Cooking Routine (or Adding Flavor)

I’m working really hard at cooking more at home. With my challenge for this month being no delivery food, I must have better options in my house to eat so I don’t fail at the challenge.

I think what I really struggled with in the past was the sheer number of options for foods to make. I have dozens of cookbooks (I recently gave some away so I think it might just be under 2 dozen cookbooks now) and all of them have lots of recipes that seem super delicious and I know I could probably make them. I’m a good cook and I can follow a recipe, so I don’t worry too much about not being able to make something (although I do worry about something not tasting good if I make it).

I think the other problem with a majority of the recipes in the cookbooks are the number of ingredients that a recipe requires. Maybe if I had a huge kitchen I’d keep a ton of ingredients on hand to be able to make anything with very little grocery shopping required, but that’s not my situation. My kitchen is a small but functional and I don’t have much storage or counter space. So I have to keep things limited that I store. So many of the recipes seem like I would have to fill an entire grocery cart with the ingredients just for that meal. That’s expensive, that’s a lot of stuff to store, and chances are most of it would spoil before I used it up.

So a lot of the things I’ve been making in the past have been pretty plain. I do a lot of the same veggie bowls that I made a year ago on the cleanse I did. Even though the meatloaf I make is a bit fancier, it’s still not a ton of ingredients and it’s really easy to put together. I keep lots of things that are easy to make (like turkey burgers and veggies) in my freezer so it’s not too difficult to put together a basic dinner. And I’m glad that this is a habit that I’m still sticking with.

But I’m still looking to bring more variety into my cooking because even though basic foods can be healthy, they can be boring. And I know that if I get bored with something I won’t keep eating it (that’s why I stopped making veggie bowls for so long). So I’m working on easy ways to add variety to the flavor of my foods but don’t require too much effort or shopping.

This past week I had a couple of different meals that worked out really well. Toward the beginning of the week, I made a turkey burger for dinner (which to me is perfect just plain on its own). But I knew I’d want a good side dish to go with it. I had picked up some broccoli because I figured I’d make broccoli at some point, so I figured this was as good of a time as any. I steamed the florets in the microwave and then put those into a bowl to cool a bit. Then I browned some butter in the microwave (it’s a bit messy, but the flavor is totally worth it) and after that was done added some fresh lemon juice to it. My mom does this to broccoli all the time and it’s one of my favorites. And it made a delicious and nice looking dinner that night.

Turkey Burger

Next time I’ll make more of it because I ate so much of it and I need to do some adjustments to the flavor of the sauce (I needed more lemon), but it was really good and reminded me how good healthy food is.

Then on Wednesday night after my workout I knew I needed to cook dinner. I used to hate cooking dinner on workout nights, but I’m starting to be ok with it. In the past, I might microwave a dinner or get delivery after a workout because I was tired. But honestly it’s not that much harder for me to cook (I know, everyone has been telling me this for years but I didn’t believe it) and as long as I have things in my kitchen that are easy enough to put together I can get it done really quickly.

One thing that I’m a bit obsessed with right now are smashed potatoes. I use baby potatoes and cook them for a few minutes in the microwave. Then I smash them down with a paper towel and bake them until they are super crispy. I usually use my oven to bake them in, but on Wednesday I wasn’t using my oven for anything else. So I tried making them in my toaster oven. And to add some flavoring to them, I tried this new seasoning grinder I got at Trader Joes.

Garlic Salt

While the potatoes were baking, I cooked up some chicken sausages and thankfully I timed things out pretty well because the potatoes were done pretty soon after the chicken was. While I’ve made these potatoes a lot lately, adding this new garlic salt seasoning really made a huge difference and made them so good! I’m thinking maybe I’ll try this seasoning on some chicken next week.

While I’m super happy that I’m still keeping up with cooking at home and that I’m taking more chances and finding more things I enjoy making, I’m still worried that this is a phase and I will go back to my old ways. Maybe being cautiously optimistic is better than feeling overly confident that I’ve changed and will never go back to how I was before. I really want to keep making steps toward a healthier (and cheaper) life and I know that cooking is a huge part of that. Hopefully I’m able to keep this up.

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