My husband and I have tons of cookbooks. But whenever we sit down to try to decide on supper and browse them I get overwhelmed. There is usually an ingredient or two that we don’t have. I just don’t have the confidence to leave it out or substitute. So for the last few months some common meals that we have circulated through have been hamburgers, stir fry (of various combinations), baked chicken, and sometimes, if one of us is feeling up to it, homemade chicken nuggets. Frankly I was getting tired of the same meals with little to no variations. So I finally took matters into my own hands and found that it was not that difficult.
You see when I am more use to living under my parents roof. Where they made the grocery lists and usually bought the essentials we needed. Yes we could request things, but what was the point when we had what we needed to make our basic meals? I sometimes got creative in the kitchen but not often. I would cook suppers quite often but they would be the basic meals, such as baked chicken, potatoes and green beans. This made me a decent cook, where I wouldn’t end up accidentally killing my husband the first week we lived together. I was a little afraid of trying a new recipe with ingredients I was not sure about. But I found it a lot easier than I thought.
First tip, sit down after the kids go to bed and browse your recipe books. If you know you do better with a certain ingredient look for recipes where that is the main ingredient. For example, I do better at cooking chicken. Next look down through the list of ingredients and write down all the ones you know you do not have, it is helpful in some cases to include how much you will need. Make sure you also mark the page with the recipe. I used sticky-notes. It is also important to choose recipes with ingredients that are not completely obscure. I use a Betty Crocker cookbook, a ‘365 Last-Minute Meals’ cookbook and a cookbook of comfort classics. These had easy recipes with common ingredients that usually could be prepared within an hour or less. The goal is to explore some new meals without breaking the bank or tearing out your own hair searching for ingredients.
Now go shopping. Don’t be afraid to ask where an ingredient may be. I picked up ingredients for 5 different recipes but some recipes used the same ingredient, which was quite nice. For example two recipes use small amounts of buttermilk. I felt safe buying a quart because I knew I could use some in multiple recipes before it would go bad.
Get home and try out some of your recipes. I decided to try a Caesar Chicken with Orzo. Orzo, for those of your who don’t know such as me, is a pasta. I guess the best description I could offer would be flat, long oval grains. A small bag can go a very long way as I discovered. I picked up a 17 ounce bag for under $3. Two cups was enough for 4 servings in the recipe I made. I made a few mistakes in the recipe but overall it turned out quite well. If you like a recipe enough add it to your recipe box for more variety in your meal plans.
I think my next attempt will be Irish Chicken and Dumplings. 🙂