Cooking with loadshedding: 8 tricks from the TASTE team

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Cooking with loadshedding: 8 tricks from the TASTE team

For those of us without solar or an inverter, getting a hot dinner on the table has lately become something of a challenge. We asked the TASTE team to share their top tips for cooking before, during or after loadshedding – without breaking the bank

1. Quick stir-fry and curries

“My husband Terry makes a stir-fry: finely sliced pork or chicken fillet tossed in some chopped lemongrass, garlic, chilli, ginger (Woolworths sells this in cubes) and soya sauce.
Slicing it thinly helps it to cook really quickly. He then adds chopped pak choi and some fish sauce to season and we eat it with kimchi and a dollop of mayo. We eat quite a bit of rice and he cooks a big batch of it and keeps it in the fridge.

Or he makes a quick bean curry. Quickly stir-fry a packet of curry paste in a little oil and add a can of coconut milk. Simmer for 3 minutes, add drained beans to heat through. The other night he chopped in thinly sliced cabbage. Serve with rice and cucumber and pineapple salad” – Abigail Donnelly, food director 


Find our stir-fry recipe guide here. 

2. Nacho bowls and chickpea lettuce cups

“Since I’m cooking for one, I love using Woolworths green pesto bulgur wheat salad mixed with Woolworths Greek salad. I like to buy a big piece of salmon, cube it and fry it until the skin is crispy. I then portion out enough for the next day when I know there is loadshedding. I eat it with a lemony mayo and keep the rest for the next day.

Otherwise, I really enjoy smashing a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with a sprinkle of butter chicken spice, garlic and chilli and eating it in lettuce cups with cubed avocado, a dollop of yoghurt and pink pickled onions with cherry tomatoes. It’s so yum!

I also like to make nacho bowls with Woolies’ sriracha mayo, rotisserie chicken, nacho chips, guacamole and sour cream and salsa. They’re delicious and the leftovers are even better in a chargrilled wrap the next day.

In terms of how I’ve changed my shopping, I end up buying more delicious healthier foods ready made from Woolies, they just make cooking for one so much easier and cheaper in the long run because I don’t have to buy all the separate ingredients to make a similar dish.” – Hannah Lewry, contributing food editor 

Beef mince nachos

3. Invest in a Wonderbag

“I cook food early and then leave it in the Wonderbag to keep warm. The dish I make most often is a variation of Sarah Graham’s Happy Life noodles – a bag of Woolies rainbow slaw + miso dressing + rice noodles + shredded poached chicken, served cold.” – Kelly Cloete, Group Account Director 

4. Tray bakes and batch cooking

“If loadshedding is from 4 to 6.30 pm, I prep a one-tray chicken thigh dish that can be put in the oven as soon as the power comes back on. Generally thighs with smoked harissa on a bed of something like cauliflower, baby potatoes or sliced potatoes. Nigella does an Indian-spiced one with coriander and turmeric, and Diana Henry has a great one with dill and feta. Or I make the dish on the latest TASTE cover: chicken pieces cooked with red onions, lemon and herbs, then served on sliced fresh tomatoes.

If loadshedding starts at 6 I do something I can cook on the gas hob or something I’ve batch-cooked and can warm quickly before the power goes off, like Bolognese. I make a big batch at least every two weeks and reformulate the leftovers as chilli con carne in corn tacos (just add cinnamon, cumin, lots of chilli paste, oregano and kidney beans) with guac and pickled red onions.” – Kate Wilson, editor-in-chief


5. Light the braai

“The last time I cooked and it was loadshedding, I made some butter-marinated prawns with tons of lime juice and zest, garlic, chilli, spring onion and coriander. We had it on the braai and it was magical. I served it with a simple tossed salad topped with dukkah.” – Fatima Saib, commercial content editor 

6. Invest in a camping stove

“I have a two-plate gas camping stove so if I’m on the 6 to 8pm outage, it’s something like a rotisserie chicken with pan-seared veggies and Woolies’ microwave potatoes with butter timed to finish just before the power goes out. Otherwise, I love Hannah’s sausage butter bean tray bake also timed to finish in the preheated oven, which will stay hot enough to toast the rostis for 15 minutes after the power disappears. If all else fails, it’s braai and salads!” – Michelle Coburn, deputy editor 

30 minute sausage tray bake

7. Breakfast for dinner

“I’ve changed the way I shop to make sure we always have lots of options for quick-to-prepare dinners before the lights go out. Bangers, fish cakes, schnitzels ¬– anything that can be cooked in under 30 minutes. And when I haven’t made a plan, I’ve discovered there’s nothing wrong with eggs and bacon or an omelette for dinner!

I also boil a large kettle of water before the lights go off and store the hot water in a flask so I can have coffee after dinner. It’s the small things like a warm drink that keep you feeling human!” – Katharine Pope, head of digital content 


Find our breakfast recipe guide here.

8. Plan ahead and shop more frequently

“Planning is my superpower. I plan meals for the week (one meal lasts me two days #LivingAlone), check my loadshedding app more than I check social media (which is a lot since I work on social media) and make sure my cooking times/days line up. I also avoid doing big monthly shops with perishables so I can minimise the risk of food going off. It’s weekly, sometimes daily, shopping for me (thank you grocery delivery apps). Unfortunately, I can’t use a gas stove in my apartment and there is no braai area so planning is my only hope.

My default setting is tomato chutney – with various things chucked in like I did with my dad when I was younger. I use the chutney base to make shakshuka, pasta sauce and toast toppers. It’s quick, budget-friendly and easy to repurpose so I don’t get bored.” – Annzra Denita, online editor 

Tomato curry with coconut-hazelnut riceView the recipe here.

ALSO READ: How making tomato chutney for a year taught me to cook

BONUS: Appliances to help you beat the loadshedding

Not about to invest in a gas oven? These smaller, more affordable appliances can make your life a little easier.

  • Air-fryers can drastically reduce cooking time so you can get something cooked before the lights go off.
  • Wonderbags can keep a boiling pot warm for up to eight hours.
  • A gas braai reaches the desired heat much faster than a wood or charcoal braai and you can easily boil a stovetop kettle on it, too.
  • A good-quality flask will keep water hot until you start craving a cuppa.
  • A mini braai like this one is a great option if you’ve only got a small outdoor space and want something that’s quick and easy to clean.
Katharine Pope Article by: Katharine Pope

TASTE's head of digital content is an adventurous, if somewhat haphazard cook. Her favourite recipes are all either cake, curry, or risotto, and she is an expert at hiding vegetables in unexpected places, to outwit her veg-hating toddler and husband.

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