As a sometimes unhappy or bored software developer I’ve often not enjoyed cooking proper meals for myself. But sometimes I try to because it’s healthier, cheaper, and impressive. In fact, in 2021 I stopped cooking a lot and now in 2022 I’m trying to get back into it. Here are some helpful shortcuts and easy things I’ve discovered, as well as some online resources that I found helpful. Have fun cooking and hopefully saving some money!
Buy pre-chopped vegetables. I know it’s more expensive than buying them whole and chopping yourself, but it’s a lot easier. If you’re feeling energetic one day you can buy fresh vegetables and chop them while listening to a podcast. In Australia, most supermarkets sell stir-fry mixes for around $4. I just give the bag a rinse and put in the soft plastics recycling and it eventually gets turned into street furniture.
Buy pre-chopped meat for your stir-fry. It’s also more expensive, but still OK.
Get a good knife. Just chef’s knife, maybe a pairing knife too. Keep them both sharp and they’ll cut things much easier, then it’s not as frustrating. Tomatoes, raw meat are both much easier with a good knife. Obviously be careful. I’ll link some related videos below.
Keep some frozen vegetables in the freezer. I like the mix of diced carrot, corn, and peas. And green beans. They freeze and defrost pretty well. Other vegetables like broccoli aren’t as good frozen. But regardless, all frozen vegetables you buy are snap frozen so they actually retain more nutrition for longer, compared to other means of preserving vegetables. Obviously fresh is best, but it doesn’t keep for long and you need to use it within 3 – 5 days.
Combine frozen meals with frozen vegetables. I like to get frozen pasta dishes and then add my own peas, corn, carrot mix. Cook them separately. So it’s a compromise of ease of preparation and reasonable health giving food. Or you can make up rice, frozen veggies, and a can of tuna for a reasonably healthy meal in 15 minutes. It’s not amazing sure, but hey, you made it and it’s healthy enough and cheap. Add some butter or chilli oil and it tastes quite nice!
I’ve found a few videos from nerdy chefs on YouTube to be a bit of an inspiration to cook and not feel overwhelmed as they try to be accessible and geared to the YouTube generation and technologists… Technologists who may not be into cooking and meal preparation intrinsically but realise it’s a good skill to have.
Adam Regusea is a journalism lecturer turned cooking and food science YouTuber. These two videos I've found quite helpful, on knife skills. Just don't go waving it around like he does in the first video.
A year later he made a follow up video:
Internet Shaquille is a realistic but firm presenter, encouraging people to eat healthily. His videos are easy to follow and generally aren't intimidating.
In this one he talks about what he likes to prepare when he's too tired to cook a "normal" meal.
Another one I liked is the following where he talks about how to make home-make burritos taste more like restaurant bought. It's good to have nice homemade food.
The last one from Shaq I'll share is about how to made washing up easier. Though to be honest, I also watch put YouTube or Netflix on the tablet while I wash up.