CONFESSION: I CAN’T COOK!


Thank goodness for cereal and roasted vegetables because I cannot cook to save my life. (What a lousy lifestyle blogger that makes me!) I’m a vegetarian which ought to make my life easier (how hard is it to whip up a bowl of whole wheat pasta?) but even working from home I rarely feel motivated to cook a homemade meal. There’s the issue of my ancient oven taking forever to heat up, my dog kamikaze-ing toward the countertop while I chop veggies, not to mention the pile of dishes awaiting me after the fact… I give people who cook every day a lot of credit! Now that I’m living on my own, I’d like to make more of an effort to get comfortable in the kitchen (#wishfulthinking) so I’m turning it over to you:

1) Do you bring lunch or snacks to work during the week? What do you make?

2) What’s your go-to dinner during the week?

3) What blogs and cookbooks do you recommend?
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27 thoughts on “CONFESSION: I CAN’T COOK!

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  1. I love to cook but if you don’t, it’s definitely a lot of work to do every day. For lunch, I love sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and arugula, and if I ever need a really quick dinner I saute some spinach and fry two eggs into it. Quick, easy, one dish. Making a big batch of quinoa is a good idea too, it’ll last you a few days and you can add different vegetables to it. Plus it is packed with protein.
    For blogs/books, you are totally on teh right track with your Barefoot Contessa cookbook, she is the queen of food! I love the blog Stacey Snacks (www.staceysnacksonline.com) and, shameless self-promo alert, I have a cooking/entertaining blog called Parties and Pearls: http://www.partiesandpearls.blogspot.com

  2. Two recipes that are SO easy to make and use similar ingredients:

    1. Cous cous with roasted vegetables – onions, red peppers, asparagus, broccoli, whatever! with a little feta cheese sprinkled in.

    2. Feta cheese, tomato, roasted corn, and avocado all cut up/diced. So simple, so good.

  3. Ahhhh I am also a vegetarian who cannot cook to save her life. I’ve been trying to pin healthy vegetarian meals that look easy to make on my Pinterest. For lunch, I stick to a basic peanut butter and banana sandwich with an apple. For dinner, I either make some sort of pasta with red sauce or vodka or I eat pizza. Super boring I know. I am determined to change that this year though.

  4. I was vegan for 2 years while I was trying to balance out my diet. I bought Vegan Planet cook book by Robert Robertson and I loved it! The recipes were fairly simple and all delicious. I’m no longer doing the vegan thing but 5 years later I am still constantly use this cookbook I just sub in actual cheese for the soy cheese and the like.

  5. Oh Lord, I am in the same boat. I’m a vegetarian too, and it’s just so tough to make the time to plan for the week, grocery shop, AND cook AND clean. I go through little bursts where I’ll cook a lot for a week or two, then get burnt out (where I’m at right now).

    I’ts not the cooking that’s my problem, it’s the time management!

  6. I do a lot of “assembling” than cooking, which is an easy way to start. I’ll make lettuce wraps for lunch (i use turkey and cheese, but would be great with just veggies) or crackers, cheese, hummus & veggies for dinner.

    As far as cookbooks go, I love Ina’s Back to Basics book, it has several great recipes like roasted broccoli and spring risotto, which take a bit of time, but always come out great.

    When I cook, I like it to last, so I freeze individual portions, which are perfect for nights I don’t want to cook, all I have to do is stick it in the microwave. I just made this recipe which is perfect for that (& vegetarian): http://www.onelovelylife.com/?p=4854

    Good luck!

  7. I have a super tiny kitchen and tiny old oven (with one rack!), so I feel your pain.

    But, cooking doesn’t have to be hard or include a ton of clean up! My go-to meal is an omelet with whatever I have leftover in the refrigerator. It takes less than 10 minutes to make any there’s only one pan to clean 🙂

    In terms of blogs, Joy the Baker’s blog (http://joythebaker.com/) is awesome, and her recipes are easy to make.

    Good luck 🙂

  8. I try to cook a few times during the week and love reading Iowa Girl Eats for inspiration. I tend to make a lot of veggie omelette because they are quick and easy yet filling for after work.

  9. 1) I snack on clementines throughout the day.

    2) My one and only go-to recipe is Giada DeLaurentiis’ chicken piccata (obviously not vegetarian).

    3) I recently bought a cookbook called “One Pan, Two Plates” that is pretty great!

  10. I’m a veggie too (well, actually I started eating fish a few months ago, but I still understand). Part of my New Year’s resolution is to cook more. I discovered roasted veggies and that changed my life! I love to heat up something the whole week. I make tacos (with fake meat from Morning Star) or a casserole. For lunches, I cheat with Lean Cuisines, but now that summer is here, I’d like to bring more salads.

  11. A recent discovery–potato tacos. Roast fingerling potatoes (coated with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, paprika and cayenne) and just before they’re done, sauté onions, garlic and pepper. Combine your sautéed veggies with the potatoes, then tuck into tortillas and top with avocado, salsa and fresh cilantro!

    Also on our weekly rotation–pasta with high-quality store bought pesto (couldn’t be easier), breakfast for supper (poached eggs over avocado toast, omlettes with a big green salad) and roasted corn and avocado salad that makes my mouth water. (recipe here: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/grilled-chicken-corn-salad-00100000062807/index.html)

  12. i cook all the time! i usually try to make a big batch of something i can freeze and reheat. pasta bakes are great for this. also for lunch, i usually make 2-3 ahead of time so that i have options, i love salads and wraps. and then i have a bunch of veggies. another great quick option is mexican food. quesadillas, tostadas, tacos, enchiladas are all fairly easy and quick.

  13. If you’re not a cook, I would not recommend GP’s new cookbook. It’s rather intense! Her 1st cookbook is a little more basic! Perhaps Ina Garten’s “Foolproof” cookbook would be better. I also really like Epicurious.com! I am usually the one who cooks dinner, and I think the key to being a good cook is to not be afraid to fail! Try your best and if it comes out terrible, there is always take out! Trial and error is what helps you learn!

    xx Christine

  14. I can’t cook to save my life either but I love sandra lee’s cookbooks because she usually does meals with the leftovers too! And quinoa salad is my go to veggie meal 🙂

  15. I’m married, own a home, & about to have a baby. And yet my husband cooks, so don’t feel bad! My goal is to make 1 meal a week & I’ve gotten better at not burning that 1 meal, so there’s improvement! No way I was making dinner when I lived in my own apt.

    I always make my lunch b/c I’m a teacher, so the alternative is cafeteria food. Usually a salad or sandwich, fruit, snacks tend to be something I can store in the classroom so always processed.

    My go to meal is usually a pasta dish so that there is leftovers- definitely key when you live by yourself! Either a lasagna, ziti, etc. And there’s a lot of different things you can throw in there to make it more interesting/healthy.

  16. You are not alone! At my house, we love mexican. It’s so easy to throw some crushed chips in with some romaine, black beans, corn, cheese salsa and guac. Besides the chips, it’s fairly healthy.

    Lately I also love salads with fruit. I made a strawberry walnut with strawberry dressing (Kraft makes a great one) yesterday. And I’m obsessed with making the one I had last week while eating out (dried apricots, brie, candied walnuts and a tangerine dressing over spring greens. Salads are so easy!

    glitterandgapske.blogspot.com

  17. Gwyneth’s new cookbook is incredible, Mackenzie! I promise, the recipes are so tasty and the 8 or so we’ve tried are not difficult at all. A good salad dressing (or three!) help get me through the week as far as lunch is concerned. I love making avocado toast for lunches as well! A House in the Hills has also been a favorite resource lately for yummy, healthy meals.

    Good luck!

  18. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to make easy things, promise! I’m a veggie, too, and I also try to bring lunch to work at least three days a week to save money + make dinner at home most nights.

    The site naturallyella.com is AMAZING for great recipes; most are vegetarian and super easy, and she has recipes for what’s in season. I just made a new recipe from there for dinner last night and I am obsessed, shaved asparagus and pasta with a lemon-basil coating. I also have a go-to butternut squash pasta recipe from there.

    Another favorite of mine is spiced black beans, spinach and avocado with a little lime & sour cream in a spinach wrap. I adapted the recipe from a goop email a few months ago, also incredibly quick and easy to make, and so filling! I make a two egg omelette with goat cheese and fresh spinach a lot, too. Smittenkitchen.com is good for finding some quick recipes, too. Don’t be afraid to play around with them a little, I frequently substitute things out that I don’t like and try to add green & veggies as much as I can.

    (Sorry for writing you a mini-book, but I like to cook haha. Also, super easy to use up old bananas and make muffins and they’re a great on the go snack, I took one with me this morning!)

    Rose
    Blonde in this City

  19. I do A LOT of Sunday meal prepping because I think it makes it easier for the rest of the week. And I’m less prone to get take out, always a plus! I make batches on quinoa, rice, chicken, hard boiled eggs and chop up some vegetables and I’m all set for the rest of the week.

    I also always keep baby carrots, grape tomatoes, hummus, pita chips, fruit, and almond butter on hand for snacking. Yogurt is a good option too!

    And when worse comes to worse, I just make a classic grilled cheese sandwich to tide me over. Can never go wrong with that!

  20. I LOVE to cook but ever since I started living alone and primarily working from home, it’s hard to motivate myself to cook something nice every night. I tend to make more than I need and keep it as leftovers. I’ll eat the leftovers for lunch the next day or a few more dinners throughout the week. That always makes me feel like the effort was worth it. I also try to cook for friends/family if I want to try a move complex recipe, because I like feeding people!! And because I post the recipes on my blog! Haha that motivates me a little… 🙂
    http://www.lakeshorelady.com

  21. I always recommend making a pot of brown rice or quinoa on sunday nights and then eating it all week in different ways. Makes cooking meals way easier! I add white beans and kale or other vegetarian combos for perfect lunches and dinners.

    Check out lemonstripes.com for a bunch of healthy recipes…There is a whole vegetarian section!

  22. I definitely go through phases where I love to cook and then I lack all motivation to do it. I try to bring lunch to work to save money. I like to chop up a big Ziplock bag filled with veggies on Sunday night and I eat those throughout the week at work – carrots, cucumber, celery, grape tomatoes, etc. They all seem to hold up pretty well.

    I also keep hummus, peanut butter, and string cheese in the work fridge and then just “mix and match” my lunches and snacks. PB sandwiches are also a go-to.

    Pasta is definitely my favorite go-to weeknight dinner. My newest favorite is whole wheat spaghetti with kale sauteed in olive oil and tons of garlic. Sprinkle lots of parmesan on top. And then another favorite is a fried egg sandwich with sliced avocado.

    Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are my favorite – she’s just the best!