Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at My Favorite Finds about 5 Reasons You Should Get Dressed Everyday, and I’m excited to welcome Mandi from Life…Your Way to Christian Mommy Blogger!
As I attempted to learn to cook, I spent a lot of time on the phone with my mom (long distance charges not withstanding) asking her for cooking advice as I learned how to do things as simple as frying an egg.
My initial attempts at cooking were fueled by the feeling that I should cook simply because I was a wife and mother. Over time, though, I’ve come to believe that home-cooked meals are important not just for the comfort they bring but also so that I can control the ingredients in the food my family is eating…and save money in the process.
Slowly I’ve learned to cook, little by little, with plenty of disasters along the way. In fact, while I make a lot of food from scratch these days – everything from pasta sauce to yogurt – I am scared to death of cooking red meat or fish because I just know I’ll mess up the first few times, and the cheap side of me can’t bear the thought of wasting that money.
But truly, the only way to learn to cook – and to improve your skills – is by trying, and I’d venture a guess that even the most experienced chefs sometimes make mistakes and ruin a dish!
If, like me, you consider yourself a kitchen dunce and most of your recipe repertoire consists of boxed and frozen meals, rest assured that there’s hope.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. Pick the one you like best and start there!
Use Your Crockpot
A crockpot is a valuable tool in the kitchen because it lets you start something early in the day and then walk away and come back when it’s ready to eat. If, like me, you’re juggling a million responsibilities already and you can’t imagine where you’re going to find time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking from scratch, the crockpot is the place to start. It can’t do everything, but it can do a lot!
Make Your Own Sauces & Spice Blends
For the first few years of our marriage, I managed to get by with just a few spices in my cabinet. To be honest, I couldn’t really even fathom why you would need more than what I had. Then I started cooking more from scratch, and I became enamored with all of the amazing spices out there. Paprika, cumin, oregano and more – nothing fancy, just a wide variety of smells and tastes for accenting various dishes.
I realized that one of the reasons I didn’t have many spices before is because I would buy a spice packet every time I needed to make a meat rub or fix tacos. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that making your own taco seasoning isn’t hard at all, and now I actually look forward to measuring out the various spices and seeing them come together in a flavor my family loves.
Start with the Basics
Sometimes we become so used to buying premade mixes or ready-made meals that we don’t realize how truly simple making those things from scratch can be, but I’m constantly surprised by how easy it is to replace a pantry staple with its made-from-scratch counterpart!
The key? Don’t try to do it all at one time.
If you revamp your menu plan next week and plan on 7 days of homemade-from-scratch meals when this week’s menu only included one, you will end up discouraged and ordering takeout. I know the perfectionist side of you feels like you should just decide to do it and jump in with both feet, but 9 times out of 10, that method results in failure. It’s much, much more effective to start with small incremental changes and build habits that last for a lifetime!
Mandi Ehman lives in wild, wonderful West Virginia with her husband of ten years and four beautiful, spunky little girls. As a full-time work-at-home, homeschooling mom, she runs Life Your Way and Jungle Deals & Steals and consults for a variety of websites and brands. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces!