Lie Detector: I don’t have time to cook

Dirty Dishes in Sink

“If you don’t have time to do the dishes, you don’t have time to cook”

When I shared a kitchen with seven others in University, a sign to this effect decorated our tiny abode. The thought that somebody would actually be to busy to cook wasn’t the point, but merely eliminating another excuse. Yet, to this day, I hear people offer up this excuse on a daily basis. I can’t begin to tell you how upset it makes me when I here this.

Listen up, you: If you have time to eat, you have time to cook. Time, much like the sign in our shared housing kitchen alluded to, is an excuse that you use. You tell yourself, you tell your children, you tell your spouse and most of all, you tell your colleagues. You don’t want to be judged for the restaurant meal or the frozen dinner, so you justify it with a lie that is at once both egotistical and in search of pity. You pump up your ego by telling yourself the things you have to do are so important, then you look for pity, the rest of my life is so busy, I’m not even able to cook. But I’m not here to pick apart the myths, I’m here to correct them.

You might not want to cook for a different reason: you’re not good at (or at least you think that), you don’t care (probably because of excuse #1), or you don’t know how (I’m happy to teach you). We’ll have to get to those excuses at a later date. For now:

You do have time to cook. I could list for you, right here, hundreds of meals that take less than the amount of time required to stop at McDonald’s on the way home to cook. I won’t, because that would be boring. Instead, I want to share some techniques that are great for quick meals and a few examples of easy meals that you can make with each technique.

Of course, there are a few obvious answers, stir-frying, pasta with a little olive oil, a big salad as a meal, but these are not meals for when you want something thick, hearty, stick to your ribs, you’d serve it to your strapping young lad. The techniques I list below are Winter quickies. As you step in from the frigid tundra that is your city, your day, your life, let dinner be a joy, not an obligation.


When you know you’ll have no time when you get home, the slow cook is amazing. There is truly nothing quite like returning to your house, dog-tired, beat up by the day, stepping out of the freezing cold, to see the windows steamed up and smell the sweet scent of braising going on in your kitchen. If you have a slow cooker then you’re golden, if not, you can do it on the stove top (but maybe try it once or twice before you leave home when its on). Basic steps are to sear the meat, add liquid, add spices, and leave. Come home nine to ten hours later to a delicious, ready made meal. My favorite? Holy Sh*t Pork Cheeks.

Quick Roux Thickened Soup

If you’re anything like me, you think nothing beats a bowl of soup on a cool day. If you’re even more like me, you’ll doubt my assertion that this type of soup does in fact act as an entire meal–all the more so if you’ve got a hunk of crusty bread around too. The quick-roux makes for a soup that has some heft to it, seemingly creamy with out any cream. Basic steps are to melt butter, stir in a little bit of flour, add your vegetable, bring to a boil, blend and serve. This fall I’ve been obsessively making Lobster Mushroom Bisque.

Not-quite-a Stew

The word stew might bring to mind long hours at the stove, but that’s fools minds–or authentic cooks’, something I’ve never claimed to be. If you want that long stewed taste without the performing the kitchen hover, do it with vegetables and ground meats. Here you just throw everything into a pot and heat it up, letting the flavors mingle into a glorious, warm symphony of stew. Everything cooks near instantly, giving you the choice on how long to let it stew. An obvious pick for this category is the Israeli Shakshouka.

So the next time I hear someone tell me they don’t have time to cook, I will not get angry. No, I will give them the URL to this post and tell them I’m done with their filthy lies. Done, I tell you.


From Seattle, Washington.

Being a GastroGnome is not about sitting idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages, but rather, it is about exploration into the wide world of culinary creations. The GastroGnome is an adventure seeker, always on the look out for something new. There is no animal part too scary, no dining method to exotic. And after The GastroGnome eats, The GastroGnome tells. The GastroGnome is a daring cook as much as she is a daring eater, and after many delicious meals, she tries to recreate them in her home kitchen.

Since 2006 the GastroGnome has kept the world appraised of her adventures at, as well as writing for a variety of magazines (WINO, BeerNW) and websites (Citysearch,,, Wanderfeet). From khao soi in Chiang Mai to Liberian food in Queens, you can follow the GastroGnome as she eats her way around the world, both physically and through a grand variety of cuisines.

As her day job, the GastroGnome is a social media marketing consultant, and can be found at

  • facebook
  • linkedin
  • pinterest
  • twitter

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Matt R. says:

    Another great choice for a quick weeknight supper is breakfast! It takes about 20 minutes to make blueberry pancakes, fry some sausages or bacon, poach a few eggs and open a can of peaches. Doing this for a family of five takes no more time than doing it for one. You probably won’t even have to pick up a knife. Try and tell me you wouldn’t be satisfied after a meal like that…

Leave a Reply