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There’s food at home.
The line we heard as kids and now tell ourselves as adults.
When it comes to personal finance, one of the biggest line items in my budget is food. Between grocery stores and eating out, it is almost always the biggest variable spend.
Being mindful of both spending and food waste is a huge motivator for cooking at home. It’s an activity I have learned to enjoy doing with both my partner and roommates, but also solo.
You don’t have to be an expert at cooking, especially if you don’t enjoy doing it. But don’t let the belief, “I am bad at cooking” keep you from trying. Just like any other skill, cooking can be learned through time and practice. You probably won’t love every single thing you make, but you may surprise yourself with how easy it can be to make delicious food at home.
A NEW SERIES
A new series I am working on here: YOU HAVE FOOD AT HOME. I’m no recipe blogger, but the plan for this is to share recipes and tips I use at home to help cut costs and reduce food waste. I want it to be simple and easy to use, without too much fluff for the sake of a word count.
FIND YOUR WHY:
When starting a new goal, it’s important to figure out why you’re doing it in the first place.Maybe you want to reduce your carbon footprint or looked at your variable spending last month and don’t value the mediocre takeout you had for dinner. Whatever the reason, take some time to think about it and write it down.
If you need motivation to cook, you can look back at this quick journal entry and reflect on why you started learning in the first place.
For me, cooking is a way I can connect and show love to my partner. Very early on in our relationship, he showed me how to make a simple tomato masala. That week, I heard a podcast where the cookbook, “Classic Indian Cooking” was talked about. I ordered it immediately and years later, it is still my favorite book.
Since we both learned about cooking from our parents, we take turns taking the lead on a recipe. I get to learn how to cook his Amma's recipes and he tastes the fun cuisine I learned to make in the midwest.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS, BUT KEEP IT SIMPLE
When you first get started, take inventory of everything you already have in your kitchen. From pots and pans to knives and cutting boards. Before buying anything, see what you already have.
Here’s a list from Bon Appetit of 10 essentials to get started. As you cook, you’ll figure out other tools that make tasks easier and if they’re worth investing in. You don’t need much to get started on a cooking journey and might already have most of what you need!
Living in Brooklyn means I’m a hop and skip away from the best food I could want. I love eating out and it’s something my partner and I do together. When choosing a place to eat, we love supporting Palestinian and other halal places. We order the dishes we can’t quite make at home or aren't as good when we do.
Take a look at the food you pick up for lunch or get delivered at home. More often than not, a copycat recipe is simple and you can make it at home. I recommend picking 2 or 3 recipes that can be flexible and made in big batches. This ensures variety and once you get into a rhythm, shopping and meal prep becomes much easier.
Pasta is a great place to start and can be dressed up with veggies or protein. There are always lentils in my pantry to make simple dal and I can make tacos out of most things in my kitchen. A few days a week are planned but I leave space to cook other more complicated recipes when I have time or a fun reason.
There are many great reasons to cook at home. You have more control over your food, it can be budget friendly, and cooking is fun. There are people out there who are professionals at this, so don’t be discouraged if every dish doesn’t come out exactly how you hoped. Use recipes as guides and don’t worry about getting every step exactly right or if you're missing a spice.
PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
The more you practice, the more you learn and improve. Watch videos, some attainable and some aspirational. Seeing passionate people talk about food will make you hungry and maybe even motivated to give it a try!
What are some of your favorite things to cook? Link your favorite recipes in the comments or some of your favorite food people on the internet!