Now that its January, most people vow to eat better in the new year. Healthy eating starts with eating real food, and cooking for yourself at home. Use these tips to become more confident in the kitchen, and to make your life just a little easier, especially if you are not accustomed to cooking.
Buy a whole chicken at the meat counter. Ask the butcher to break it down and package each half separately. Freeze one, then roast the other half, rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper, sitting on a bed of chopped carrot onions, celery and garlic. Roast at a preheated 400 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Bonus: if you drain the juices, into a hot pan and let it bubble for a minute, you have killer gravy!
Use up everything!
Have a lot of carrot, onion, celery and garlic? Take the bones from the chicken you just ate, chop the vegetables up into chunks, cover all of it with as much water fits into your largest pot and simmer for a few hours and you have just made chicken stock…that will also keep well in the freezer! Once winter gets really harsh, you can have a delicious base for chicken soup!
Bring meat or fish to room temperature before you cook. It will result in even temperature and shorter cooking times.
Keep the root of the onion in tact as you cut it. Take a knife skills class if you feel like you need to. But having knife skills will make life in the kitchen so much easier, and is really the basis for anything you do in the kitchen Create your own seasoning combinations. If you always use salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley to season, cut the need to open 4 different spice jars and combine them all.
Like more pepper than salt? Then just add more pepper than salt. You control the seasoning!
Liven up your noodle. Sure, opening a jar of sauce and plopping it on spaghetti is really tasty, not gonna lie, but have you ever tried these amazing combinations? They’re delicious cold the next day too.
1. Spaghetti with broccoli and red pepper flakes. Throw in some frozen broccoli in the last 2 minutes of cooking the pasta, toss in olive oil and season with salt, and red pepper flakes.
2. Orecciette pasta with peas, butter and Parmesan. Same concept, but frozen peas have a shorter cooking time.
3. Capellini with garlic and fresh basil. Chop the heck out of 3 cloves of garlic. Then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of kosher salt on the pile of garlic and keep chopping. Drain the pasta, leaving about ½ cup of the water in, then toss in some the salty garlic, then freeze the rest of the garlic paste in a plastic baggie for next time. Throw in chopped fresh basil to taste.
Using frozen veggies and pantry staples make these dishes so super simple and amazing in yo mouth!
Steak and Eggs, or Polenta and Eggs, or Veggies and Eggs! You got it, eggs pack a real culinary punch anyway you eat them. They are full of nutrients and healthy fats too. Just take some leftovers, cook up an egg and boom, insta-meal. Inexpensive, versatile and damn good….thanks, eggs!
The freezer is your friend. Keep blocks of cheese, bread and even herbs in the freezer and preserve the items that you may not go through before their expiration date. Chop up that bunch of herbs and put them into ice trays with a bit of water and freeze. Once frozen, remove them from the tray and store in zip-top bags.
Buy enough ingredients to make a few extra servings and take them to work for lunch. Never underestimate the power of leftovers. It will save money just bringing lunch to work, and you will also have more time to eat, and rest during your breaks. Standing in line for 30 minutes for a sandwich to be made, including the time it takes to get to the deli will eat up that hour you should be using to chill out (pun totally intended).
Basically, all you have to do is keep basic ingredients on-hand, with a little creativity or Internet search skills and you can make a meal in no time at all. There is nothing healthier than eating real food, that is made at home. Not only is it good for the body, it is good for your soul.
Cheers to a very happy year in the kitchen!