Why I’m simply in love with Simply Nigella

Nikki ParkinsonFood and Wine, Life 27 Comments

I love to cook. And to eat.

Not that the two need to necessarily need to go hand and hand.

But in my experience, it does help.

Like my wardrobe, though, it’s very, very easy for me to fall into a cooking rut.

You know the rut, don’t you? Buying the same ingredients and cooking up the same dishes on a weekly or fortnightly basis?

The rut happens when life gets busy. I get that and accept that about myself.

I use the start of a new year as a time to try and get on track and back to some kind of routine in all aspects of my life.

It doesn’t mean that the getting on track and routine sticks but I know I operate better if I’ve got some sort of structure or routine to the general madness so I give it a go.

When it comes to good food and menu planning, the biggest motivator for me to climb out of my cooking rut, is delving into a much-loved cookbook … or a brand, spanking new one for fresh inspiration.

I bought Nigella Lawson’s new cookbook, Simply Nigella, just after Christmas with this in mind but also in the knowledge that I’d booked a ticket to hear Nigella talk (and meet her for 30 seconds) at a Business Chicks event.

So when we got back from our beach holiday, I jumped right in.

I’ve been a fan of Nigella’s from the start. I love the stories she tells with her recipes. It’s incredibly personal and makes us, the reader and cook, feel connected. A bit like why I love to read blogs ;).

I love that her recipes are all about minimal fuss and maximum enjoyment.

In Simply Nigella, some of the chapter titles give you a taste (see what I did there?) of Nigella’s food philosophy: Quick and Calm; Bowlfood; Breathe.

Cook simple things. It's not an exam. - Nigella Lawson

The test for me as to whether a new cookbook is going to be a well-used book, is if on the first read through, I find so many recipes that immediately appeal.

This was definitely the case for Simply Nigella and in the last few weeks, my family and I have dipped into the book many times.

My youngest loves to bake with his sister. My “bigs”, the adult kids, are almost out of home for real, so we’ve also been doing cooking lessons during the uni break. Mr SY loves a little kitchen time too.

The great benefit of not banning any particular food from your diet is that you don't obsess about having it. - Nigella Lawson

We sit down to dinner together every night – whether it’s three, four or five of us.

Food is very much a part of our life so I feel great when I take time to plan each week what we’re going to eat. When I plan, I’ve got the ingredients at the ready. When I plan, I’m less likely to reach for one of the takeaway menus on the fridge.

Here’s a little look of some of the things we’ve been whipping up from Simply Nigella – and have loved.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Dip | Simply Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Dip: I made this for our Australia Day gathering. The sweet potato is roasted whole in its skin (too easy). It’s gorgeous and tangy thanks to lime zest and lime juice.

Halloumi with Quick Sweet Chilli Sauce | Simple Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Haloumi with Quick Sweet Chilli Sauce: The boys were at the football one Friday evening so I whipped this up for myself, which was excellent because I didn’t have to share the haloumi.

Quick Gherkins | Simply Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Quick Gherkins: Nigella loves her quick pickling and these have become a firm favourite of ours as a side dish. So incredibly easy to make with peeled cucumbers, white balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, dill and coriander seeds.

Feta and Avocado Salad with Red Onion, Pomegranate and Nigella Seeds | Simply Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Feta and Avocado Salad with Red Onion, Pomegranate and Nigella Seeds: there’s pickling going on again with the red onion. I’ve become a bit addicted. This works as a light meal on its own or a side dish.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Simply Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies: Miss SY and Junior Master SY whipped up two batches of these in as many weeks. Neither batch lasted long.

Nutella Brownies | Simply Nigella | Nigella Lawson

Nutella Brownies: These are basically Nutella and whipped eggs. Baked. They’re not overly sweet so were not as popular with the youngest. I loved them though for that very reason.

How I menu plan

1. Before doing the hunting and gathering, I clean out the fridge and take stock of what’s in there – checking the pantry as well.

2. I start a new “note” on my phone, listing off all the days of the week, adding any information I might need to be aware of for each night, eg anyone being away for work, out for fun, sport activities etc.

3. I then add a meal to each day (utilising a cookbook or two), varying it up each day between different protein sources, styles and flavours.

4. From that menu plan, I then add to the app Wunderlist what fruit and vegetables, meat or fish, and grocery items we need to make those dishes … as well as any items we need for breakfasts and lunches. I love the app as you can tick off what’s been bought as you go (so satisfying!) and Mr SY is linked to it so we can hit up a store together, both with the synced list in hand.

5. I then hit the shops for the fresh stuff and adjust my regular online orders. I rarely go into a supermarket, opting for the convenience and easier budgeting of online grocery ordering.

If you want to learn more about Simply Nigella, head to her website … you’ll find some recipes available online too). Otherwise, do yourself a favour and add this cookbook to your collection.

Buy HERE (hardback)

Buy HERE (iBook)

So tell me, have you got this cookbook? Have a favourite recipe? Do you plan out the menu for the week?

Comments 27

  1. During the week I cook pretty much the same thing every week. Monday is ravioli, Wednesday is chicken schnitzel, etc. This came in to effect to reduce food waste (I always know what I’m cooking) but mainly to stop the kids fighting over what they wanted for dinner. Veggies do change. Then weekends we try new things when there’s more time to spend cooking and teaching my daughters to cook. I use Nigella’s books a lot as she’s so no fuss but loves good flavours. Rarely do I ever have a problem with them not turning out. I’ve now reserved this from my library. Thanks for the sneak peak!

  2. I’ve been “revamping” our family food experience over the last year or so and I use the app “Paprika” for all this.

    For me, failing to plan = plan to eat take out. Not a good result for the waistline, the children’s concept of family dinners, or the wallet!

    The app is the best because you can import recipes straight from a website, create lists, create a menu plan, etc, put it in a calendar etc. Balancing a crazy job, family and home, this has saved my kitchen experience entirely!

  3. I adore Nigella and am looking forward to adding this cookbook to my collection. She really is a food genius! I always plan out the menu for the week, usually based on what’s in season, what’s in the pantry and what’s in the blog archives 🙂

  4. Our everyday meals tend to be driven by what vegetables are in season. We used to get a weekly mixed seasonal vegetable box from a co-op and even when we stopped doing that, we’ve carried on that practice of being driven by the vegies first. If you plan your meals AND cook seasonally you’ll save money and be eating things at their best both from a taste and a nutrition point of view.
    I look for inspiration for quick and easy everyday dishes from Jamie Oliver, Bill Granger and Donna Hay and adapt these to our preferences.

  5. I adore Nigella and might just have to make this my 3rd Nigella cookbook. Bill Granger does great simple cooking too. I think I’m going to have to give this online grocery shopping a go – although my hour at the shops on a Sunday arvo isn’t all bad. I’m kid free and usually treat myself to a milkshake and/or a chocolate.

  6. I also love her new book – last night I made her fish tacos which I’ve made every week since I received her new book for Xmas. I might try the cookies this week !!

  7. love nigella’s cooking and life takes! and her words I hang on everyone of them because!!! word smith genius! … this book looks great! love those plates you’ve made hun!
    you are super organized! … only in my dreams could I do that!
    mr m is organized! we go to the super market, we have the list, he adds in head because want points! he is usually only a few cents out! clap hands!
    often I do the other shops while he’s in there checking ingredients to the nth!
    have a great day lovely! … love m:)X … it’s just started pouring here! like qld!

  8. I don’t have Nigella’s book yet, but it is on the wish list. I did recieve Jamie Olivers new Superfoods one for Christmas, and it is sensational, made the Granola Dust, (which makes a huge batch), and you can then make pancakes, smoothies, puddings and just sprinkle over yoghurt and fresh fruit for brekky, the whole family is into it.
    As for the meal planning, this is something I have done for years, and cannot live without. Both my husband and I are shift workers and have 3 boys, youngest is 17. I now sit down with them and help them each choose a meal to cook each week, to make sure I have the ingredients at hand, and then continue working through the other days of the week, so myself and hubby can cook when we are not on shift. Having the list and majority of ingredients, (sometimes have to get a few fresh items), makes it so much easier, and if for some reason we dont feel like eating that nights “alloted” dinner, we can always change it, as I have preplanned and have the ingredients for one of the other meals. Simple and organised and a little OCD!!

  9. I too love Nigella. I think it might be because she is not “cheffy”. Is it too tragic that I have all her books and DVDs and many of her kitchen and serving ware items? Many of her recipes are on high rotation here. Though for balance, I do have a couple of Jamie’s books. Xx

  10. Hi. Have a look at the Copy Me That app. You can copy any web recipes or write your own and make a shopping list out of the ingredients lists.

  11. I’ve started a whole new way of managing our food lately – largely because himself is training like a demon again, having decided to aim for competing in the Masters Games next year, so he’s eating like a teenaged boy, which means there needs to be food in the fridge ready to eat – or he’ll go down the road and buy Greek or Vietnamese, which is healthy, but wrecks the budget! So, instead of planning meals as such, I’m planning dishes… I’m a HUGE Yotam Ottolenghi fan and have all of his books, and his recipes work really well for this. We’re not eating a lot of meat these days, so in a week, I might cook two or three meat dishes. The rest are veg and grain based, and each day I cook two full sized dishes that we then assemble a meal from – from both the new ones and what’s in the fridge from previous days. Partner does the same thing during the day – using cans of tuna and picking from the leftovers, or making a wrap with them. There’s a constant rotation of quantities of food ready made – and much less inclination on his part to go buy something quick! And it’s feeling less fraught, and rut-like! PLUS, he’s getting addicted to things he never really ate much of – ate most of a spiced pumpkin dish one night that I thought was going to last a few days. It didn’t!

  12. Love Nigella so much. Love all the fabulous photos you have shared. I am not a menu planner I tend to think on the day of what I will cook for dinner depending on who is going to be home at the time. I need to get this book asap. Thank you for sharing. V x

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