or we found ourselves doing the weekly Waitrose shop at 5.45pm, by which time we should normally be at home cooking. So we bought pizzas. Waitrose's Caramelised Onion and Feta pizzas (x2)...

It seems that when I'm too tired to cook, I'm also too tired to take decent photos!!

Looking at this photo has made me feel better!! I thought the pizzas cut into 6 slices, and remembered I'd had 5, but actually, it looks like there were 8 slices in the pizza so I didn't almost eat a whole pizza to myself, yey!! It was delicious anyway...

I adore cooked feta on pizzas, so good! I think in terms of "quick" dinners, this is the middle ground - not as good as home-cooked meals but not quite as 'bad', in my opinion of course, as some takeaways can be. At least we enjoyed it...

...which is more than can be said for tonight's dinner. It is daughter's birthday on Monday and her party on Saturday, so today has been filled with doing a huge Tesco shop this morning, and picking up cake tins etc this afternoon. Supermarket shopping with 2 children, even with the help of a 2nd adult (thanks Mum!), is no fun - by the end my trolley was so heavy that it was actually straining my neck to push it around!! So for dinner I suggested getting a Chinese takeaway. Which might've been ok-ish, except they'd run out of tofu (!) so I ended up having mushroom chow mein, egg fried rice and vegetable spring rolls...

I actually only ate half of the rice and a third of the noodles, but was still confronted with a huge greasy carby plate...

Bleugh. This did not make me feel good. Flavourless, greasy, and for some reason Chinese takeaway food always seems to give me stabbing stomach pains for the rest of the evening. Why is it that I always forget that by the next time a "too tired to cook" evening rolls around?!!

The best quick meal we've had this week was yesterday. Solution: get my husband to cook!! If that's not an option for you, I'd still recommend cooking this recipe - so simple to cook, but delicious and quite healthy too. Whilst Liam normally feels 'safer' cooking pasta, last night I managed to persuade him to cook quinoa, and I think we were all pretty pleased with the result! :)

One-Pot Pesto Quinoa
(serves 2-3)
  • 175g (dry) quinoa
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 200g basil smoked tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
  • approx 150g frozen peas
  • approx 1 tbsp pesto (according to Liam - he probably used more!!)
  • approx 80g cheddar, grated
  1. Add the quinoa, boiling water and stock cube to a (larger than you think you need) pan. Bring to the boil and then simmer, with the pan lid on, for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the peas and the tofu, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. When the quinoa is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed, stir through the pesto and cheese. Ready to serve :)

This was really tasty. I could've easily eaten twice the amount, but I was in a hungry mood. I loved the mix of pesto and cheese, and the quinoa was so comforting. Perfect after a long day.

How do you cope with busy days/evenings that leave little time to cook? Any quick recipes that you often fall back on?

Right, back into the kitchen I go. Tonight is mainly dedicated to birthday cake baking! Daughter wants to help me decorate the cakes tomorrow, but as we'll be short on time, I figure baking the cakes tonight will save a last minute panic!! Liam and I are meant to be going out tomorrow evening with my sister and her boyfriend. Last year, we also had plans the night before daughter's birthday party, had babysitting arranged etc...and had to cancel because I was baking and decorating the birthday cake until 9.30pm. So I'm hoping to avoid a repeat of that again this year!!


  1. I know exactly what you mean!! Those days that I don't feel like cooking, I almost always regret it! There are very few "acceptable" takeaways to me, the best being Chipotle. I can get my usual salad, with black beans, salsa, fajita veggies, cheese, and guacamole - and be a happy camper. We bring it home, so I eat my blue corn baked tortilla chips, instead of the greasy Chipotle ones - that that is pretty much a winning dinner for me. Other than that - most everything disappoints. I'm with you - I have to remember that I am much more satisfied if I just COOK it myself. :)
    I'm very impressed with Liam's cooking! That looks like a quinoa risotto or something... yum. My Tristan doesn't know how to cook ANYTHING in the kitchen - but he will grill outside, IF I prep the food for him. Baby steps, right? ha,ha.


  2. That quinoa basil pesto thing looks lovely ;) What a fab idea. I always get brilliant ideas from you. Have fun cake baking today.

  3. I love the look of your quinoa dish. I know how it feels having no time to cook some days. I turn to green smoothies, salads or my freezer stash to keep me going.

  4. Happy birthday to the daughter :)

    When I don't have much time I always revert to a green monster, but I'm not so sure that's viable in terms of a family recipe ;) Don't feel too bad over the Chinese: to be honest eating out at any place where there's an emphasis on greasy food wrecks my stomach, and I've been to such places 3 times in the past 5 days!



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