As I continue to trawl through my personal creative archive, I came across a project I commissioned in 2017 called: “Single Shopping List Cooking.”
When you live alone you find quite quickly that it’s difficult to eat for one. Well, perhaps not difficult, but certainly expensive and wasteful – at least the way I was doing it. I would have good intentions to eat healthily, spend a ton of money on ingredients, and end up using only a small amount to make ‘OK’ meals at restaurant prices!
I purchased student cookbooks, books with “meals for one” in the title, but I either didn’t like the look of the food, there seemed a lot of work involved, or there was an assumption I had cupboards already full of ingredients.
Around this time, I was the Co-Director of a Community Interest Company called Community Hubs Network (CHN), and in the news there was a lot of talk about food poverty and healthy eating, so I had an idea.
The ‘thing’ I was personally looking for was a 7-day meal plan (i.e. ALL my meals), that could be made using the same small stock of ingredients. The plan would come with a shopping list, easy-to-read instructions, guides as to what could be frozen, etc. So, the idea was…make one! As always with me, the name came first – Single Shopping List Cooking. Now I just had to write it…or did I?
If Not I, Then Who?
Many years ago I attended a one-day course called “Exploring Enterprise.” For a free course, it was pretty good, and one thing I heard stuck with me:
If not I, then who?
I later found out there were two parts to the quote:
If not I, then who? If not now, then when?
They remain the best two questions to ask yourself before starting any kind of project. What you’re basically asking yourself is, if YOU don’t do the project you’re thinking of, then who is? If you then do an internet search and find someone actually is doing it, well there’s your answer! You then need to decide if you can do it better, or just different in some way.
A Crystal Maze Challenge For Cooking
If I had known how to cook, I wouldn’t have needed the book, so it wasn’t actually going to be ‘I’ – so who? Luckily, I happened to know a food blogger, so I commissioned her to write the book for me (or rather CHN). Equally luckily, her response on hearing the remit was:
Oh, like a Crystal maze challenge for cooking!
We were off to a good start!
The brief I gave her was this:
All meals need to serve 1 person (but could be scalable), use as few ingredients as possible, and utlise the same ingredients over as many dishes as possible (turns out this was the tricky part).
I also said it should be assumed the person would not have a magic pantry containing a vast array of ingredients. This was to be a book for someone starting from scratch.
Once I received the first draft, I was pleasantly surprised – I actually liked the look of a lot of the meals! For a good couple of weeks, I tried the recipes (so I could add little tips to the text), and while inevitably my interest in eating well trailed off, the butternut squash curry remains one of my favourite things to ‘cook.’
As probably happens with everyone that learns to cook a little, I discovered there were some things I really liked, were simple to make (maybe with the odd ingredient substitution or two), and I’ll have them on occasion to this day. Given that cookery books are their own industry (and cookery websites) I should have perhaps realised this was a bigger challenge than I thought, and it was doubtful I was the first to try it. At the time there were websites offering 7-day-plans (and infinite variations), but they just didn’t speak to ME, and I still think that was reason enough to start this project.
Every creative thing I’ve ever done has involved me doing something slightly different from everyone else because I wanted to try it my way. Sometimes it probably makes the final result a little too personal, but I don’t think that need be a bad thing.
Writing A Cookery Book
For my part, all I had now was a basic shopping list and some outlined recipes. So, despite having precious little cookery skills or experience, it was time to write a cookery book!
I’m going to put a download link a bit further down, so you can read for yourself what I came up with, but I was very pleased with the final product. It remains a good example of a basic concept being transformed into a finished product though partnership working.
To complete this project, I needed to accept I did not have all the skills myself, and so needed to reach out to someone that did. We each did what we did best and ended up with a better product than either of us individually could have made.
Single Shopping List Cooking sold a few copies, but Community Hubs Network was winding down by then, so it never really got a final edit and fell through the cracks – but click on the link below if you want to download your free copy:
Partnerships Are Worth The Effort
Rather than struggle alone with something, why not reach out to someone who might be able to help you. Even asking someone for advice can be a great way to get ‘unblocked.’ Finding someone on the same wavelength as you, who you can work with, isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the effort, as it makes creative work (indeed ANY work) SO much easier.
It’s also worth remembering that whatever input your partner may have, they become invested in the final product, and so are likely to want to promote it among their own network.
Happy partnership working!
Cook Yourself Happier
I’m happy to say Cook Yourself Happier has gone from strength to strength in the last few years, doing a lot of work around cooking and mental health. Check out their website: www.cookyourselfhappier.com