Domestic Dilemma: Why I Hate Food

I am not a natural cook.

so delicious!!

This shouldn’t come as such a surprise to me, I suppose. I wasn’t raised in a household that cooked often; while we always had great party food and put together a good spread on special occasions, the memories that stand out the most are those of microwaved bags of frozen veggies; a fridge containing nothing but milk, applesauce, a few gallons of distilled water, and a “Bag O’ Salad”; my elation when I learned how to make my own mac ‘n’ cheese; and my belief that chicken only existed as a white, dry chicken breast that hopefully wouldn’t take too many chews to go down. (Imagine my delight when I discovered chicken thighs existed in my later college days, and that “dark meat” wasn’t just a Thanksgiving delicacy.)

College students aren’t known for their culinary skills, but I always wanted to obtain them somehow. Especially as I moved away from the college crowd and essentially turned into a pseudo-adult who was still taking college classes (this was accomplished by living in a house with older friends, spending time with older friends, working two jobs, commuting 45 miles to school, and not getting shitfaced on disgustingly cheap liquor at every possible opportunity), I felt that it was time to enhance my attempts at adulthood by learning how to cook for myself and my house-family. I was also too broke to continue keeping Jimmy John’s on speed dial.

Cooking’s pretty simple, right? There’s a recipe, and you follow it. I’m even lucky enough to have most of the basic equipment in the house already, thanks to not living alone. (Hint to my fellow pseudo-adults: “Basic equipment” means more than just having a fridge and a microwave.)

Okay, but what do I want to make, though? I’m a simple person, and Rogue Leader is the same. I like apples and peanut butter. Caesar salads. Cheese and sausage. Sandwiches (or the paleo version, which replaces the bread with a lettuce wrap!). When we went to Crimblade and Okibrownie’s for dinner, his grilled beef and veggie skewers blew us away. We knew food could be that delicious and incredible, but not that it was possible for real people like us to make it that way.

I could live off of this.

Over the past several months, I have been attempting to become known for more than just my cornbread muffins — which until recently were my sole culinary triumph. (I have now added simple sauteed green beans to that list for a grand total of two things I can cook that other people want to eat. Sadly, neither constitutes a meal.) But while I can handle breakfast (greek yogurt, a fried egg, or maybe a banana) and lunch (sandwiches and fruit for the win), I have no idea what people eat for dinner.

I’ve made several pretty tasty meals in the past few months, actually. But while I highly enjoyed the (usually) successful endeavors, none of them stuck. “Wait, we have to eat dinner again tonight? Didn’t we just do that yesterday?”

Honestly, though, the worst part of this entire process is the actual procuring of food. I loathe grocery shopping. It’s a constant reminder of how much effort it takes me to figure out a whole week’s worth of healthy dinners that I can still somehow afford — and then when I finally find everything I need, pay more than I wanted to at the checkout line, and get it all home — I still have to turn it into meals.

I keep trying, but we’ve been home from vacation for a week and still have nothing but good beer, a greek yogurt, and eggs in our half of the fridge. Maybe it’s time for me to stop trying to be a domestic goddess and just figure out how to feed myself first.

Any suggestions?

119 thoughts on “Domestic Dilemma: Why I Hate Food

  1. You know, one of my favorite quick and easy dinners isn’t that much harder to make than breakfast crossed with boxed macaroni and cheese! Cook up some pasta. While it’s boiling, saute some minced garlic and dried herbs in olive oil (basil, oregano, crushed red pepper… or even the pre-mixed Italian seasoning). Add some sliced veggies if you have them — I like mushrooms and onions — and cook until softened. At the very end, add arugala or baby spinach, remove from heat, and cover to wilt. Dump into a serving bowl, then use the same pan to cook an over easy egg for each person. Mix your pasta and veggies, mound on the plate, top with an egg and freshly grated parmesan. Break the yolk and mix it around, then dig in!

  2. Here’s how to make the skewers:
    Choose your meat, beef(steak), chicken, or shrimp.
    Cut the chicken/beef up into smaller chunks
    Pick your marinade, I cheat and use the packets, I’m the crazy person in the grocery store adding all the ingredients now and bemoaning the high sodium content. When I take the time to find some good marinade recipes I’ll share.
    Marinade the meat if it’s beef or chicken I like to have it marinade over night, but that isn’t always possible so go for at least 30 minutes. Also withhold about half a cup of marinade to baste with latter. If your making shrimp don’t marinade more than 20~30 minutes, the acidic nature of the marinade causes it to bad after that.
    While marinating cut up the veggies, my favs are red&green peppers, pineapples, bacon and onions. I’ll add mushrooms occasionally for okiebrownie.
    I almost forgot if you’re using wooden skewers start soaking them ASAP.
    Now comes the fun part!
    Skewer everything!
    Now you just have to grill the puppies up and you’re ready to nom.

    • Crimblade, I love you. Your culinary creativity and crossfitting prowess more than makes up for your (at times) questionable internet grammar. To balance out that last remark, I promise that I will not complain once at crossfit tonight, or you may throw weight plates at my head (or come up with something equally creative). We’re going to make me a positive person yet! :P

  3. I can relate. I love to cook, but I hate to come up with ideas for cooking. I hear that’s what Pinterest is for, but sadly, my busy life precludes the addition of yet another social media outlet!

    My boyfriend and I usually end up eating out — or snacking for dinner. We’ll have smoked salmon on crackers and apple slices…that’s a meal for us. But when my kids are home, that won’t suffice. So it’s back to the old standbys: broiled salmon, grilled chicken and pasta are the usual suspects.

    Clearly, I actually do need Pinterest in my life! ;)

    • I’m with you, Mikalee! I joined Pinterest because of my friend “Casama,” an absolute domestic goddess in the kitchen, who posts all sorts of delicious recipes. She’s still trying to teach me to love grocery shopping, but the credit for my sauteed green beans goes to her :)

      I’ve never tried making salmon, but I think I need to in the near future!

  4. Check out Real Simple’s website! They have a huge recipe collection that you can search by ingredient, health level, meal type, etc. Their recipes are 90% of what I cook when I’m actually “cooking” and not just making spaghetti. Good luck!

  5. I like getting “bulk” recipes. These make large amounts of food that you can them freeze and keep for months. Having a deploying husband and two children with sensory issues involving food this makes it easier on me to make dinner for just me. Make a large batch on Sunday and thaw throughout the week. Or make several dishes at once and eat for two weeks!

      • I have a grocery store recipe book. It has a whole section dedicated to freezable recipes. As well as, dinner for ones, deserts, breakfasts, all kinds of stuff. It was a guide for “75 meals under $10″ I think. I’ve had it a while. They usually keep them near the register at grocery stores, and major retailers like Target or Walmart :D

        Plus they make great recipes to give to people who have just had a baby or a recent death in the family. Simple for them to make and you can take it in one of those aluminum pans and you don’t have to worry about your stuff.

  6. You go get the groceries, carry them in, put them away, and after all that you still have to make something to eat for dinner! I get that!!! And then you have to do it again! Also do you ever notice that you can go do a big shop, get a bunch of things you’ve run out of, but when you get home you’re not sure what there actually is to make for dinner?
    Really enjoyed your blog.

  7. Loved your post. I think I’m erring on the other side: too much cooking and the accompanying things I hate–dish washing, cleaning, grocery shopping. It’s hard to maintain a balance between cooking too little and cooking too much. I know the feeling you talked about exactly–didn’t we just cook yesterday? Ironically, the better you start cooking, the faster the food tends to get over.

    • That’s what my culinary-inclined friends tell me — I’m going to have to just keep trying. I did notice that with the green beans, I don’t even have to think about it anymore! I just need to get comfortable with some more recipes. :)

  8. I can sympathize. It was a shock for me–someone who lived on pasta and stir-fry–to marry a man who expected a variety of dinners each week. We often have black bean and rice burritos, fried rice with vegetables, pasta with tomatoes, and grilled vegetable skewers. It’s easy to keep the ingredients on hand, all of those are fairly quick to make, and they allow for experimentation with spices and new flavors when trying out variations. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the advice! I’m so wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to experimenting with spices — I really need to dive in and start trying, because I love food from all over the world (Afghani, Indian, and Chinese being the top 3) but I’m scared of trying them at home :) I’m currently hunting for a grill so I can start making skewers, though!

  9. I have been a student in the UK for four years and I have lived with people whose culinary abilities are worse than yours! I tried to make it my mission to teach people to cook, however, some are quite happy living off baked beans, and cereal!

    My recommendations to you would be chilli con carne, simple, delicious and you can make a massive pot and freeze half of it for another day! Pasta carbonara is another favourite, although you Americans bastardise it with cream, I make it with just the eggs, bacon, pasta, cheese and black pepper, delicious! Curries are also good and the same applies as with chilli, eat half, freeze half! Soups go a long way too!

    Good luck and happy cooking from England :-)

  10. Hi! I’m Spunknanigan and I’m going to write you a book!!! =0D

    I’ve only recently become “domestic”. I’ve found it’s actually WAY cheaper to buy food and make it than to order out. (Who knew?) Last week, I made every recipe I could think of that involved chicken. (We had a lot of “fried” chicken, because that was the easiest. Plus, I’m getting better at the whole cook time/proper oil temperature thing.) This week, it’s ground beef. I made a list of stuff I’d LIKE to eat, then bought the ingredients. Egg Rolls, Hamburgers, Meatloaf, Spaghetti. Then I threw in a couple easy meals for those days when I had no energy or limited time. (Frozen popcorn shrimp, frozen fries, frozen salmon patties, and side veggies in a can.) I’m still eating cereal for breakfast and Ramen noodles for lunch, but dinners have been GOOD. =0)

    I go REALLY simple on ingredients, too. Seasoned salt is my friend! McCormack has several really good (simple) seasonings. The Barbeque and Spicy Montreal Steak flavors are now officially STAPLES in my kitchen. Put them on some chicken, beef, or fish, bake/broil/pan fry and you’re good to go.

    Since it’s my favorite and one of the few recipes I really love, Here’s my “Teryaki Egg Roll” Recipe. It only has four ingredients. Five if you count the rice to go with it. =0)

    Ingredients: La Choy Teryaki, 1 to 2 lbs ground beef (depending on how many egg rolls you plan to make, or people you are feeding…) canned bean sprouts, my husbands veg of choice for egg rolls, and some egg roll wrappers. (Usually found *inexplicably* in the produce section. Yeah, that’s weird to me.)

    I hate to get all technical, but I put the meat and teryaki in a pan and cook it “’til it’s done” and season it “to taste”. =0) I cook the meat first so it’s not underdone. After those two ingredients have cooked, I drain the meat in a drainer/strainer in the sink to remove the fat. (Don’t rinse off the flavor, though.) Then I put it back on the stove. I add (drained) bean sprouts, more teryaki, and just let it soak up the flavors on low heat for a few minutes. I get a wrapping station set up with a space to wrap, a plate for finished wrapped egg rolls, and a small dish of milk*. I put one to two tablespoons of filling onto each wrapper.

    Tips about the wrappers: I just use them straight from the fridge. There is something that says to use a damp towel… NO. That will make them doughy and unmanageable. Just use them dry. To make them stick closed, I pour out a small dish of milk* and just rub it on the corners to make it stick together. (If your wrapper is not closed, when you go to fry the egg rolls, they will splatter and possibly burn you. Not good.)

    It’s time-consuming folding them all up, but it’s SO worth it. If you have a deep fryer, use it. It’s SO much easier than a pan. If you don’t, go to the store and buy one. (I am REALLY bad at figuring when oil is going to cook, but not burn the crap out of everything… and once it’s burnt, it’s ruined, b/c the taste will permeate everything.) If you don’t suck at it, like me, get a pan of oil and do them that way. Since the filling is cooked, you are only browning and crisping the outside. Once one side is done, move onto the next. For rice, I use a rice cooker (one of those BRILLIANT “set it and forget it” machines.) It comes out the same every time, unlike the glue or hard rice I make on the stove. =0/

    Anyway, that’s my book. Good luck in your culinary endeavors, and if you DO try out my egg rolls, let me know how they came out! =0)

          • I waited until I was 26 to even start trying. I had my daughter, Lily, when I was two weeks shy of 30. Don’t let anyone rush you. Do it in your time. I wanted a house, a partner (my wonderful husband,) a steady income, and the maturity that only came with time and experience. Do what’s right for you. I’m glad I waited. I didn’t know how perfect she would be, if I had, I would have started trying earlier. But it wouldn’t have been the right time. =0) You’ve got to do what’s right for you. =0)

  11. The best advice I can offer is to buy (or borrow from the library) a few great cookbooks and read them carefully until you find 10 recipes you love. Then when you grocery shop, if you have actually chosen 3 or 4 recipes for that week, you are now buying specific ingredients with which to create those meals — not just random stuff you don’t know what to do with. One of my favorites (it’s old, is the Vegetarian Epicure Part II; I’ve been making their carrot-yogurt soup and tomato-leek quiche for decades.)

    It is also helpful to have a few basic tools, like a good blender, some sharp knives and good-quality fresh ingredients. Keep “staples” in your home, whether chicken breasts, olive oil, parmesan, eggs…and you’ll akways have the basics of a heathy meal. I hate buying food, too, but I do love cooking and making a great meal. Once you get a few fab recipes down, it won’t feel as intimidating.

  12. Liked this post! I know what you mean – sometimes the grocery shop can be such a drag, even if (like me!) you love cooking. But there are ways to make it fun – split up and race around the store, or race yourself to see if you can go faster than the day before…. Maybe I overthink it, but sometimes if I am really not into it these are some tools I use to make it go a bit better!

    As for food, maybe you’d enjoy some of the recipes on our blog – I see above in one of the replies to a comment you mentioned you are off pasta, so perhaps you could try out these super easy and delish burritos: http://foldedcranes.com/2012/06/17/chickpea-burritos/ or maybe our yummy couscous: http://foldedcranes.com/2012/05/28/cooking-with-what-youve-got-couscous-and-balsamic-vegetables/ both super easy and rewarding when you actually come to eat it, so they might suit you well! Let me know what you think…

    As

    • Thanks for the tip! Paleo or Primal eating looks for a pretty natural approach, eliminating agricultural-based foods that our cavemen ancestors would not have eaten. Steve Kamb at NerdFitness.com does a great job of explaining it here. Technically, this even rules out peanut butter along with things like wheat and rice, but fortunately, my goal is to simply introduce the concept into my daily diet — so I’ll definitely try out your suggestions soon! Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! :)

  13. Ha ha, you sound exactly like me. Fortunately, I’m fine with apples and peanut butter and don’t plan to change any time soon. I’d rather spend my time on other things! Good luck to you though.

    • Good for you — if it works for you, own it! I think apples and peanut butter are going to stay part of my standard lunch, but I’m not ready to decide the fate of my dinners yet. We’ll see how it goes :)

  14. Lasagna is extremely simple to make. For a paleo version, instead of layering lasagna noodles, cut zucchini or any other kind of squash lengthwise into long strips about 1/4″ or more thick. Get a big, long pan. Cook up some chopped meat (hamburger, fresh sausage with the skin off, whatever you like). Make sure you keep breaking it into smaller pieces. Spread spaghetti sauce over the bottom of the pan, then layer in the squash strips followed by chopped raw vegetables (mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, kale, whatever you want), meat, sauce, squash strips, etc., until you’ve filled the pan. Traditional lasagna uses ricotta cheese (usually with parmesan and mozzarella mixed in), but you don’t have to. Use Italian seasoning in your sauce, or else fresh oregano, basil, and garlic. Cook in the over for about half an hour at 375 and that should do it.

    Good luck!

  15. I can certainly identify with you in the department of not wanting cooking/food preparation to take up too much of my life. But, the more I found it was something necessary to do (“Wait, we have to eat dinner again tonight? Didn’t we just do that yesterday?”) and something that really was a very practical blessing–an expression of love–to my family, I began to ask God to give me a DESIRE to serve others in this way. I am amazed at how He’s since been enabling me not only to commit myself to doing the work, but to also enjoy it and look forward to it. Preparing food and serving can actually be quite a joy! :)

  16. I hear you. I’m in the same boat. I only go to the grocery store when the cupboard are absolutely bare. Anything grab-and-go goes first.

    My most recent easy-as-a-grilled-sandwich meal is quesadillas:
    + store-bought tortillas (fresh from a bakery, if possible)
    + shredded cheese (that four-cheese Mexican mix is good…)
    + pre-cooked shredded chicken (mix in a packet of taco seasoning for more flavor)
    + mix of frozen onions and red, green, and yellow bell peppers (When I get it home, I throw it in the fridge to thaw.)

    Heat up a non-stick frying pan to a bit under medium (you want to melt the cheese before the tortillas go crispy). Throw on a tortilla, layer in ingredients in whatever ratio you prefer, top with another tortilla. Let the cheese melt to hold everything together, then flip it a few times until both sides are toasted. All done!

    I love this because I can sit and read or check email or something while it’s “cooking” – because it cooks slow over relatively low heat, there’s decent tolerance for distraction.

    I’ve also found that I’m much more willing to spend time on a meal on the weekend, so I’ll make a pot of something (say, spaghetti or chili or a casserole) on Sunday, and then eat off that all week.

    • I LOVE quesadillas, and that sounds totally doable — even for me! (And I’m with you on the shredded cheese mix; that’s the one we get at my house!) Sunday bulk cooking is definitely something I need to add into my weekend routine. Thanks for the advice! I’ll let you know how my quesadillas turn out :)

  17. Haha – I feel like once you get into the habit, coming up with options for dinner (and actually going to the store and throwing everything together) is easy! Just remember to keep it simple. If you need some ideas, check out my blog – easy AND healthy! Doesn’t get much better than that…good luck!

  18. I hear your dilemma! I have a an entire blog devoted to me (vegetarian) and my husband (omnivore) learning how to feed ourselves. I try to keep it simple, healthy and tasty, though sometimes it gets skewed a little toward taste. It is an adventure and we’ve gone from all meals in restaurants plus some occasional from the box stuff or grilled cheese to full-blown gardeners, trollers of the farmer’s market, meat smokers, beer brewers and makers of fresh pasta and cheese. Sometimes we eat Kraft Dinner, and I love that. I try to inspire my readers, stop by some time :)

    • That sounds like a great journey! I’m definitely interested in gardening (and need to find a farmer’s market in my area!) and will absolutely check out your blog. My friends and I have been investigating a more “paleo” eating lifestyle, and while healthier, it definitely takes some more thought initially when planning meals. :)

  19. Sounds like you should go for a baked beans I toast diet, make it exciting by occasionally throwing some cheese in there. It’s a thought at least.

    • (Un)fortunately, healthy eating’s a requirement too — though my awesome cornbread muffins and some baked beans have got to be one of my favorite indulgences from time to time. :)

  20. Thanks for the excellent post! I suggest you read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – that should get you excited about food in general. The rest will come naturally. Oh, for more inspiration, you may want to take a peek at my blog – I talk about home cooking just a bit…cheers!

    • Thanks! As I continue to investigate the Paleo approach to eating, I’m finding more and more recommendations to read his book. I will definitely pick it up — and drop by your blog! — for more inspiration. :)

      • Any of Michael Pollan’s food books are excellent, as is anything written by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms – I believe you will be very pleased with the knowledge gained from reading their stuff! Enjoy!

  21. It is so interesting because for me the grocery store is my place of zen. I love it like most women love clothing shopping. There are so many easy recipes that can make you look like a champ. I find the easiest thing to do is get staples that can be used in many many recipes. It gives you a jumping off point, a place to build from. Basic spices and baking needs. If you do that, each time you need to go shopping you will need to buy less and less because you have the basics already at home!

    • See, I don’t like clothes shopping, either. Too many people, and choices! I think if I find a great farmer’s market or a smaller store than your average Target or Pick ‘n’ Save, that might help me feel more comfortable. :)

        • I have yet to go to a Trader Joe’s, but one is opening up right down the street! I’m worried it will be out of my budget, but I’ll definitely be checking it out as soon as the doors open. :)

          • Actually, Trader Joes is very reasonable. There are things that are pricey, but you can find good stuff for a reasonable cost. I find the produce especially is a good deal. You usually will buy a bag of something, which can add to having a base to work from in your kitchen. If you buy a bag of potatoes at a good price you can find new and different ways to incorporate them into different meals :) Saves money and you learn how to do lots of different stuff!

  22. 28 likes and 55 comments – thats just wrong – it was a good post. Worked out (when we had no money) that the raw materials were cheaper than the packaged meals.
    Pick your food groups and stick to them. You will get good at them, but stick to them. Diet can go way off course when we just eat what we are good at cooking.
    Buy great fresh produce – work at getting the best. What tastes nice to begin with is easier to turn into a decent meal. Learn to boil, then roast. Everyones speed at learning is different.Could be months/years and the learning is never ove, it just gets better. Ease slowly into herbs and spices – learn their tastes and what they can do for food. Timing all the different parts of the meal to finish together is tricky, I still mess up there sometimes.
    And lastly, if you want to buy time in the kitchen from people in the living/dining room, fry an onion. The smell is one of good cooking. Remember not to burn it.

    • Wrong as in too high, or too low? :) I’m used to a reader base of about 4.6 people, so this is pretty thrilling for me! (Also, I’m responding to as much as I can, so I believe I’ve skewed the comments count considerably.)

      Thanks for the reassurance; I’m slow at picking up things like this. Timing is definitely something I find difficult to coordinate! My roommates and I love onions, though — great idea! Thanks for reading. :)

  23. Believe me, I know your pain and I was much like you until I met my husband. He’s a chef and he’s been trying to teach me fun and easy recipes that are healthy as well. I’ve learned that the broiler is your best friend. You don’t even need to marinade anything for long. Just get tons of chicken, tons of turkey meat, veggies and brown rice from the grocery store; this will last you all week. Most grocery stores have blended herbs and spices so just pick some up when they’re on special (2 for the price of 1 etc). McCormicks has some pre-mixed seasoning in all sorts of flavors. Minced garlic, ginger and cilantro pastes are must-haves from the organic department. Depending on how much you use these, they can last you anywhere from 3-4 weeks or even longer. Sauteed veggies, boiled brown rice with some herbs, and broiled meat, makes for a simple and healthy meal. If you mix and match the flavors, you can have great, healthy meals while staying in your budget all month long. We have a great website with some ideas if you’d like to check out the “Featured Healthy Eats” section at http://www.amazing4letterfword.com. Good luck and may the force be with you :)

  24. Noticed you’re trying the paleo diet. I can honestly say that paleo is awesome. Really you don’t miss sweets if you keep a variety of fruit around. I make a lot of mexi salads using chicken and I use salsa as the dressing on a bed of spinach and lettuce. Good luck!!

    • Thanks for the encouragement! After the initial shock of the first few days, it really is quite simple, and I don’t miss pasta or most breads at all now that it’s been a few months. I had a tough time sticking to it while on a 2 week road trip/vacation, though, so now that I finally went grocery shopping last night, I can start getting back into it. :)

      • I would definitely miss sweets. But I really do wish you luck with the paleo diet!

        My family was fairly poor when I was growing up, so we usually had frozen dinners or something from a can for dinner. Cream of chicken soup on toast was a “meal”. I can tell you from experience that once you DO learn more about cooking and the amazing foods that are out there, not even the looming thought of grocery shopping will stop you.

        • Ah, good point! I’m definitely hoping that the more comfortable I get with the entire cooking process, the more enjoyable food shopping will become. (And just between you and me… I’ll never give up ice cream! You gotta live a little, too ;) )

  25. One-pot meals (or slow-cooker meals) are my go-to dinners most evenings. There are lots of recipes on blogs and recipe websites. Pick a meat, vegetable, and grain, a few spices. Put it all together and cook (and there’s minimal clean up).

  26. LOl your comments bring back memories or maybe nightmares of those days of KFC leftovers being the highlight of the weeks menu. Thankfully I found the one small appliance that changed, my diet a slow cooker. Best part I bought one large enough, I had real left overs for a few days. Followed that up with a wok, and before you knew it, I can cook.

  27. Get a crock pot. Throw some unspecified meat into it with veggies, stock, and some spices, turn it on, walk away for four hours. Come back — boom. Meal. With leftovers.

  28. Casserole! Crockpot! Google searching! Seriously though, usually casseroles just involve cutting stuff up, putting it in a pan and baking it. And bonus, leftover night for the next dinner! Same process with most crockpot recipes. Cut, dump, stir, cook. Eat for three days.

    I also hate cooking. And my husband comes from a family of good female cooks. Damn.

    • Ah, tough luck :) I just started experimenting with crockpots recently, and for the most part it turned out very well! Doesn’t help motivate me to go to the store, though, but at least the cooking part’s easier, right? :)

  29. I heavily rely on spices for my cooking. It is amazing how you can end up with very different results by changing a spice of two and small variations in the cooking method. I have a ton of cookbooks yet I don’t really follow many of the recipes, what I do is look at the various ingredient combinations and techniques and make up my own dishes, When you and Rogue Leader come visit in August I’ll run you a small cooking boot camp.

  30. Tried soups and Bread? Soups are really easy to make and you can always buy breads (any flavour that you want which can compliment the soup). This combo is healthy and filling. I write about food as well. I cook traditional Indian food but am a fan of Mexican and Italian cuisines. It is fun to cook quick foods. You can follow my blogs here: nellymirchi.wordpress.com. Here are a few links that will guide you to make soups:
    http://www.101cookbooks.com/soups/
    http://www.delish.com/recipes/recipe-substitutions/make-it-fake-it-soup-recipes
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/50-soups/index.html
    http://allrecipes.com/recipes/soups-stews-and-chili/

    All the best. Hope it helps.

  31. i love grocery shopping, just not grocery carrying! and my boyfriend hates the ordeal of going shopping, so we found a median: online grocery shopping!
    i quite like it, because you can see the total price as you’re shopping, and not at the end when the cashier is expectantly waiting to rob you of all your money. so if you’re over spending you can easily delete things that aren’t necessary.
    you can also shop while planning the week’s food! instead of writing up a list you just look at the recipes and add whatever you don’t already have to your basket. saves time and energy for more important endeavors :)
    i know it sounds a bit lazy, but it really does mean we’re more likely to have a stocked fridge and not just live off takeout!

  32. Either your a `recipe following shopper` or your not. Recipe following shopping doesn`t appeal to me. Sometimes there is a whole host of ingredients that you have to think of and they can tot up to be somewhat expensive. For those of us who have to live on a budget, recipe folowing shopping is not an option. A tip I find is: Rice, potatoes, pasta are all so versatile and can be the basis of most recipes. Then scan the shelves in the supermarket to determine how and what might accompany and compliment these basics.
    BTW. I`m talking to fellow vegetarians here, right?

    • I’m still learning how to look at what I have in the house and turn it into a meal, but I agree with keeping the basics on hand! I suspect practice makes perfect with that one. :)

      I can’t speak for the others, but I am not a vegetarian. For the past few months I’ve been transitioning into a more Paleo based eating lifestyle, which some call the “caveman diet.” It attempts to rule out processed foods and relies instead upon what our bodies have evolved to eat — things that our hunter-gatherer predecessors would have had, such as lean meats, lots of veggies, and nuts and berries (unfortunately, this rules out the rice, potatoes, and pasta you suggested). I’m no expert, but my favorite blogger over at Nerd Fitness does a great job explaining it if you’re interested in more detail: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2010/10/04/the-beginners-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/

      Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

  33. A good think to have is bone in chicken breasts. You can throw them in a crock pot with some cans of Cambell’s Cream of whatever soup and let it sit on low all day and come home to fall off the bone chicken soup. I season mine with some rosemary and thyme and call it a day. A block of velveeta is a good thing too since you can make grilled cheese, mack and cheese, cheese fries, brocolli and cheese or whatever with it! Also, buy meats in bulk, it tends to be cheaper, and freeze them. They won’t go bad and as along as you pull something out that morning or the day before if you are doing it in the crock pot, you are good to go. Better yet, then you are like, I have to make this or it goes bad and that is a waste of money.

  34. i like making fried rice when i’m feeling lazy. it’s an easy one-dish meal that i can whip up in less than 30 minutes. have some leftover rice? maybe some eggs, onions, or scallions? scramble and set aside the egg, then sautee the onion, with rice. finally, add the egg, blend well and season with salt and pepper to taste. have some chopped scallions? throw it in there for color and added flavor.

  35. I like to create a menu for the week and base my grocery list off of that. As you build a repertoire of meals, stick with dishes that take a half an hour or less to make. It is still a pain in the ass but a short pain.

  36. I am probably the complete opposite of everything you just described in your post! I LOVE food and cooking. But I can somewhat relate to your upbringing. Food was never a big to-do at my house growing up. You ate what was put in front of you…and my dear mother cannot cook at all! Love her…she’s an amazing seamstress…cooking, not so much. People often ask me if I learned to cook from my mother and I politely tell them no it’s just something I’ve developed a passion for and learned on my own. So, with all that said, here are 2 links to simple dinners from my cooking blog. Look around and you may even want to impress your friends with some homemade Mango Salsa!
    http://www.SizzleCooks.com/haricot-vert-mashed-cauli-and-grilled-shrimp
    http://www.SizzleCooks.com/fresh-panzanella-salad

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  38. The best thing you can do is find a versatile base and spruce it up a different way each week! Potatoes, eggs, pizza and pasta are four things that come to mind quickly. Most recently, I’ve been working on pasta. Meat sauce, meatless sauce, alfredo sauce, all wonderful variations. Then I found this site…http://www.inspiredtaste.net/12010/avocado-pasta-recipe/
    I made it and was in heaven!!
    Quesadillas are also a great option. You can make them with and without meat as well as with any number of veggies.
    Try using stumble upon online to find new recipes. You don’t have to get a full week of food every time. Make a couple casseroles and grab your base food with a bunch of veggies, then get creative!! Also, never underestimate the power of a great veggie dinner.

  39. I don’t have any suggestions, but it is nice that you are trying. I guess I was one of the lucky ones. My mother and father know how to cook very good food that is very healthy, so I all I can say is keep at it and good job.

  40. What a great post – I can SO identify with this! I also grew up in a “non-cooking” household. We never went out to eat, but we really never ate anything except frozen meals and hamburger helper. We had lots of those dry white chicken breasts. Vegetables meant a can of peas.

    In college I did the same as you… I mostly just ate tuna sandwiches and Raman noodles. Sure I had *dreams* of cooking.. but never could actually come up with the time. And I never ever had time for grocery shopping!

    All that changed once I finished my degree and started working. Suddenly I had oodles of time! I slowly and cautiously ventured into cooking. Over the past 6 years I’ve tried out more recipes than I can even count, with a fair amount of bad dinners, but it gets better and better all the time. I just recently discovered a FANTASTIC recipe, which also goes super quick!

    Sweep Steak:
    2 to 3 pound round steak or pot roast – Place this on top of a large sheet of aluminum foil, inside a glass baking dish. sprinkle the top with a package of powdered onion soup mix. (don’t add any water) Fold the foil airtight around it, and bake at 300F for about 3-4 hours. DONE! The juices from the meat go into the soup mix, and that flavors the whole thing. You can also add in vegetables if you want to, and they will get done at the same time.

    Good luck on your cooking journey!

  41. Haha, my husband feels this exact same way! I promise that if you find really neat meals you’re excited about, it’s not so bad! Or buy a juicer and drink a veggie/fruit juice twice per day….refreshing and thoughtless :) Cheers to you and good luck!

  42. If you have a yard or even a small deck and a few large pots, you could plant a vegetable garden. They’re easy to tend and can save you a ton of money every year. It’s also surprisingly easy to put vegetables up in the freezer for the rest of the year.

    By the way, I know how you feel about cooking. Waiting for food is never fun, even if the end result is delicious.

  43. I’m going off to University in October and I’m in quite a similar situation. I can handle breakfast and lunch, but it’s cooking dinners that I’m having issues with. I’m going to be using some of the suggestions on these comments I think!

  44. My mom taught me to cook and be creative with food. I want her to write a book for college students. That cafeteria food is awful! My favorite most simple and healthy and cheap dinner is as follows.

    Red beans
    Black beans
    1 onion
    1 pepper
    Brown rice
    Avacado
    Tomato
    Corn
    Seasoning (Tony’s creole seasoning is great on everything)
    Salsa
    Chicken broth

    I cook a lot of rice and save it for other veggie stir fries through the week. I don’t do anything fancy. I just throw what I like together.

    I sautéed the onions and peppers ten I add some salsa and chicken broth, then I throw in the beans and corn

    Throw that on top of the rice with some raw tomato and avacado and Tony’s seasons and pepper. My bf and I eat this for the rest of the week. It’s awesome.

    I also make lots of soups. Cream of brocolli, tomato, pea soup, and pair it u with a grilled veggie and cheese sandwich.

    Its easy once you get in the groove. Throw on some good music and dance around. :)

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