Although patio season was just here, the second wave of the pandemic is amongst us and we may need to revert back to living how we were a couple months ago. This means we will probably continue to suffer financially before we’re able to recover.
However, we can help cushion our financial loss by limiting our entertainment and dining expenses significantly.
Yeah, it’s common sense that if you purchase food from a local restaurant or a fast-food chain it’s obviously cheaper! But when you’re receiving quality food from your own hands it can be rewarding, especially if you’re feeding more than one person.
But what if you don’t know how to cook?
Who cares! Cooking requires patience and attention and if you can scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed for more than 20 minutes of your time, you can definitely focus your attention to create something within that same amount of time!
Repurpose your perspective! Change your focus!
To create a tasty meal does not mean it will only be tasty. You will know exactly what you’re putting into your meals, how it’s being cooked, and maybe you’ll be able to meet the required nutrients you were supposed to consume that day.
Regardless of what it is, it does ultimately save money, and frankly your time in the long run so you don’t have to put in those extra hours to painstakingly pay off your credit card debt from just mainly food expenses.
However, cooking does require patience, preparation if you want to make it easier on yourself, which you can do a day or two beforehand if you’re trying to maximize the time you have. And last but not least some spices that will excite your tastebuds.
Here are the 4 ingredients that I include in almost all my meals.
Onions are my staple ingredient. Whether they are purple, yellow, green or even pearl onions they are included in almost everything I cook. I cannot live without them!
How I like to add them into my recipes is that I dice them using a knife or a slap chop convention device (to avoid the tears and potentially losing my hand). Get your pot, pan or whatever you’re using to cook your meal, add any type of fat that you’re comfortable with eating at a low-to-medium heat and sauté to your hearts content!
The thing with onions is that they can be a pain in the bottom sometimes, and not just because they make me cry uncontrollably as I chop into them but because they can make your recipe fail really quickly if you’re not attentive while cooking.
Make sure while you’re sautéing your onions that you also continue to stir and add fat as needed. They can brown and burn really easily if they stay in one spot or if there isn’t enough fat is your cooking vessel.
What is a better pair than onion and garlic together? Think of it, I’ll be waiting.
Garlic is also one of the many staples I use on a daily basis, however I absolutely hate chopping garlic because my hands smell like it forever (ew). Regardless of the smell, the flavour that garlic adds to your savoury dishes is literal perfection.
I use garlic in two different forms: powdered, or fresh. You can also opt for the already minced garlic sold at your local grocery store as it will save you time and save you from tainting your fingertips. For me, I prefer to use garlic powder regardless if the recipe calls for fresh garlic.
I like to add the garlic after my onions start to transition from opaque to translucent. When you add the garlic ensure that your stove top is on low heat and that you keep moving it around in your pot or pan to avoid burning.
If you want to use garlic powder instead, once you are nearly satisfied with how soft you want your cooked onions, you can add the garlic powder to help overlap some flavour onto the onions.
Just remember to keep stirring!
3. Cayenne Pepper
I personally love using cayenne pepper, however it is packed with a lot of heat that might punch your taste buds and might make you reach for that jug of milk you have laying in your fridge instead. If you detest anything spicy or that has a very mild spice level, I suggest you avoid this ingredient.
But that doesn’t mean disregard this ingredient completely! Cayenne pepper adds a lot of kick and flavour and luckily paprika is a mild alternative so that you don’t miss out on the type of flavour that cayenne pepper can bring to your tastebuds.
I love adding cayenne pepper to all of my dishes because I love spice and it’s also superfood! Peppers including cayenne have a compound called capsaicin which provides our bodies with health benefits that can help protect our bodies during the pandemic and shed some quarantine weight while at it. It’s also relatively easy to add into your daily meals.
I prefer to use cayenne pepper in its fresh form, but powdered form is very convenient to have as it is easier to add into dishes and adjust your spice level accordingly. You also save yourself from improperly cutting peppers and entering the pits of hell if you accidentally touch your face.
The longer you cook fresh peppers, more heat will be extracted which can make your meal more bitter or spicy. Whether I’m using either fresh or powdered cayenne pepper, it is one of the last ingredients that I add to my meals. This way you can adjust the spice level accordingly.
Personally, I love drinking a cup of broth. It’s my favourite comfort snack when I’m feeling blue, or sick. The warmth of the liquid embraces my mouth as I savour every last sip I take and will probably help soothe that sore throat that I will probably experience during flu season.
Although it’s my comfort food, broth is also my holy grail cooking ingredient. I don’t add it to every meal, but when I’m lacking flavour you bet I will kick taste buds, or at least try to. If you are making you’re making bone broth from scratch, it’s very beneficial to your skin. There’s loads of collagen in there which I like to call the fountain of youth. By consuming collagen, you can rebuild your bones, connective tissues and increase the elasticity of your skin making you look more youthful.
If you aren’t making your own bone broth, or are a vegan/vegetarian, that’s no problem. You can make your own vegetable broth or buy powdered vegetable broth or buy vegetable stock at your local grocery store. You can also opt for this option if you’re too lazy to make your own bone broth.
When I’m cooking my grains, such as rice, couscous or quinoa I like to toast them uncooked first with a bit of fat and onions. You can skip this step and just go straight to adding the broth to your pot or rice cooker. Once finished, you will have a flavourful side to pair perfectly with your meal.
. . .
And there you have it! With the “second-wave” approaching, it’s important that we try to stay indoors as much as possible and eat foods that are beneficial to our bodies.
We never know what will happen, so being your own chef is best practice in protecting yourself. The greatest thing about being your own chef is that you can add and disregard any type of ingredients that you like or don’t like which can cater to your own taste buds.
By using these four ingredients it can turn your meals from “meh” to you helping yourself to seconds and thirds without spending more money than necessary.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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