After hearing horror stories from my Dad about what my Mum attempted to cook when they first moved in together I shut my eyes and prayed I wouldn’t follow in her culinary footsteps. What could be so bad you ask? How about slicing up a ‘Ready to Cook’ chicken and sandwiching between two slices of bread with some salad cream for good measure. Don’t say you made the same mistake as Mum and read ‘Ready to Eat’ instead of ‘Ready to Cook’! Luckily Dad questioned the squidgy-ness of the sandwich and opened up the slices of bread to reveal the pink chicken inside – eek! Food poisoning avoided, culinary lesson learned.

Then there was the sandwich surprise on the picnic with Dad and my grandparents…even I know it’s not wise to try kill off the mother in law in broad daylight! I’m told that Mum wanted to impress by serving something more than the standard picnic platter and so the humble egg sandwich was quite literally spiced-up with a teaspoon of chilli powder in EACH sandwich. Poor Nan was coughing up red clouds. Possibly the most well-rehearsed story and my Dad’s favourite is the first roast dinner she made for Dad and the in-laws. Now I think we can all agree that the first roast comes with a tonne of pressure and expectation (perhaps no expectations with mum after the sandwich fiascos, but you get my point). Rustling around in the newly stocked kitchen cupboards, Mum realised she didn’t have any mint for the potatoes (note that she was serving new potatoes and not quite ready for the challenge of the roasties!)… What would you do in this situation? Go with the trusted butter or maybe some olive oil? Perhaps some parsley or chives? Not my mother…off she trotted to the bathroom, opened up the cabinet and found her ingredient, minted toothpaste. I kid you not, the story goes she squirted some Colgate in to her pan of boiled new potatoes. Having served up this culinary delight in February, she only admitted to the secret ingredient at Christmas the following year!

DISCLAIMER: No grandparents were / have been killed off as a result of Mum’s cooking (as far as I’m aware).

So, here we are in 2019 and I’ve just moved in to my first home with my boyfriend. Having a very clear idea of what not to do and what not to use, I’ve began my home cooking journey. Here’s what I’ve learned in the first four weeks:

1) Always prep your lunch whilst you’re cooking your dinner. You won’t want to get off the sofa at 10pm to put some chicken in the oven and chop up some salad.

2) Ignore the use-by dates on fruit and veg. If it’s discoloured, limp or smelly then it’s ready for the food bin, otherwise ignore the date on pack and chop, cook and eat away.

3) If you get creative and introduce new snacks and dishes to your week you can use up that jar of X you bought for a one-off dinner which required 1 tsp of a 250ml jar!

4) Make a note of the times you started cooking each element of the dish, don’t round up or down and guestimate, you’ll always end up under/over cooking at least one part.

5) Don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out how it was supposed to, there’s always beans on toast if it’s a disaster!

If you’ve got any kitchen hacks / culinary tips for me, I’d love to hear them. Tweet me @jessfoodie.