I like cooking, I really do. Honestly. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to write about it on a regular basis. But every now and again, I fall out of love with it. I can’t even muster the enthusiasm to rustle up a basic pasta sauce and I find myself reaching for the chicken nuggets a little too often – nice in small doses, but I think we can all agree they’re a bit of a fail when it comes to nutritional value. These little phases do pass eventually, but when I’m languishing in the back end of February, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. So what do I do to fight the kitchen fatigue?
Well, one of the things that helps get me through it is eggs. Yes, eggs. And bread. Omelette and toast, fried egg and toast, boiled eggs and soldiers, scrambled eggs and… Toast. You get the idea. A decent tea that contains at least some semblance of nutrition and you can probably count the number of ingredients on one hand (compared to the amount in your average ready meal that takes the same amount of time to prepare). So eggs have been a bit of a meal and life saver in the last few weeks.
But one cannot feed a family on eggs alone. Well, you probably could if you absolutely had to but I, for one, don’t want to live in a world where eating eggs becomes a chore and a bit of a health hazard. So what else helps me through this troubled time? That toast thing I mentioned previously – that helps a lot. When the kids are at school, I get some peace of mind from knowing that all the essential food groups are represented in their school lunch, so I don’t feel too guilty about offering up the occasional beans on toast, sardines on toast etc. They’re still getting a lot of healthy stuff there, just…on toast. Yes, I don’t do it every day, but there’s nothing wrong with the odd tasty toasty treat.
You might be wondering about the state of my family’s fruit and vegetable intake during these difficult patches. Firstly, thank you for your concern, but baked beans are also part of our five-a-day, so we’re not completely without. And frozen peas (once they’ve been boiled, I’m not so desperate as to eat them while they’re still frozen). But there’s always fruit. We often have fruit for dessert, sometimes in its least imaginative (an apple a day etc.), and sometimes not. Once of my favourite freezer staples are bags of mixed berries. These are often available in many supermarkets’ value/basics/cheap range and are incredibly useful. Stick them in the microwave to defrost and then heat up (I hardly ever have the forethought to thaw them out in advance) and they’re great with ice cream, plain yoghurt, and on pancakes of the homemade or shop-bought variety. They certainly make up for my lack of lovingly-prepared veggies and they taste pretty damn good too.
But you’ll be relieved to hear that my kitchen fatigue never lasts – I usually regain my enthusiasm after a week or so, but especially in school holidays (rainy February half terms, I’m looking at you) when I’ve got a bit more room to breathe, kitchen-wise. However, it’s always nice to know that I can still keep us relatively healthy during those times when I really can’t be bothered…