How does one make time to learn to cook?Making the time is a matter of motivation: a balance of budget vs hunger vs being really tired of restaurant or prepared food.
Doing it is a bit different.
I am a great fan of Mark Bittman who for many years wrote a column for the New York Times called The Minimalist. It includes short video's. He has published books as well. If you access the NYT website, search "101 bittman". The NYTimes has a paywall that allows you a number of articles per month. Going to the "101" columns gets multiple recipes with one hit. There will be things like 101 things to grill, 101 things to start the morning etc..
The link is an example. Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less
The recipes are very simple and are often variations on a basic recipe. He does not require complicated techniques or equipment. I can't say how the actual dishes would appeal to a South Asian palate, but the concepts should translate well.
When my daughter went to university and had her own apartment, I printed the column above and mailed it to her with a decent kitchen knife, a cutting board and some simple spices (I am in the US- this would change depending on what your tongue is used to: Lemon pepper blend, cinnamon, garlic powder and dried basil). She has done quite well in the kitchen.
I own a couple of his books. They are worth the money.
So I can answer this one. Being a bachelor, finally decided to learn to cook.
Best way: Call up your mom / family. Get them to dictate 10 recipes to you (like 3-4 per call). Write them down in a book and keep on fridge. Then just follow them and make the dishes.
Innovation will come naturally when you run out of some ingredients unexpectedly and you'll develop your own style.
Remember just one simple dish per meal. Add rice or some sort of bread / pasta, and you're done.
Only learn simple dishes that you think are home-food. Don't make complicated crud you wouldn't want to eat too often - waste of learning time.
You don't have to make time to learn to cook.
Heck, you don't have to learn to cook. It is one of those things that is perfected by practice.
But still, for beginners, start with the most basic recipe that belongs to your native cuisine (I started with rice, pulse and fried potatoes). I know it's not much but overtime when you get the hang of what spice add what flavor and such several nuances, you will be having your own, customized, experimented dishes.
Good luck and (hopefully) good food! :D
Read 'method' at the back of your Masala Oats packet :p
PS: It will surely take more than 5 minutes..and finally add salt to taste!