Buy New Equipment
I've tried this whole cooking thing before and the main reason it didn't work is that it's really hard to make quality food when you don't have a lot of the necessary tools and the ones you do have barely work. This time around, there'll be new utensils, a crock pot, blender, new pots/pans, and even a new stove.
Do a Pantry Overhaul
I hate throwing things out, but I think it really helps to just start with a mostly empty canvas when working toward a new goal. If you have non-perishable foods, I'd recommend finding a soup kitchen or charity organization where you can donate them, and maybe give the rest of the food away to a close friend or family member, or you could just let it run out naturally and don't replace it. The pantry I'm working with used to be 90% snacks and junk. We cleaned it off and just designated one of the five shelves for snack foods. The rest is mainly baking supplies, spices, rice, pasta, and essential ingredients like olive oil.
The hard part, I think, is actually getting started. I'm currently in the process of looking through recipes and finding ones that are challenging but don't make my head spin. It's really easy to look through pinterest and find a million recipes I want to try "one day," but if I can't make a simple chicken pasta dish then those are really just a distant dream. Another thing I'm trying really hard to do is not cut corners. I'm not at totally inept at this as I'm making myself sound in this post - I have cooked before. It's just that I usually take the easiest way out. I'm always trying to convince myself that the main course just needs to be cooked but it doesn't matter HOW that happens. I think it's time now to learn to cook things the right way.
This is another one I've struggled with in the past. I'm a natural planner, but for some reason I just can't stick with a meal plan. I think my problem is that I sometimes wait too long to start making dinner, so by that time whatever I had planned either takes too long or isn't what I'm really craving at the moment (pizza). So I think I have to start the whole process earlier, and also leave myself a little flexibility. I plan to pick out my meals for the week, but not be super strict on which meals go for which days. That way I can have a little freedom to eat what I want.
Everything in Moderation
Just because I'm taking on this project does not mean I'm totally giving up pizza and chicken wings. If that was the plan, I know I'd fail. You can't just totally give up things that make you happy, and sometimes pizza is just the only thing that falls into your schedule and budget. So just make a rule (once a week, once a month, whatever you think you can handle). And stick to it.
Basically everything in this process is intimidating, but I just have to convince myself to try it. The worst that can happen is that it's gross and then I have to go get pizza. Oh no.
Anyone else have tips I (or other readers) should follow?? I'd love to get a discussion going in the comments.
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