I love cooking things from scratch because I get a lot of satisfaction from the cooking process, and I can control exactly what's in it. The Slimming World plan is great for me to follow, because proper home cooking is encouraged, as its always going to end up lower syns than a pre-bought ready meal. The third superfree rule is also easy to achieve when I'm cooking everything, as I can always sneak in some extra vegetables either in sauces or on the side.
Unfortunately the only problem with having to cook everything from scratch can be the time involved. Sometimes I've had a busy day, sometimes I'm tired, other times I just want something quick and it would be all too easy to phone for a takeaway. I've tried to get around this in the past by bulk cooking, and freezing, but the problem with this is remembering to take things out the freezer in the morning so that they defrost (and I'm never at my best in the mornings). I also have a few quick and easy meals (such as my penne arrabiata, which is already listed on here), but I don't like having them too often as the key for me is having a wide variety of meals so I don't get bored.
I've recently came across a great solution - a way to create delicious, homemade, easy and low-syn meals, through using spice kits from Sugar and Spice: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Sugar-and-Spice-Kits, run by the lovely Diane Prince. Diane sells ready made bags of spices to allow you to easily make your own dishes, without having to buy in lots of different spices and measure them out. There are a range of kits to chose from, including curries, casseroles, side dishes and soups, so there should be something to suit all tastes! All you need to do is add the appropriate vegetables/meat, and follow the clear recipe which is included with the spices. Kits are priced at only £1.50 and feed 4 people. They are all syn free, and if any synned items are used in the recipe Diane has already worked out the syns per portion for you. It really is easy!
Last night I tried out the Andhra Chilli Chicken. I'd ordered a few packs of spices but this was the one I was desperate to try because I love a really spicy curry, and this one was marked as hot (though don't worry - there are plenty of milder curry options available). The kit came in two bags. One was used to make a paste with tomato puree and water, and then added into a frying pan, along with chicken, vegetables and the second bag of spices. That was it! One of the easiest curries I'd ever made, and only half a syn per portion (from the tomato puree). I served it with homemade syn-free pilau rice, and really enjoyed the meal. The flavours were perfectly balanced, it was as hot as was described, and I honestly couldn't have expected better. In fact it was so good, that I'm having some more tonight (there's only 2 of us living here, so half the recipe was left over)!
I've got another few spice kits already to try, which I'm really looking forward to having a go at next time I want a quick and tasty meal, and I will definitely be ordering from Sugar and Spice again.
I'm sure I've said on this blog before that I'm a bit of a curry-a-holic, and I am used to making my own curries from scratch, however this always tends to be a jalfrezi (with slight variations), as this is the one that I perfected myself over quite a few years of trying out different spice combinations. I've tried making other curries, but never been entirely happy with them, however Diane seems to have perfected the combination of spices required for the different recipes, so I can stop trying, and start buying!
Finally, I would also just like to stress that although these kits give you a healthy way to cook these dishes, I would definitely recommend them to anyone wanting to cook a curry from scratch, regardless of whether you're following an eating plan or not. The quality is excellent, they're easy to make and I can honestly say the one I tried was just as good I'd get from any restaurant, without all the horrible oil swimming around. The shop is listed above - please go and have a look!