I will tell you the story of my experience in the kitchen.
I have been cooking daily, since the beginning of 2013. So enthusiastic I was about home cooking and food, I even started a group on Facebook where my friends and I were actively exchanging recipes on food or cooking tips. However, after a while, I started thinking..it’s all the same, isn’t it? There’s a recipe, you follow it, and voila, you have a dish but…how can I do this better?
Still mulling over this,and while I was surfing the internet, I stumbled upon a website Keeper of the Home where one of its writers mentioned that everyone has a ‘cooking style’ – which would “determine one’s choice of recipes, your outlook on food and the kind of food you would cook and serve your family and friends”.
So I pondered,” What’s ‘my cooking style’?”
I reflected…over the course of two months in which I had cooked almost daily, largely due to the motivation and inspirations gained from my cooking group, I tended to cook dishes which were from all over the world.
Preparing a dish is akin to travelling: when you learn to cook a country’s dish, you learn so much about how this community of people live.
I also learnt when I choose the type of dishes to cook, something that cannot be disregarded is dietary restrictions. I am talking about food intolerances or allergies and high-risk illnesses like high blood pressure (or high cholesterol).
I used to ‘brush over’ such ‘ailments’, kinda overlooking them as whipping up family meals in record time took precedence over these significant restrictions.
But.. these conditions are an integral part of a menu plan and will not at any time ‘go away’ just because you want it to. Rather than try to ‘make light’ of it, one needs to build up food knowledge over time to ‘cook anything’, taking into consideration these dietary restrictions.
Therefore, another word to describe my cooking style is ‘healthy’.
An additional insight I realised about my ‘cooking style’ is I am inclined towards the Mediterranean diet and I like to cook a low gluten diet dish whenever I can.
It had occurred to me I would like to be vegan too, but at this point, I do not think I am ready to go meatless.
So, the three words which would describe my cooking style would be ‘international’, ‘healthy’ and ‘fast’.
So…how does all this knowledge tie in with being more cost-savvy in the kitchen?
Well, it means that I plan recipes which are more aligned with my ‘cooking style’ – International, Healthy, Fast in preparation for weekly menu planning.
That would mean disregarding any complicated recipes and choosing simple recipes or those that can be tweaked and substituted with herbs and local spices rather than relying on salt, sugar and artificial seasonings to make them tastier. Including dishes with white meat, more plant protein, vegetables and fruit will also become essential.
I also realised my cooking outlook helped me determine the cookware and kitchen tools I needed to purchase for my small-scale kitchen. It prevented me from making thoughtless purchases which can sometimes ring up the cash register. Worst, cluttering the little space I had available already.
Yes, no doubt, a heightened awareness of one’s cooking preferences can certainly help any novice cook, and even a veteran cook, (I’m not sure where I fall in at this point^^) become a more thrifty cook in the kitchen!
Updates (19 September 2021)
The main picture of this post was a one-dish meal I had cooked in the rice cooker. The creator of this dish is Squall Chin and I think he is based in Malaysia. Up to today, I am still on the lookout for recipes that will achieve my attitude towards food and cooking (‘cooking style’) ; they save a bundle on time and energy. I cooked this once a month during the Covid-19 in 2020 and it was a major lifesaver! It broke the monotony of humdrum dishes; the olives and the lemon are wonderful add-ins ! You can go to my Instagram post on this dish to find the recipe:)