Even with the proliferation of ‘time-saving’ devices, it seems that life is getting busier with less time available to take care of simple domestic matters. One of these tasks, which for many used to be a pleasure not just a duty, is the home-cooked meal.

After a hard day, the last thing most of us want to do is “slave over a hot stove”. Usually when we’re tired we want a quick solution, hence the increasing popularity in Australia of eating out.

TV cooking programs focus on the creativity and flair of the chef and they can be inspiring. If you’re keen to try some new ideas, here are our top five tips to add some ‘oomph’ to your home cooked meals.

1.     Spend the time when you can

On weekends, give yourself plenty of space and time to enjoy the experience of cooking a complete meal. If you’ve been absorbed in the kitchen for a couple of hours, consider a quick walk around the block before sitting down to eat. It clears the senses which will help you enjoy your masterpiece more.

2.     Make a meal go further

Why not prepare two meals in one and take the next night off? Leftovers can be just as tasty. Or exchanging rice for pasta mixed with the previous night’s sauce can create a totally new taste.

3.     Keep things simple

When your time or patience is limited, try a quick and easy option to create delicious meals for the family. Look for recipes on jars of ingredients, or in the hundreds of cookbooks focused on this growing need.

4.     Get everyone involved

There’s little doubt that people appreciate what they work for. Send your partner and the kids to your local supermarket with a shopping list, or give them each one part of the meal to prepare. Make it a team experience.

5.     Avoid waste at the end of the week

Get creative if your vegies are starting to wilt and there are other bits and pieces left in the fridge. Set yourself the challenge of putting together a combination of ingredients you wouldn’t normally use and see what transpires.

By following these ideas you can turn the chore of preparing home-cooked meals into a pleasurable experience and make the most of your valuable time.