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I can't cook, can you help please?



  • TestCall
    TestCall Posts: 36 Forumite
    Hello everybody!

    I've recently started a diary over in the DFW section, and this board is referred to a lot over there.

    So perhaps you can help! :A

    I'm 21, single, share a house but we all have different schedules so everyone sorts themselves out food-wise.

    My job's a bit mad - shifts all over the place, early starts, late finishes, so I have become the number one customer for my local Dominos and McDonalds.

    Apart from being a "convenience eater", I can't cook to save my life. Nor do I have a freezer, which makes things even more difficult.

    Can anyone suggest some easy starting points for "dinner for one" that are cheap, simple and quick to prepare? And remember, I'm such a terrible cook that I could burn cornflakes so the easier the better!

    Very much in gratitude,

    Proud to be dealing with my debts. My Diary!
    CC Debt at LBM #2 06/10/09: £2209
    CC Debt as of 06/10/09: £2209
    CC Free by April 2010, hopefully sooner! Tackle £1750 O/D after that, then save to settle £6500ish car loan.
  • Be not ashamed. I couldn't cook to save my life when I left home to go to University. Learning a few key dishes is easy (if i can do it, it must be). Once your confidence is up, you'll be experimenting in no time.

    No freezer is not a big deal as long as you have some fridge space. It just means any leftovers need to be eaten within a day or two and batch cooking is not an option.

    I learnt by making three or four basic things first, then branching out. I started with various soups, chilli con carne/spag bol and macaroni cheese (making a basic white sauce is dead easy and a handy thing to learn).

    So, as long as you have a couple of pans and basic kitchen tools, you should be in business. I'd have a look at the Old Style Recipe thread which I think is pinned at the top.
  • Olliebeak
    Olliebeak Posts: 3,167 Forumite

    this thread may be useful for you. It's aimed at students but the majority are single :grin:. Some of the prices quoted will probably be w-a-a-a-a-y out as it started in 2005!

    I'm sure there's another thread about cooking for one person, but I can't find it at the moment. I'm sure somebody will be along with more suggestions
  • i'm 22 and i can't cook either!

    Don't worry, your not alone!
  • mrbadexample
    mrbadexample Posts: 10,805 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker Photogenic
    TestCall wrote: »
    The tale of the 21yo who can't cook...
    i'm 22 and i can't cook either!

    Lightweights. :rolleyes: My guide to incompetence is here. :D
    If you lend someone a tenner and never see them again, it was probably worth it.
  • chirpchirp
    chirpchirp Posts: 1,983 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I'm not so great at cooking either. Just come back from holiday with a friend and she made a really simple meal.

    Boil some pasta, add some creme fraiche ( gives you the basic sauce)

    Now you can add whatever left over or bits that you want. We had diced onion, thinly sliced mushrooms and some chicken. You could just use diced chicken which you have fried or some left over from another meal.

    Another quick pasta based meal is pasta mixed with mayo, spring onion and sliced mattesons sausage.

    Roasts are quite easy to do too - and will leave you some meat to use for the next two days or so (although I'm not great at using up bits of meat). You could of course just grill some meat, like a chop and put the other roast bits with it.

    Really simple meals to prevent having to go for a takeaway is jacket potatoes - can take a while if you do them properly in the oven but you can give them a quick 10 min burst in the microwave, if you have one, then into the oven, time dependent on the size of the potato. If you make the spag bol meal one night you can use the sauce the next day in your jacket, add some chilli powder and you've got a different meal. I'm a bit rubbish with ideas for jackets but you can put them with any sauce meal that you do or cheese, tuna or tuna and mayo.

    Well hopefully that gives you some ideas. You could perhaps have a look on ebay for a second hand freezer and see if your housemates will chip in and have a shelf each.
  • hollystar
    hollystar Posts: 15 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Hi Miss S, maybe your oven is broken. Could you try cooking the same recipe that hasn't worked in someone else's oven to check. I'm all for blaming the tools & not the workmen! Ha ha
  • Chinkle
    Chinkle Posts: 680 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    Just like to add to a point made earlier, cooking is an art, baking is a science.

    If you can cook, you can put a meal on the table in the evening. For cooking recipes are a guide - start by sticking as closely to the recipe as possible, once you've made it a few times you can adapt the ingredients to suit. Read the recipe before you even decide if you are going to attempt it. When starting out avoid recipes that have lots of different components that say 'meanwhile' - its distracting doing two things at once and then you start panicing if one thing is ready but the other isn't. One pot recipes are great - you just add things sequentially. Mostly importantly taste as you are going along and adjust to suit, like an artist adding a little more paint to a canvas.

    Baking, as I say that's a science - you're trying to create a chemical reaction between different ingredients and you don't get the proportions correct your results can be anything from less than perfect to way off.

    I love cooking but not a fan of baking - just like at school prefered art to science.
  • Learn to make an easy tomato sauce: fry a chopped onion in a little oil until soft, add a tin of chopped tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes on a low to medium heat so the mixture is simmering. Add some pepper to taste and chopped up basil or a little dried oregano. (I try not to use too much salt in cooking). Serve with cooked pasta and grated cheese.

    To ring the changes you can add a drained tin of tuna to the tomato mixture, or some chopped ham or 110 grams of peeled, cooked prawns (if you're feeling flush) and cook for a further 10 minutes.

    My oven is also far hotter than it should be so I cook at a lower heat than it says in the recipe and sometimes for less time especially for chewy biscuits etc.

    Couscous is really easy. Using the quantities on the packet just add the just boiled water with a dissolved stock cube (I use a vegetable one) and mix with the couscous in a bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel for 5 minutes and then fluff up with a fork. No need to cook!

    Hope that helps. Good luck!
  • Hello all!

    One of the tastiest pasta dishes is the simplest, in our opinion. Cook any pasta you like, as usual. In another pan, put 6oz gorgonzola cheese with 1/4 pint double cream and heat gently until melted. Pour the sauce into the cooked pasta. Hey presto!

    For the adventurous, add chopped fried bacon and sprinkle chopped fresh sage on top.

    I'm sure anyone could make this without mishap.
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