Recently whilst chatting with friends about what we were having for dinner I said we were having a cooking free night. Naturally everyone wanted to know what we would be having.
Back when our children were young we didn’t call it a cooking free night we referred to it as a “Nibbles Night “and they loved it. It is quite simple really, we just put out a selection of food so that everyone can help themselves. We put out plates and napkins but the criteria is that food can be eaten with the fingers.
Normally we use leftovers because it is the ideal way to use things up. Leftover chicken, sausages and meat patties are all just as good when eaten cold. We cut or slice the food into pieces and arrange it on a platter with bits and pieces such as celery or carrot sticks.
Generally a platter consists of cold meats, cheese, celery, carrot, pickles, lettuce or rocket. We usually also like a few fruits such as grapes, dates and figs. If there are going to be more than two of us we add extras, typical of which are boiled eggs, pate, pork pies and a bigger selection of cheese. Depending on availability we put out biscuits for the cheese and slices of crusty bread or French stick.
Presentation is important to us so we make it look as appealing as possible. Whenever our children and their partners come to visit us we have a cooking free night as a matter of course, it is always a big favourite plus of course it is so easy peasy.
Healthy Cooking Free
Some people have actually said to us that a cooking free night isn’t as healthy as meat and two veg and isn’t a real meal. We don’t have a nibbles night every week and the rest of the time we eat plenty of fruit and vegetables so we reckon it evens itself out.
Besides, raw carrot and celery are always part of the platter, then we may have other salad items that are in the fridge at the time. There is no cooking therefore no fats, no sauce and the only carbs are the biscuits and bread.
A recent addition to our nibbles has been Rigor Spratts, these are like sardines and are full of omega3, we love them.
Another cooking free night is the humble sandwich. I remember this came in very handy when our son and daughter were working and living at home. On a Wednesday night we would all get home from work and for various reasons needed to be washed and changed and out the door within the hour. It was pretty hectic so I used to make a huge plate of sandwiches and we always managed to eat together before everyone took off.
Sometimes I bought a cooked chicken and made chicken sandwiches which were hugely popular and other times I put out a selection. Some of the favourites were tinned salmon mixed with a little mayonnaise and paired with lettuce or cucumber.
Boiled eggs mixed to a creamy texture with mayonnaise and paired with alfalfa sprouts or shredded lettuce. Ham with mustard or pickle and good old cheese and tomato. The secret is to use fresh bread and keep the sandwiches moist by covering them with a clean damp tea towel.
We don’t eat bread every day, so sandwiches have become a bit of a treat. Chris used to eat a sandwich for lunch every day but in a bid to keep our weight down we changed it. Lunch now consists of an apple, a piece of cheddar cheese, a fresh date and some grapes.
It works well for us and we keep the weight off. Since we retired we aren’t so physically active even though we walk every day and try to keep moving. We aren’t able to burn off the calories as we did when we were working.
The great thing about being retired is that we can please ourselves about when we eat. Our working environment meant that meals were always rushed and sometimes missed altogether. We particularly relish being able to sit down for meals and take as much time as we like. We also like the freedom of eating what we like when we like, hence the appeal of a cooking free night.