Nutrition is important. Unless you’re rich you’re not going to be able to eat all of your meals at restaurants, and too many prepackaged meals use hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup or fatty meats. Ergo, cooking is a basic skill you should know and practice. In addition to saving money and eating more nutritious foods, when you get to the third or fourth date with a woman, treating her to a delicious home-cooked meal at your place is almost guaranteed to get you to the next level. (It’s never failed me.)
I previously offered some links to sites that can help you stock your pantry and a list of kitchen items everyone should have, but now it’s time to start actually using these items to create meals. Fortunately, our friends at WikiHow have prepared a big list of tips to help you on your way to feeding yourself from something other than a can.
Their first tip, find your motivation, is important. Cooking should be more than a chore, and as you get the hang of it you might even find it a great way to take your mind off the day. I would add that if you don’t have time to cook during the week, make yourself a batch of food on Sunday and refrigerate (most dishes will keep for up to a week) or freeze individual portions.
You’ll also learn how to shop:
- Plan ahead and bring a grocery list.
- Keep your pantry stocked. Not only will you always have ingredients for a meal, you’ll have a leg up in an emergency.
- Find the best deals. Sometimes that means a larger package, other times the smaller package is actually less expensive per ounce.
- Make sure to buy some fresh vegetables and fruit. Salad in a bag does count as fresh vegetables.
- Divide uncooked food into separate portions.
- Deli items or packaged foods such as frozen vegetable blends can help you to prepare your meals faster.
I always keep a bag of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer, and pull a few out to thaw a day or so before I want to make a chicken dish. With a crock pot you don’t even have to defrost: just toss the frozen breasts in with the other ingredients and let the cooking begin.
The WikiHow article includes preparation tips:
- Don’t try to cook an entire day’s meals from scratch — concentrate on one key meal.
- Create your own mixes for faster preparation.
- Freeze meats in a freezer bag along with sauce or marinade to save a later preparation step.
- Make a “master dish” (they call it a “base”) you can re-use in other recipes, like a roasted chicken or pork chops.
- Treat yourself by baking breads or cakes.
And finally, make eating a ritual, even if it’s by yourself. You’ve prepared yourself a great meal, don’t eat it out of the pan over the sink. Sit down and use the “good” dishes. Then make sure everything gets washed or placed in the dishwasher ASAP.
As you cook more and more, you’ll find yourself improvising (sometimes with gag-inducing results, but that’s part of the learning process). You’ll be able to prepare meals quickly and easily, eating healthy and saving a wad of cash in the process. While I don’t consider myself a master chef or even a “foodie,” I can create meals that I prefer over most dishes I could get from nearby restaurants.
How to Cook for Just Yourself [WikiHow]