By Joanne Poh, MoneySmart.sg
Most Singaporeans are good at eating but clueless when it comes to cooking. We resort to increasingly substandard hawker food because we never have time to cook, and our cooking skills are dismal according to a recent survey.
If you don’t practise, you don’t improve, and judging by the increasing amounts Singaporean households spend eating out, not too many people are actually donning their aprons and getting busy in the kitchen.
If you’re defiantly determined to cook at home more, here are some ways to trick yourself into doing so.
1. Set the table before you leave the house
Have you ever noticed that the hardest part about getting things done is taking the first step? Whether it’s opening the washing machine, taking that first step out of the house, typing that first sentence on your Word document or entering the first line in the Excel spreadsheet, once you start it’s a lot easier to stick with the plan.
Set the table for dinner early in the morning before leaving the house and you’re more likely to follow through with your plans to cook. When you walk through the door in the evening and all your cutlery and plates are already nicely laid out, you’re less likely to slink down to the hawker centre or call McDelivery.
2. Grocery shop in advance with a meal plan
While people in other countries might have idyllic visions of shopping at farmers’ markets or shopping for organic groceries hand in hand with their handsomely rugged partners, Singaporeans know that when your boss dumps work on your desk at 5.55pm, it’s all over.
Stop letting your job get in the way of your meals by grocery shopping in advance with a meal plan. I like to do groceries on Sundays, buying everything I need for the coming week in one fell swoop. Bringing a meal plan to the supermarket helps you to decide what you’re going to make that week and helps you to avoid forgetting something. It’s also harder to back out when you realise you’ve got a year’s supply of brinjal waiting for you in the fridge.
3. Keep some convenience food handy
While you can freeze your food and store leftovers to save time, sometimes in an emergency you just really and truly have no time to do groceries. It’s always wise to keep some convenience food handy for those days when you don’t even have time to charge your phone, let alone strain your exhausted brain cells trying to think of what to eat.
While you shouldn’t make it a habit, now and then a microwaveable chicken curry is exactly what you need to get through the day.
4. Surf for recipes beforehand
Not all of us were born domestic gods/goddesses. If you’re not lucky enough to be able to whip up delicious meals without nearly blowing up the kitchen, not having any recipes handy can seriously undermine your attempts to cook at home.
When you’re pressed for time and you just stayed at the office till 9pm because your boss was in a bad mood, the last thing you want is to spend half an hour surfing the internet for recipes, only to find the fridge as empty as a bimbo’s head.
The easiest solution is to bookmark a bunch of recipes on Google Chrome, so you can access them from any computer so long as you’re signed in to Google. Any time you need a recipe on the fly you need only to open your browser. Have some super simple recipes that require few ingredients like these on hand to tide you through those days when you’re too lazy to go to the supermarket and are out of ideas.
This article was first published at MoneySmart.sg