I am the least qualified person to be writing this. But I decided to write out a little tips section on how to manage both these things in our lives (if we have both responsibilities) .. :). I am struggling with this too, but I have experienced this since, erm 2008. So in Nov 2010, this makes it two years and 4 months worth of experience.
The following is what I believe, workable for a lot of people - even those that are zilch at home-management and cooking (like I was in 2008).
1. Its a great idea to write down responsibilities-of-the-day on a piece of paper. The list can be something like this:
Just a sample. You can add in anything you deem important for the day, any assignments you need to work on, homework etc. And of course, the home responsibilities. Just mark out those (like I have done in blue) the responsibilities that can act as ''fillers'' :D. Like, the things that can be done between major things; when you need a break from work, want some rest and wanna stretch your legs.
Er, :$, I don't usually make a list (I make that rarely waisay), but I always make a mental list - which looks like this one - and thats usually in my brain only. So um, lists are important, wherever you make em.
2. Then, prioritize your work. Re-order the list so that you make it according to the time of the day. Here is a sample of re-ordered list.
If you want even fine-grained task sheet, then you can have timings there, e.g: 9 - 10.30am: Read research papers. Etc. I don't normally do the time thing. But when I did, it helped a lot. Takes a LOAD of will-power.. :). But works in the end.
Now come to the house-work, cooking laundary bit. The thing is, that it always helps when you know what you have to cook, and how long would that food last. Plus, not everything has to be done EACH day. Like, breakfast... has to be done each day. If you're a REAL breakfast person, then you'd go for tea, paratha (always best to buy frozen paratha packs, and store them), eggs, or french toast :P... and umm..cereal. Rotate these around the week, and you won't get bored. :D. But if you're just a cup-of-coffee/tea person, then firstly, that's NOT healthy.. but if you insist, then it er, saves you 15 minutes of preparing-breakfast time... :D
Start your work after breakfast. Always. No checking emails before brushing teeth. Not good at all!
Take a break every 2 hours (again, for health reasons). You CAN work continuously for 4 hours, the brain can be programmed this way. But if you're a PhD student, its no good being wiped out in the first week. You'll get superbly bored. You gotta be consistent. [look whose talking...:o]. Yeah.. so where was I in the lecture?
Two hours, yeah. You need a break after two hours. So keep paper reading in the mornings (if you don't have coursework). Its always good to read complex stuff in the morning, when the brain is fresh. Keep coding in the morning too (you can alternate through the week). So after two hours, think about cooking lunch. If you're cooking for 1 or 2 people, then you have a pretty easy job to do. Do not go for heavy duty items like... karahi and naan ? :D. Maybe you can do that Sundays. But on weekdays, keep it light. You have to work after lunch too, not snore away.
So what do I suggest you can cook for lunch? Er, it totally depends on your taste, but lemme suggest some really simple things that can serve as pretty fulfilling to a beginner cook.
- Baked Chicken: ALL you have to do... is get a boneless chicken (whole) pack from the grocery shop. Take a quarter (or half, it depends on your appetite really) of it. Defrost it. Place it in a platter. Don't forget to grease the bottom of the platter with 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover the chicken with salt [1 tsp should do], chicken tikka masala [or broast masala, or green masala anything works :D but tikka masala is the best]...Then take a packet of frozen veggies... defrost it, and sprinkle them over the chicken, covering the pieces. Simple sprinkle some soy sauce, some veggie masala if you want, and bussssss. Place it in oven, bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Check on it after 20 mins though. The chicken might be stuck to the platter.. :S Happened with me a lot.
- Chicken Salad: If you put the baked chicken (same dish as cooked above) in a bowl and mix cream and mayonnaise in it... you get a chicken salad! Yummilicious :D
- Chicken Salan (curry): If you brown some onions [cut 3 onions into slices, place in 4 tablespoons of oil, and fry them till they're golden], cut 2 tomatoes in that golden onion, and mix the baked chicken (same dish as above) in it, you get chicken salan :D. Just underbake the chicken a lil [say, 15 mins, instead of 30]. And then, all you have to do is add a lil yoghurt [3 tablespoons], and half a cup of water ... and put on stove [halki aanch] for 15 mins. You're done. Salan ready to tanawul-ofye with naan/roti/rice.
- Chicken Pasta: If you boil some noodles (umm, take 1/4ths of the whole box of spaghetti at a time -- the way to boil em is to add 2 tablsepoons of oil to the water in which noodles are boiling, in order to keep them separated), and mix them with the baked chicken (same as the first recipe), you get chicken noodles! Put some ketchup on top (if you like pasta with ketchup), and there you go. Another lunch meal done.
I just mentioned chicken recipes, but of course you can get red meat recipes too. Or others. Try very simple bachkana ones first. But planning is what's really really important. If you plan out properly, then you can do this meal-cooking thing fairly easily. All you have to do is find a 2 hour slot in your whole day [preferably before meal times], and then go for it. By the way, you can download printable meal weekly planners here.
PS: One other thing that can be done is cooking in large amounts on weekends, and getting by on that one dish, the whole week. But one can get pretty bored, and not very happy at eating the same thing (like chicken salan?) the whole entire week! So not cool.
PPS: A good thing you can do with leftover curry is to make rice (plain), and after cooking them, make layers with rice-and-salan in a pot - put the pot on dumm (stove with slow heat) for 15 mins, and you have some nice biryani-style rice! Eat that with yoghurt, and doneeee.
I'll stop now. Sorry I cannot provide any more variety than this. For recipes more er, spectacular than the ones described above, I have to have a recipe-book (or Mum's instructions :D), and lots of timeeeee. And maybe this website :P.
Sorry, things are coming into my mind now. DO not waste time in:
1. MAKING roti.
2. MAKING paratha.
3. Buying all veggies, and cutting them painstaikingly - it takes me an hour!! Believe me, don't be this foolish.