The art of sharehouse cooking: How to impress your housemates in the kitchen

The art of sharehouse cooking: How to impress your housemates in the kitchen

Words by Eva Marchingo

Because there’s more to cooking than your weekly spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread.

After months of lockdown, those living in a sharehouse would have spent plenty of time in the kitchen cooking for their housemates.

For many of us, occupying the kitchen for extended periods of time has fostered some handy cooking skills set to hold us in good stead going forward. We’ve learnt new dishes and cooked different cuisines. We’ve mastered the classics and studied the masterpieces.

For those still after some tips on how to sharpen their cooking craft, we’ve put together a guide on how to impress your housemates in the kitchen; because there’s more to cooking than your weekly spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread.

Make time for house dinners

First things first, you need to make sure you’ve got some time up your sleeve for a nice night in.

With our COVID-normal lives resuming, it seems there is less overlap of downtime between housemates, so you’ll want to pencil something in and make it worth your while.

Sometimes all you need is half an hour where you’re all together. And whoever thinks quick meals can’t be delicious is sorely mistaken. There are ample flavour-filled meals to be made in just 15 minutes.

Or you can book in a whole night of housemate fun – reminiscent of family dinner time, you could do a Sunday roast. Call the house down from their weekend shenanigans and enjoy a meal together to start the working week.

A Sunday night dinner is a wholesome shared experience so you’ll want something to match that energy. You can pull out the big guns for a full-on roast: beef and Yorkshire puddings, pork with crackling, or a delicious Moroccan lamb. Or you can set your mind to an equally hearty slow-cooked meal like osso bucco or Irish stew.

If your house prefers to enjoy a few drinks on your nights in, then hop into your best kit for Formal Friday dinner. Take turns whipping out your best dishes – from Ottolenghi salads to a whole fresh fish that barely fits in your oven, the possibilities are endless.

If you’re feeling game, match your dinner menu with a drinks list of wines or cocktails.

Make sharehouse mealtime into a competition

It’s time to turn your tiny kitchen into the Masterchef kitchen by making a friendly competition out of your shared mealtimes.

Rope everyone into the cooking experience by taking turns with different dishes. You could do a potluck style dinner or take it day-by-day or week-by-week to each show off your culinary proficiency.

If you want to take it a step further, you could assign themes to your cooking days. Travel the world from the comfort of your own home with South America week or India week. Make yourself your very own mystery box with the weird and wonderful vegetables you find at the grocer – hello kohlrabi and celeriac. Vegan week, Keto week, Low GI week – the list goes on.

If you’re keen to crown a winner of the competition, put in for a nice bottle of champagne or have a prize pool of money to be won. That will really kick your housemates into gear.

It’s not all about the cooking

Sharehouses are notorious for being a bit rough around the edges. You’d be hard-pressed to find a sharehouse with matching cutlery and crockery, and don’t even attempt to find matching stemware.

If you want to add a little layer of formality to your next house dinner, scour some op shops for new sets of eating utensils. You don’t have to go all out, and you could even curate a mismatched selection too.

Presentation is a major part of the dining experience. You could focus on creating an Attica-quality piece of art on the plate, or you could simply make sure the family-style table arrangement looks exciting with fun serving ware, a pretty table runner, or a vase of flowers.

If you’re struggling to make a dish look as delicious as it tastes, there’s a secret weapon you can use – herbs. If your beef stew is looking less than appealing, smother it with a mound of roughly-chopped parsley. If your ginger and chilli fish seems like it has just been thrown on the plate from the bottom of a boat, coriander is your best friend. The green will really pop.

Make the planning side of things easy for yourself

If your idea of a perfect night in with your housemates revolves more around backyard beers and scrabble tournaments than being cooped up in the kitchen, then you don’t want anything too time-intensive, and that includes the planning side of things as well.

A food box delivery service will take the hassle out of deciding what to cook. Say goodbye to the hours lost trawling through the ancient cookbooks in your sharehouse, and say hello to HelloFresh.

Food box delivery services take the mental load off by providing you with all the ingredients you need to make scrumptious meals. The good ones are even colour-coded, making them entirely fool-proof.

Take it from someone who sincerely thought they were eating their Mum’s best recipes for weeks on end before realising they were all from HelloFresh – food delivery boxes are no joke. And as a meat and bread snob – only ever buying free-range and fresh – I cannot tell the difference between what comes from the butcher and what’s in a HelloFresh box.

We’re not going to lie, we’ve obviously given HelloFresh a fair old plug here, but that doesn’t mean our appraisal of them isn’t impartial. Get cooking, friends!

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