The recipe community makes it seem like one-and-done type meals are the pinnacle of home cooking. And if you crack open a cookbook or browse a few food blogs, that’s mostly what you’ll see. But for people who don’t already have experience in the kitchen, this is wildly inefficient.
Photo by jeffreyw.
Say you want to cook a typical, single-meal recipe you found for dinner. Think about that process for minute. You have to decide on the recipe, stop at the store on your way home from work, pick out all the ingredients you need (because that great-looking recipe always has a few secret, fancy ingredients you don’t have at home), then drive home and finally cook it.
Sure, meal-kit services can ease some of that pressure. But, as Tom Philpott at Mother Jones points out, this still keeps you on the “one-dinner-at-a-time treadmill”. This time consuming process turns a lot of would-be cooks off, sending them straight for the take-out menus.
Instead of trying to work your way through cookbook after cookbook, develop a system for making a few of your favourite dishes with as little wasted effort as possible. If you can find a way to make a week’s worth of different dinners out of the same four or five ingredients, you’re on the right track.
Not only do you save time and money doing this, you make cooking a habit and get better at it through repetition. After all, if you only do something once, you’re not really learning it.
Then, once you’ve got a good cooking system down, you can start branching out and experimenting. When you find something you really like, you find a way to incorporate it into your system instead of letting the new dish disrupt it. With a systematic approach to home cooking, take-out can be saved for those fancy dishes you haven’t incorporated yet.