Ah, there’s nothing like a good home cooked meal. I didn’t fully appreciate them until I went off to college and got to enjoy cafeteria food for four years, and now I have a new appreciation for them as I’m the one consistently making them. I have only been cooking for myself and my husband for about five months, so I have a lot of growing to do as a cook. In that short time, however, I’ve learned a few important lessons on how to keep home cooking delicious without breaking the bank or using up my entire evening.
I try to find the most complicated or expensive part of the recipe to see if there is a faster and cheaper way to go or find a shortcut for some ingredients that I use in a variety of recipes. Bags of frozen chopped onions are one of my favorite time- and energy-savers. This way I can focus on perfecting the parts of recipes that need a little more effort, or I can feel more comfortable about trying something new when I don’t have to think carefully about every step and chop another onion. Read about more ways to simplify your home cooking.
I’ll try to make one or two new recipes a week and then stick to our faithful favorites the rest of the time. To grow as a cook, though, I’ve started to experiment and make these familiar recipes my own. I’ll use a different type of meat, pair it with a new side or leave out something that I don’t love. Finding that balance between reinventing the wheel and getting stuck in a rut is key, and it makes meals so much more enjoyable. You can even pick a main ingredient like a meat and make it stretch for multiple nights. I’ll buy a package of ground beef and add it to my spaghetti sauce one night and use it for tacos another — mixing it with pinto beans makes it go even farther. Find recipes that share a main ingredient (like a pork roast) but not flavors (like pulled pork sandwiches and carnitas burritos), and watch your grocery list shrink!
You’ve probably heard that “it’s all about the seasoning.” Well, I’ve learned the hard way that this is true. Skipping these ingredients can make a dish flop, but including the right ones can make it shine. Adding some salt and pepper to meat before I cook it, replacing a few dried herbs with fresh ones or adding a splash of vinegar to create some zing has made all the difference in even simple recipes. Take your home cooking a step further by researching flavors that pair well and then adding your own seasonings as you go. Find more tips on how to elevate your dishes’ flavor.
Want to learn more about home cooking? Join us for our Homestyle Cooking class on January 21. You’ll take away tips and techniques to create delicious, traditional homestyle meals from scratch. Call 405.377.3333 with questions or register here. To find out about more courses like this, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Abby McCain is the Communications and Marketing Secretary at Meridian Technology Center.