It’s now more manly than ever to create in the kitchen. And that’s exactly how you should approach this.
Embrace the world of cooking as creation.
You don’t have to be a Jedi Master to have an appreciation for cooking up culinary excellence every single day. But you should at least have a baseline knowledge of how things work and how to make up dishes to serve a variety of diners: whether you’re eating alone, enjoying a romantic meal with your partner or creating a feast for the whole family.
Before getting into the cooking hacks, let’s chat about the reasons why you should take up cooking:
If your family basically doesn’t eat unless your wife makes the food, then you are failing the idea of “partnership.”
A dependence on your partner as the sole provider of meals for the clan is just unacceptable. It’s always nice to take a vacation, and it’s up to you to allow your partner to do just that every once in awhile.
Dining out and eating fast food is expensive. While the occasional splurge is fine, relying on another chef (gourmet or fry) to make your meals is a drain on your wallet.
Home cooking remains undefeated for keeping you in tip-top condition. At home, you control the ingredients and portion sizes.
Your graduation from kitchen noob to culinary expert starts before you even turn on the burner. It begins with the cooking hack of all cooking hacks: preparation for the grocery store.
Set aside time each week to get an idea of the next seven days worth of eating. Plan out any or even all of your meals and determine what you’ll need from the store to make it happen.
Stumped for ideas? Millions of other wannabe Bobby Flays have done the hard work, creating billions of recipes and takes on recipes and takes on the takes of the recipes. All you have to do is log on to the web, find something you like and execute. For inspiration, check out these guys that hold it down in the kitchen:
Start small –– No need in trying to conquer veal shank osso bucco over saffron risotto if you have a hard time boiling pasta to a perfect al dente. Stick to a few recipes and learn them inside and out. Eventually, you get so comfortable in the kitchen with your handful of go-to meals that you won’t even need the instructions. Once you’ve reached a level of comfort with your easy to prep meals, graduate to some more complex dishes for special occasions, like a romantic evening with your baby mama, or for when you’re entertaining guests.
Play around with spices –– Adding some balsamic vinegar, squirting a pinch of lemon over a finished product or even adding the occasional exotic fruit or vegetable in place of the staples can really take a dish to the next level. The same rule applies here in terms of repetition. Just like learning the intricacies of the perfect jump shot in basketball, it takes practice.
Turn basic into brilliant — Enjoy making scrambled eggs? Cool. Make the best scrambled eggs in town and know how to add the best spices and add-ins to turn a simple breakfast into a brunch-worthy classic.
Consider chicken to be a palette for creation. A roasted chicken with some lemon and some fresh thyme, tossed with olive oil and thrown in a roasting pan with red potatoes is a dinner for an entire family in about an hour of time. Add different vegetables, side dishes and seasonings to make it something unique.
One of the most successful keys to pulling off a consistently healthy and incredibly tasty meal is to stick with some basic cuisines and mind the big four factors of your dish: Proteins, Carbs, Vegetables and Fats.
Every time you dine, if you focus on a decent inclusion for all of these pillars, you are doing a great job.
When shopping, keep in mind that fresh foods like fruits and vegetables win the day. Look to leaner cuts of meat for the protein sources. In simple sound byte form: Don’t eat pre-produced meals and sides.
A way to really kick this into another gear of mindful and healthful eating would be to stick to slimmer options for the majority of your dining. Think close to 80-percent of all your meals being focused on lean proteins and lots of vegetables with a good dose of starchy carbs and some fats.
This will help reduce the bottom line on your waistline.
For more of Pete’s tips for living a healthier and more focused life, check out his piece detailing the Five Core Values that will change your life for the better.