When I was on the weight-loss diet that Joe prescribed for me last year I more or less had to cook for myself to keep inside my 1500 calorie allowance. Joe prescribed grilled chicken as an evening meal but that got too bland after just two nights. So I chopped the chicken up, added canned tomatoes and curry powder and threw it into my crockpot with a bit of onion -- and cooked it there for about 3 hours. That was an improvement but not by a lot. It was still pretty bland. The curry powders I was using were local ones like Keens and Clive of India and I found that I had to put half the container of powder into the dinner to get much taste out of it.
So after a while I went to a local Indian grocer and got some real Indian curry powder -- such as Achar Gosht. It still didn't make a great curry, however. A good curry is fatty and I was trying to avoid that. So no added ghee or marrow-bones etc. So I ate a lot of rather basic curries last year. But I like curries! And, like Joe, I am not bothered by having the same thing night after night.
As you do, I eventually went off my diet so had to rethink my food.
Partly because I don't like driving at night anymore, and partly because I felt I needed to give Nandos, KFC, McDonalds, Chinese and Lebanese restaurants and such places a bit of a rest (splendid though their offerings are -- Sing Sing Chinese restaurant at Buranda gives a very nice Vietnamese lemon grass chicken dinner for only $13.99), I decided that I should mostly ditch going out for dinner and instead prepare my own meals at home. My first step in that direction was to buy frozen dinners. So all I had to do was pop them in the microwave. And that was very successful. The frozen dinners I get from Woolworths seem to me pretty much as good as what I would get from a restaurant. Over time they have really improved.
Then I moved on to things that just had to be heated up in my gas oven -- pizzas, pies etc. And that worked pretty well. I just followed the instructions on the label about how long to heat the product and that mostly worked out fine. I did rather overcook a pizza once but most of it was OK. It was "good in parts", to quote an old joke
Recently, however, I have been tempted by "assisted" cookery -- where some packet or other says: "Just add meat" -- or the like. The idea is that some corporate chef has put together some flavouring substances into a sachet or bottle and that takes care of all the thinking, talent and creativity. And it works. Anne politely eats my creations of that sort and has always found them acceptable. I have made some reasonable curries by just adding a bottle of sauce to mince. Mr Patak of Lancashire is a particularly good provider of such bottles.
My best effort of that kind was a chili con carne. I just added a can of diced tomato plus a can of beans to 500g of good beef mince and left it it to the oven and the flavour sachet to do all the work. And Anne actually praised that creation. A problem, however, is that both Woolworths and Aldi seem to be sold out of Chili con Carne sachets so if anyone reading this sees some on sale somewhere local I would appreciate the information
And I have just now dived deeper into complexity. I bought a packet which described itself as a "Tandaco one-pan dinner" with savoury noodles. The packet contained a sachet of noodles and a flavour sachet. It was a product to which I had to add measured quantities of a few things -- not just meat. I had to add onion, garlic, Oyster sauce and curry powder. Rather daringly, I added Achar Gosht for the curry powder. The recipe was probably designed around Keens or the like.
And the result was quite good. It was a pleasant taste but not like any other taste that I could describe. A catch, however, was that the recipe produced rather a lot of food. When it says on a packet "serves 4" I generally discount that and expect it to feed only two. But this time the claim was spot-on. It took me four days to eat it all! So that worked out at less than $3 per dinner, which is very reasonable.
So that is where I am up to at the moment. I have just bought myself a special pancake frying pan and a packet of pancake mix so strange things could happen soon.