Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Creative Cooking Planning

As you have probably picked up by now, I really like cooking.  I also like to think that I am not too bad at it! I love to cook for family, for friends, and to think of how every recipe can be improved and tweaked. I also don't mind cooking for people with food restrictions (vegetarian, gluten free, lactose intolerance etc), as it just adds to the challenge! 

At the moment however, the chronic fatigue really makes a mess of my cooking plans. I am trying to practise activity pacing, which is cutting down on the length of time spent on any activity (physical or cognitive) to a level that I can do it without a significant increase in fatigue.  At the moment, my kitchen/housework activity period is 8 minutes! That doesn't give me a lot of time for creative cooking!

Leading into the Christmas break last year, this problem reared its ugly head.  Usually I either do or oversee all of the cooking for our lake holiday, but that was going to be impractical.  Everyone also still wanted to eat good food!

So, my sister and I came up with an idea: we would put together a meal plan and cookbook for the holiday break so that everything could be done without me having to be involved and no single person had to take on a greater burden of meal preparation/cleanup. 

I researched and typed out all the recipes and sorted the meal plan, and Kathryn then used her amazing graphic design skills to create The Book.  For each recipe, there were slots for people to "sign up" for different tasks associated with the meal, from chopping to cooking to table setting to washing up. She also put times in when tasks had to be completed in advance, and wrote the wonderful poem on page 1!

We had a few copies - two A4 and two A3 - so there was a (very dirty) copy next to the stove, a copy on the bench and one that we took apart and stickytaped to the windows to make it easier for people to sign up, as well as a complete A3 copy available for perusal at any time :)

The Spaghetti Bolognese recipe is pretty straightforward:

Tandoori Chicken with Saffron Rice and Naan was a bit more confusing as there were three separate components that needed preparation and cooking! Kathryn had a very clever idea for this - she gave each component a different colour so that it was clear which steps and which ingredients belonged to which component. 

Overall, The Book worked really well and I think we'll be doing it again next year!  Particularly, having the signup slots and timings helped everyone to break down the larger job into manageable tasks and read through the whole recipe way in advance of when it was required.

Thanks to Kathryn for letting me share her artwork on this blog :)


  1. I would agree that you aren't too bad at cooking.

  2. I absolutely love this, makes me wish I'd been at the lake! I may even look at borrowing the ideas for when we do large amounts of cooking up here!?!

  3. Go for it! Maybe post some pictures here when it happens :)

  4. What a great idea! Where there's a will there's a way to achieve anything. Top marks for being so organised and gold stars for everyone who participated and supported the plan. How much energy did it take to put it all together? Now that you have the framework, the rest shouldn't take long to organise next time.

  5. It did take quite a bit of doing to put it together, but I could stretch that over a number of days/weeks rather than doing all the cooking which is a more time sensitive thing ;) We will definitely be doing it again this Christmas!