We’ve all been there. (Yes, I’m speaking on your behalf, dear reader, sshhhh don’t say anything – I’ve got this.) We return home after a truly hellish day at work and the last thing you want to imagine is 1. cooking dinner and 2. continuing to stand up.
This aversion to cooking can be alarmingly aggressive. The thought of opening the fridge to stare at its pitiful contents is about as appealing as pulling off your own fingernails. In my own experience, it usually flares when I cook for myself. If I’m the only beneficiary of the evening’s fare then I have no one to impress and my A-game can slink off. Therefore, dinner is substandard at best yet also requires an enormous amount of effort. Why endure such a challenge for little benefit?
In the past, this disgust at cooking for myself was so profound I would prepare a bowl of cereal and stumble to bed. No, it wasn’t satisfying, and yes, it contained next to no nutrition, but Netflix. Bed. Not having to do anything was my priority. I like to think I have improved since then, however, this is only thanks to careful, conscious planning, browsing recipes in my spare time, and The List.
I came across The List on Molly Wizenberg’s blog. Or, should I call it by the official title, The Crap I Like To Eat List. Admittedly the profundity can seem a little crass, however, as Molly eloquently explains, this list is for use only when you’re in a murderous mood and cooking bears the brunt of your vitriol, so that slightly aggressive title can seem almost friendly.
The idea behind The Crap I Like To Eat List is simple. On a happier occasion, maybe during a lazy weekend, you sit down with a pen and paper and write the title nice and big. Underneath you fill in precisely that: the foods you like to eat (or, crap you like to eat). Instead of focusing on actual rubbish like chocolate biscuits or KFC, write your favourite dinners, delicious meals you once improvised, or recipes you followed precisely. Then you put it on your desk or stick it to the fridge to wait for that fateful, inevitable day when you hate everyone and food and life. Then, The List works its magic.
As you glower at the fridge, hoping for a ready-made dinner to leap out at you, The List acts like a friendly wave. Your eye catches on familiar dishes you enjoy, some you love, and slowly, your appetite for cooking returns. Half the pain is the struggle to think while exhausted. However, if you have a handy list right in front of you, you don’t need inspiration. Mine is scribbled in my notebook and it’s already my best friend. I just need to read prawn, garlic and tomato spaghetti, aubergine and chickpea curry, or my favourite salsa with tortillas and halloumi to re-energise my enthusiasm.
The List constantly evolves. Any sudden craving can be scrawled on there. At the moment my list is extensive ranging from the cheap and cheerful congee with a soft boiled egg to splash-the-cash seabass en papillote baked with ginger, chilli and garlic, to the everlasting comfort of pasta a la Clara.
The List works miracles. Give it a go! It transforms the sullen food-phobe to a creative chef, bustling around with pots and pans, eager for dinner. I can testify – my cereal stays untouched in the cupboard these days.