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Home cooked dinners for people who don’t have time to make them

A wise friend and gym addict once told me that there’s no such thing as not having time to do something – it’s just about prioritizing what you want to make time for. It’s a philosophy I’ve subscribed to ever since: the reason I don’t go to a gym has nothing to do with not having time for it and everything to do with not wanting to make time for it. Likewise, the fact that I’ll spend an hour cooking when I get home from work isn’t because I have more time than many people; it’s simply because I like spending an hour pootling about in my kitchen.

All this being said, there are times when even the most dedicated of home cooks get stuck in the office of an evening and runs out of time to make it to the shops to buy groceries, let alone turn them into something edible afterwards. For me, February is that time – it’s the apex of what’s known among those of us involved as “Reporting Season” and it’s rare to be home before 8 in the evening.

That, mercifully, is where Marleen comes in. A talented and entrepreneurial home cook, her website MarleenKookt.nl offers a daily changing choice of main courses (meat/fish or vegetarian) plus options for kids teas, starters and desserts (not that you need three courses – the portions are very generous).


Marleen kookt

The first time I ordered, I got a red cabbage and walnut pie (ready to re-heat in the oven) with a crunchy salad of celeriac, potato, green beans and dill. I had leftovers for work the next day (bonus!) and I felt considerably less guilty than I would have done if I’d ordered a takeaway: Marleen’s dishes contain at least 200g veges per person, and fall well within the recommended limits of salt and sugar. They’re also freshly prepared to order each day, with very few additives, just as though you were cooking for yourself.

There are, inevitably, a few downsides to the concept. Marleen Kookt is not a takeaway service – you can’t phone them up and expect delivery 40 minutes later. You have until the evening before to order, and you need to know that you (or a house mate) are going to be at home for the half-hour time slot you’ve chosen for delivery between 4 and 8 pm – for many busy professionals, this is sadly by no means a given…

But, presented with a choice between fresh, home-cooked food from Marleen’s team and a greasy takeaway curry, I know which I’d prefer… Which is why tonight at 7.30 pm, I’m expecting French chicken with horseradish dip to be arriving at my doorstep. The first time, I was lucky enough to be treated to dinner my Marleen herself; this time, I will most definitely be paying – and it’ll be money well spent. Hell – I might even order from Marleen come March, when I do have time to cook again…

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