This is part 2 to my City Guide to Cheap, Healthy Eating.
Eliminate your obstacles to reach your goals
There’s that saying.
My obstacles were:
- I took too long to cook
- I didn’t know how to buy enough groceries for the week
- I don’t know how to cook many things
List your obstacles too. Here’s what I did to solve them:
Taking too long to cook
I read a book called How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food. I learned from his meat recipes to grasp how he prepares. I don’t follow exactly his list of ingredients but his lists are often short anyways! which is nice. I found the beginning chapters to be the most useful: from Kitchen Notes to The Fast Kitchen.
- One-pot noodles and vegetables. If you have the water boiling, just put everything together!
- Eggs to the rescue, if you feel uninspired
- Always have “necessities” on hand, under the Fast Ingredients section. For example, I always have olive oil, onions, ginger, and garlic on the counter. But I found I only use olive oil and onions. The garlic is sprouting roots.
- Clean as you go
The book focuses on speed. He rewrote complicated recipes into a way that you prep food while waiting for heat. Another recipe book in this style is The Pasta Book (Williams-Sonoma).
I also tried a few recipes from One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More but only under the Skillet and Sauté Pan chapter.
After one month, I was pretty efficient. Experience and practise taught me more than words.
How to buy enough groceries
I followed online bloggers’ weekly groceries. I seriously Googled “weekly grocery list” to see what others say. The one I love most is from this blogger.
I tweaked it every time to test if something would work (or not work) for me. But my list became quite solid and I was confident in navigating the grocery store after 8 trips.
Don’t know how to cook
The recipe books above helped a lot. I tend to buy sale items and figure out how to cook after. This forces me to try new things. Roast beef is delicious and super easy! Who knew.
I try to cook something new without seasonings or spices first. Just to know how it tastes without anything extra. Usually plain cooking is perfectly fine, and the least daunting. It saves a lot of time. I don’t have to worry about adding tastes or blending flavours, just cook the food on its own.
Steaming vegetables is easiest. Pasta is easy after my first 8 attempts. Fish is super easy and fast!
I made tomato sauce but that was an insane amount of work. And a lot of tomatoes used. I have to remove the seeds? Are you kidding.
Chicken and turkey took about 4 months before I could perfect its moisture in the oven. I still find pork hard to cook… I don’t make pork or lamb anymore.
It took about 3 months to comfortably do guess work. For example, how much spaghetti for two meals? How long for the onions? How long to cook chicken? I wasted lot of chicken.
A kitchen timer and a thermometer helped in learning to cook. I don’t depend on them anymore, but I still use them.
I spend about $50 per week on groceries! I’ll talk about this in the next post.