If you’re still not sure what your new year’s resolution is going to be yet, might we suggest getting into cooking?
Whether you’re already somewhat into cooking, or not at all, there are many ways to get going or even push your already existing cooking skills to the next level!
I’ve always had an interest in cooking for pretty much as long as I can remember. Thinking back, my first influencers would have been Chef Pasquale and Stephen Yan. These two gentlemen really seemed to love what they do and always had fun doing it. On top of this, I came from a relatively large family of 6 where we all learned to cook at a pretty young age. To be honest, my mother was never too fond of being in the kitchen but did it out of necessity, although, she did go out of her way to teach her children the fundamentals at a very young age.
By the age of about 7 or 8, I was already starting to cook. Sure, it was only simple things like eggs, soup, and grilled cheese but it certainly was a start. At 12 I was already cooking full dinners for the whole family and even for friends when they would come over for visits. Now that I’m in my early 30s I’ve been honing my skills more and more each year by simply improving upon my current techniques. In addition, I’ve gone out of my way to start cooking new things that I’ve never thought about before. So far, in 2018 I’ve impressed the hell out of my wife!
Over the past little while, I’ve been asking myself why I’ve always been drawn to cooking. I suppose being a fan of great food is an obvious one, however, I’d have to say that it really comes down to my excellent level of patience and desire to host my friends and family. Sure, there’s also the element of me being a bit of a control freak but I do get along with others in the kitchen, for the most part.
Now, I can understand that many people simply don’t have the patience for cooking, or the care to even learn, but if this isn’t you I strongly believe that you just need the proper influence to get into it. Whether it’s a family member, friend, online or TV personality I feel that there’s an influencer out there for everyone. For me, it’s Chef Michael Smith, hands down. He’s just such a relaxed guy who’s got such an organized way of making use of his ingredients. Nothing is ever just thrown away as there are so many uses for what you already have. Whether he’s making use of vegetable and meat scraps to create various broths or just grinding up stale bread to make breadcrumbs he certainly inspires me to make the most of what I have while being incredibly relaxed in the kitchen.
On top of having some sort of influencer, I’d argue that it’s equally important to have some form of purpose or goal in mind if you’re trying to get into cooking:
Cooking is easily one of the best ways to save money on a regular basis. Sure, you could argue that some fast food can be cheaper but I don’t think I need to get into what that’s going to do to your body in the long-term. Not to mention the compromise in taste and digestion between a home-cooked meal and eating something horrible like Burger King (literally makes me sick every time I eat it).
The one thing about attempting to save money by cooking is to know your food prices. Going to the same, overly expensive, grocery store for everything is going to hurt your wallet, especially if you’re only going to your mid to high-end markets. They occasionally have a great price on items that you typically purchase but that doesn’t mean you should get everything you need there. Instead, you need to know when to walk away and purchase an item you need elsewhere. One thing you should certainly consider is getting your produce at a local, family-owned, market or fruit/vegetable stand. There, you’ll get higher quality produce at literally half of the price.
I should mention that if you’re going to be cooking in order to save money that you really need to be aware of the quantity you’re purchasing and your overall inventory. Don’t purchase things in bulk if they keep going bad on you, or maybe just avoid going to Costco as your regular place to purchase groceries unless you have a lot of mouths to feed. One thing my wife and I have been doing lately is creating a meal schedule for the week before doing our weekly grocery shopping. This ensures that we don’t purchase things that are likely to spoil, especially meat and produce.
This one is a no-brainer as cooking for yourself is almost always going to be healthier than eating out. If it’s not, well, then you should probably revisit your overall diet and look to make some changes. In addition, cooking a frozen pizza or convenience foods, in general, doesn’t count as cooking in my books.
As I’ve already pointed out, your best bet is to find a local market that has great prices on produce. Not only will you save money but you’ll have more fresh produce to cook with on a regular basis. If you don’t have a local family run produce market in town and it’s not the time of year that you’d be able to visit a produce stand your best bet is to make notes on what supermarket in town has the best prices on produce. Typically, the Asian-centric markets have the best value when it comes to produce, however, No Frills and Fresh Co. are decent as well.
Trying Something New
As far as having reasons to start cooking more, or in general, are concerned, doing it out of curiosity will yield the most positive results. I feel that there’s a certain level of necessity to it, however, if it doesn’t interest you or you just don’t have the patience for cooking then you’ll never be able to get into it. Don’t see cooking as a chore, instead, see it as a way to better yourself by learning something new that you can easily share with others.
Even if you’re a pretty decent cook already there’s always new things to try out. Whether it’s starting to make things that you’ve never thought to in the past or want to improve upon your staple recipes there are always new possibilities when it comes to cooking!
For myself, I like to find inspiration through going to new restaurants and deconstructing what’s being served to me so that I can make it myself at home. Often times I’ll recreate a better version than what I was originally served by making use of less fatty ingredients. To do this I need to be able to taste the various ingredients while knowing exactly what they are. In addition, I may have to look up a few renditions of the recipe online before making any attempts myself. The internet is full of people that have cooking blogs and video tutorials on just about anything and just like any sort of research project you’re best bet is to look at varied opinions before making your conclusions.
At the end of the day, I feel like getting into cooking has to be driven by a desire to change your lifestyle or because you simply enjoy it. If you’re already into cooking then 2018 would be an excellent time to expand your horizons to try bold new recipes. In addition, you should start hosting more dinner parties with your friends and family so that you can share your great food with them, perhaps even inspiring others to get more acquainted with a love for cooking themselves!