This post goes out to Jennifer of one of my latest favorite food blogs, Slices of Me. Jennifer asked me point-blank in an email just how I manage not eating out, every day. Of particular interest was how I maintained a social life when I couldn’t eat out with friends. So, just a few random habits I’ve picked up from winging it in this neck of the food world:
1. Buy fresh veggies often, and many different types. I go to the Farmers’ Market each Saturday to load up on whatever strikes my fancy. This will not only lead to creativity (sweet potato and pork stir-fry? Why not?!), but you’ve just inherited a perishable presence in your refrigerator, and if you have any heart for the hardworking farmers who brought you this quality produce through sweat and toil, and respect for the earth’s bounty in itself, you will — no, you must — figure out a way to cook them before they rot. (You will.)
2. Cook once, eat twice. Or three times. Or maybe even four. Meaning, invest your energy in at least two satisfying meals whenever you make the effort to cook. (Or have an alternate plan for the same ingredients.) This might sound like a no-brainer when making big pots of, say, soup, but think ahead even when you want to just have a simple a grilled chicken breast with sauteed spinach. Put a lid on your second serving and take it to work to eat for lunch. If you really have a whole lot of something, like chili (as I did recently), and can’t stomach it for a third meal in a row (yep), put a lid on it and then freeze it. Now you have a frozen TV dinner for whenever you’re in a pinch.
3. Feed your appetite to learn. If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to tell you to check out all the food fanaticism on the Internet. But not only that, read cookbooks. Watch Jacques Pepin or whatever TV chef annoys you the least. I have a feeling a lot of people are so discouraged by their past cooking disasters that they brace themselves before pouring milk into a bowl of cereal. We all screw up to inedible results sometimes, but it all leads to a better understanding of food. Oh, and I try to read up on recipes or something cooking-related right around the time I get the hungriest (usually 5:00pm). It seems to be a good motivator.
4. Give your friends grub. You know those types who always bring cookies or cupcakes to share at work? Well, it may not always work in the office, but when you treat your good friends to any home-cooked offering, chances are, they’ll invite you for another round at their place. Then you’ll exchange recipes, talk about food, and basically encourage each other to cook a whole lot more. And if you really want to be hardcore about the communal aspect of eating in, join a supper club, or go to events like Grub. Or form club of your own — heck, who wants to form one with me?
5. Consider walks to the grocery store extra exercise, not a pain in the neck. I know the same could also be said for walking to the cute neighborhood restaurant, or the pizza place ’round the corner. Yet most people I know have a problem with walking to and from the grocery store, and not the pizza place. So basically, give yourself extra kudos when you go to the grocery store, because on top of getting the same exercise, you won’t be eating greasy pizza or other overly rich restaurant food.
So many random tips, so little time to sleep! But as long as this blog runs, there will be plenty more to come.