Cheating at cooking

Is there any particular food that you always cheat at?  Something you buy ready made because you can’t be bothered to cook it yourself, or its something really difficult or time consuming to make?  I bet even the best home cooks cheat at something!

Here are my top five cheats:


I never make my own stock.  Every time I roast a chicken I feel guilty about it, but equally every time the chicken carcass goes in the food waste bin.  I just can’t be bothered to boil up a big pile of bones and stuff for hours.

I am a fan of the stock cube – I like OXO for beef, and Knorr for everything else (chicken, fish, vegetable).  I’ve never tried those little stock pot things, where you get concentrated stock and water it down, but the only reason I haven’t got round to trying those is because they are way more expensive than the cubes.


I rarely make pastry.  I think I made some shortcrust for an apple pie a couple of years ago and it came out nicely.  I did learn to make puff pastry at school but the only times I’ve tried it since – maybe twice – it was a fatty splodgy disaster!

So I always buy it fresh and ready made, and chop it up into nice serving sized blocks and then keep it in the freezer.  The brand I use is called Jus-Roll (!) and I think I use that brand because it’s the only one my supermarket does.

It just seems to make such a mess faffing round with the flour and the water and getting little bits left over, and the bought pastry is way more predictable in terms of results.


I can and do on occasion make custard, and I frequently make white sauce, and use it for cheese sauce, or maybe brandy sauce.  If I make custard though it’s a half cheat anyway because I use custard powder, not real eggs and things.

However my custard always has a nasty habit of coming out at completely the wrong texture – either watery, or so thick you can’t stir it.  And always when I have visitors.  Far safer to buy a nice pot of fresh custard, just heat up in the microwave, and put it in a nice jug.  You could have made it.  Who’s to know!


I keep coming across recipes for home made hummus, on healthy living blogs and such like.  It doesn’t sound that difficult, but its just so much easier to walk to the shop and survey the many different flavors of ready made hummus and choose one.  Plus then you don’t have to spend hours wandering round the supermarket wondering where on earth they keep the tahini.

Cold Desserts

I don’t cook a lot of dessert.  I have to watch the calories and so I stick to tinned fruit, a bit of ice-cream or a few squares of chocolate.  If I have visitors my standby dessert is a fruit crumble which is about the only dessert I can do without following a recipe.

So if I need a cold dessert, a cheesecake, or a trifle or a lemon tart say, nine times out of ten they are bought.  Half the reason for this is the hassle factor and half is the cost.

If you make a fancy dessert it can take a couple of hours, a messy kitchen, and a lot of effort.  Especially if like me you don’t do it very often and have to constantly refer to the recipe book.  Not to mention all the waiting for things to chill and set so you can’t get on with it properly, and you end up thinking about it all day.  And then its gone in ten minutes.

Then if you add up the cost its probably more than if you’d bought the premium brand dessert at the supermarket.  Okay so you may have some ingredients left over, but often they are not much use for making anything except the same dessert again.  I think last time I made a cheesecake the rest of the packet of gelatin sat in my cupboard for about three years.

Cold desserts from the supermarket can be very good quality these days for a reasonable price – it often doesn’t seem worth the effort of making your own.


So there you go.  What dishes can’t you be bothered to make?  What pre-made products do you think are superior to home cooked ones?


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  1. Mum Says:

    This post got me thinking as I prepared today’s convenience meal to put in the oven! Saturday is the day when I like to take it easy from a cooking point of view. We tend to have lasagna, which is something that I cannot be bothered to make from scratch, or maybe Mr. Brain’s Faggots! It makes a change for me to have a fish pie sometimes from the freezer. As my husband doesn’t like this, he can have something different without any hassle.
    Your comments about Oxo and custard got me to thinking about years ago. I don’t know when Oxo was invented but it must have been a great help. I suppose that tinned fruit and vegetables were the original convenience foods, as it meant that we good eat food out of season. Peas, for example , have a very short season, but with tinned peas, we could have them all year round. And then when frozen peas came in…wow! they tasted so much better.

  2. admin Says:

    We are lucky these days aren’t we with the huge variety of convenient options there are to make cooking easy! Life before stock cubes must have been hard work.

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