To Cook Or Not To Cook, That Isn’t The Question. It’s What To Cook!

Reena Chowdhury, mother love cooking

Raise your hand if three times a day, you experience this dread of not knowing what you’ll be feeding your family next! You have limited resources, little help and the certainty of having to cook meals that are “interesting” looming over your head. In the time of COVID-19, the question isn’t to cook or not to cook, but what to cook! How many times can you serve aloo sabzi in a week? What do you feed finicky eaters who want tomato in their dal or garlic in their chutney, but there is none available?


  • With no takeaways and eating out at restaurants, most of us are cooking three meals at home every day.
  • This is a dreadful time to be in charge of cooking at home.
  • To cook or not to cook isn’t the question today, it is what does one cook.
  • Limited resources have thinned our options, at such times, what is to be cooked is a decision that shouldn’t be left to just one person in the house.

This is a dilemma most mommies and daddies are facing today. No sooner are you done sorting breakfast for the family, you have to begin planning for the lunch. Coronavirus lockdown has not only negated the options of eating out or ordering in, but being in the house all day, with nothing much to do, means that we are eating more than usual. Some are eating to beat stress, others out of boredom. Some are eating more during their meals, while others are snacking through the day. This is perhaps one of the reasons why we are seeing a rise in posts on homemade meals and munchies on social media. Khow Suey, Fish-curry, Rogan josh, Amras poori, dosa, brownies, marble cakes. You name it, your Insta feed has got it.

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But it is hard to maintain enthusiasm about cooking three times a day. For instance, if I was living alone I would have happily made a pot of khichdi and spread it over two or three meals in the coming two days. But alas, with a family to feed, the only thing that is acceptable to be re-served are gourmet dishes, or dishes that you sweated over, that have turned out very well, or the ones which you rarely make. Repeat one vegetable twice or thrice in a week and you can hear “tch” and “huh” in muffled voices.

But then here’s the question, if we are all in this together, why must the onus of deciding what a family should eat fall on those who cook? I think this lockdown is the perfect time for every family to rework this “khane me kya banau” business once and for all. Yes, kids need not have to worry about a lack of resources. But can we not review our pantry as a family and work out on meals together? This can be presented as a task or a game to children, so that they remain insulated from the anxiety that elders may be experiencing to an extent.

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Sit down with a list of what you have with everyone and tell them. This is what we have to work with in the coming weeks or days. Then go on to toss ideas about every meal for a coming few days and write down who is tasked with cooking what. I think having a tiny plan in place, a calculated certainty, even if it is for your meals, can be a stress reliever. One thing less to worry about, or rather three.

Picture Credit: Seema Sethi/ Planet Kitchen

The views expressed are the author’s own.