This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.
You can love cooking as much as you want, but if you have a family to feed day in and day out, things can get a bit repetitive and boring. Cooking can, ultimately, become more a chore than a joy, which is such a shame.
Y’all know how much I adore my time in the kitchen, but sometimes livening things up or changing my cooking repertoire can be a much needed refresher.
It’s quite common, especially when you need to be mindful of food expenses for a family. Sticking to tried and tested recipes not only gives you confidence in being able to put a tasty meal on the table, but it also brings along certain predictability of cost.
When you try out new recipes, there is usually always that element of buying a bit too much of a specific ingredient or not enough. Produce is an entirely different issue. I can’t tell you how much produce I’ve wasted because it goes bad before I use it – not to mention produce can be very expensive.
Here are some tips to help you balance the of cooking while sticking to a budget.
Planning is key. This cannot be stressed enough, preparation is everything. You could set yourself a goal of trying at least one new meal per week. If you plan carefully, you will still have the reliability of predicting your budget while being able to explore something new.
Nothing throws a monkey wrench in the whole operation than deciding on meals while you are shopping for groceries. For some of us (especially yours truly!), online grocery shopping is ideal and soooo convenient, as it prevents us from being distracted and seduced by daily specials. And for sure, NEVER, ever go grocery shopping while you’re hungry. Stay on task, and definitely a shopping list helps, whether you’re shopping in person, or shopping online.
Bring in variety with a purpose. What really could make things fun is tying your weekly menu to things like world pancake day or a vegetarian month (or week if you are surrounded by carnivores). If you weren’t aware, everyday of the month has a food theme, which can always be a source of inspiration.
You could also think of doing an ‘around the world’ cycle with a different country or continent each week. For example, if you wanted pasta twice a week, do your research. You will be surprised how many different variations you could find on even a simple dish like spaghetti, without even having to change the pasta itself. Think of a Bolognese sauce versus an arrabbiata. Pestos are always an easy and delicious way to add a different flavor profile to a simple steak or pasta dish.
Get challenged each week. What if you take out all the planning and shopping? The process of shopping and finding new recipes could not be easier with any of the many meal box services out. Every week you will get recipes and a box full of ingredients to whip together new and exciting meals. Not only does it take away the time planning and hunting down ingredients, but it’s also a bit like a treasure trove with associated excitement of not knowing what you will get next. A good example is the Sun Basket, which is all about organic and healthy food choices. After using a couple of these services, you’ll probably find yourself making notes about some of the dishes you enjoyed to put your own spin on them, or completely recreating them.
Always try to think outside of the box when it comes to cooking, especially when you find yourself in a creative rut.
Absolutely nothing is more satisfying than cooking a great meal and seeing your loved ones enjoying it. That’s probably my favorite aspect that stems from my love of cooking. Sitting down at the dinner table is sometimes the only time you can get everyone together, without further distractions (ban phones) and talk about their day and have a moment of family zen. Just make sure you don’t end up doing the dishes by yourself, as you deserve some rest after all that cooking – get the family involved in the clean up process.
After all, they reaped the benefit of your hard work in the kitchen.