How I went from Frazzled Home Cook to Fearless Home Chef!

Updated: Feb 19

I always run into trouble trying to keep the dinner time menu interesting for our kids. Between after-school activities and bath time, there really isn't much time for me to whip up a fresh and tasty meal for the kids which they will eat without putting on a struggle. If I do come up with a couple of fail-safe meal ideas, I often find that it gets stale with the shorties pretty quick!

Enter Jamie Oliver, my knight in shining armour (I lovingly refer to him as my 'boyfriend')

Before Jamie = Frazzled Home Cook Mum

After Jamie = Calm and Self Assured Home Chef (...well not quite but I like to dream)

Introducing the recipe book that saved my entire life in the kitchen (NOT kidding)!!

I learnt to cook better meals faster with this book!

I had been raving on about this book to all my friends on FB back in 2012 when it first came out, and I am pretty sure that they got quite sick of seeing the pictures of all the yummy meals I made within-wait for it-30 CRACKING MINUTES!! I mean people seriously WHAT can you do in 30 minutes these days.

The biggest complaint that I received from other home cooks when I first posted this article on my blog was that they did not believe that '30 Minute Meals' was possible for a home cook. They said that "yes, Jamie could do it but not I!". Well, I always believe that before you make any assumptions, one must give it your very best shot to make it valid and then you can settle in your stubborn beliefs! Thus, I went forth and gave it my all! I followed Jamie's instructions to a tee. I pre-boiled the water. I had the pans lined up on the stove. I had my food processor ready to rock, roll and spin. All the ingredients were unpacked, washed and set to go. Finally, I put my timer to 30 minutes, and I dashed to the finish line clutching my cookbook! I left the sceptics to dust, with Jamie's help, I actually learnt to cook super fast with some easy tricks and cheats under 30 minutes.

I set myself the goal of cooking through the entire 'Jamie's 30 Minute Meals'. Bar some of the meals with duck, liver and haddock which my kids definitely did not like to eat at the time, I cooked up a storm and my family got to taste EVERY SINGLE RECIPE (bar most of the desserts in the book)!

At the end of it all, the experience was fabulous! I felt that I left them sceptics to dust, who thought that it could not be done. Probably, the sceptics never got into the race, to begin with, because they were too busy doubting. The best thing about the experience was that I learnt to think more like a chef than a frazzled home cook. The cheats and hacks that I discovered within the book aside, I became more methodical and organised cook able to mix flavours, textures and bring in a fresh & new elements to every meal. Basically, even though its been 7 years since I have cooked my way through the book and I no longer use many of the recipes because we are now entirely vegetarian at our place, I still adopt the skill I acquired then to cook my meals today.

For all the frazzled mammas and papas out there scratching their heads wondering when they can stop eating their freezer food and unhealthy take-outs, peeps think no more, run out and buy this book. If you are a skeptic and you still are eating somewhat ho hum meals every day, what have you got to lose? Just give it a real go and watch as it changes your meal times from stale to spectacular!

For all of you out there, who are 'muy curioso', about what my 30 minute meals may have looked like, here are some samples of what I have cooked for my family using 'Jamie's 30 Minute Meals.'

Spinach and Feta Pie P.70

Trapani-style rigatoni recipe by Jamie Oliver in Jamie's 30 minute meals
Trapani-style Rigatoni p.40

Crispy Salmon p.190

Spring Lamb and Vegetable Platter p.268

Killer Jerk Chicken & Chargrilled Corn P.106

Swedish Style Fish Cakes p. 147

Super Fast Beef Hash and Lovely Butter Beans & Bacon p.210

Mustard Chicken and Quick Dauphinoise

Moroccon Lamb Chops p.264

My son ate all his meals without a fuss at 3 years thanks to Jamie!

Curry Rogan Josh with fluffy rice and Carrot Salad p.80

Cheats Pizza P.58

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca P.54

Chicken Skewers & Fiery Noodle Salad P.110