In an ideal world, the only people who would have to cook would be those for whom cooking is a joy. In reality though, we are about to enter the season that pushes people who may not normally be drawn to spend much time in the kitchen into having to consider entertaining and feeding guests, preparing the all-important Christmas Dinner, or helping out at the in-laws who are "huge foodies, darling" and who see summer as an endless opportunity to show off with carefully "thrown-together feasts".

The anxiety, for some, is palpable. And I can feel it building. More than ever we are surrounded by pressure to be kitchen gods and goddesses. One of the worst catchphrases I heard this year, in an ad campaign, was "why cook when you can create". Oh dear.

If you're not a skilled or natural cook, getting creative in the kitchen is the worst thing you can do. Much better to use "why cook when you can assemble" as your code of belief. If you are taking the assembly approach though, just make sure that you buy the best quality products that you can afford.

Failing that, I always advise non-cooks to find one dish that can work for either lunch or dinner and to practise the hell out of it! That way you can confidently rock it throughout summer without the thought of cooking it putting you off your food.