Best Meals for Men Who Hate to Cook
BY: Paul Berger
Why is it that if you ask a man to char a hunk of meat over a large open flame he goes misty eyed, but give him a package of chicken and a frying pan, and he will look at you as though you are insane? “It’s not that I hate to cook,” a friend told me recently. “I just don’t know how.”
Most men grow up without being encouraged to cook, and in adulthood they quickly find someone else to do it for them, notes Dave Joachim, author of more than 30 cookbooks, including A Man, A Can, A Plan: 50 Great Guy Meals Even You Can Make! (Rodale 2002). This is a shame, really, because cooking is a valuable skill. There’s no better way to lose weight, gain muscle or manage your heartburn than by regulating your own diet. What’s more, the pleasure you can get from cooking is not dissimilar to thrills men seek in other areas of life.
Hunting: Why Men Love Meat
“Hacking something apart with a knife and then burning it is not really a female way of doing things,” says Joachim. That’s why, for most men, meat is the most fun ingredient in any meal.
- For a healthy steak, choose a lean cut, such as flank, sirloin or tenderloin. Broil it in the oven or sauté it quickly in a pan using vegetable oil rather than butter.
- Chicken breasts and pork chops can be roasted in the oven or sautéed as above.
- “By banging the meat out to one-eighth or one-quarter inch thick, it will cook faster -- and you can take out the day’s frustrations, too,” says Joachim. “Just cover the meat with plastic wrap and pound it flat with a heavy skillet.”
- If you thought meat was easy, fish is even simpler and healthier. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, such as salmon and mackerel, have been shown to fight heart disease and depression, according to Grotto. Simply place a fillet on some foil in a baking tray, drizzle a little olive oil over the top and cover with dill. Bake for 20 minutes and eat.
- If you’re feeling a little adventurous, attempt a stew. “Stews are full of nutrients,” says Dave Grotto, registered dietitian and author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life (Bantam Books 2007). “And stewing meats are often low in fat.” Stews are also easy to make. Generally, all you need is some meat -- chicken, pork, beef or lamb -- and a few vegetables, such as onions, carrots, peppers and canned tomatoes.
Farming: Back to the Land
Once you’ve got your protein, you’re going to want some sides:
- While wielding a knife has its appeal, if you can’t face chopping vegetables, look for precut veggies, available in most grocery stores.
- For simple roasted vegetables, use a toaster oven. Drizzle vegetables, such as asparagus or green beans, with olive oil and bake at 400 F for 8 minutes.
- For the very lazy, you can eat your veggies raw. Buy precut, prewashed “salad in a bag.”
- Few foods are easier than a baked potato. Just prick some holes with a fork (to stop it from exploding) then place it in the microwave for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the spud. “Potatoes have lots of great complex carbs to sustain energy and they are one of the richest sources of vitamin C and potassium,” says Grotto.
- Couscous cooks in less than 5 minutes, notes Joachim. Pasta takes a tiny bit longer but is equally easy.
- Who wants to wait 50 minutes for rice? Instead, look for precooked brown rice or whole-grain pilaf that cooks in 90 seconds or less in the microwave.
Finally, don’t underestimate the effect a man-cooked meal can have on the ladies. Many women are impressed by men who cook. So if feeding yourself isn’t enough to get you into the kitchen, consider the effect it can have on your mate. “Men see the benefit in cooking when they get praise for their skill,” notes Joachim. “When they get something out of cooking that they find worthwhile, then it becomes valuable.”
Paul Berger is a contributing writer for Live Right Live Well. An author/contributing editor of six books, he contributes regularly to a variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Forbes and The Guardian. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.