To kick off my contribution to Grocery Coupon Guide, I thought I'd share a bit of my background and my philosophy on food. First, I'll tell you a secret: I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm by no means a food expert or professional of any sort. Aside from a 7th grade home-ec class, I've never had any formal instruction, never made money cooking for others, and never owned any fancy schmacy cooking gadgets. Any knowledge or skills I may have came from watching my parents, Rachael Ray, and Alton Brown, or generally experimenting on my own. The good news is, that lack of expertise or professionalism isn't a liability, it's an asset. It leaves me free to experiment and create things to my own tastes without worrying about technicalities. My food is my food, so if I love it, I've succeeded. With that in mind, here are some of the methods to my madness.
Above All, Keep It Simple
Even though I love to cook, I also have a million other things I could (or should) be doing, so I rarely spend more than 30 minutes prepping any meal. On top of that, I hate doing dishes, so I often make meals using just one pot, one skillet, or even a single plate. You might be surprised at how even a fancy or flavorful meal can be made with a minimum amount of time and tools.
Substitution is one of the great joys of cooking. I rarely follow a recipe to the letter, adding and subtracting ingredients based on my tastes or what I have on hand. Cooking should be fun and flexible, so suit your meal to your tastes and don't get bogged down in the details.
Eat Early and Often
My day goes infinitely better when I eat breakfast. Some of my favorites include waffles with fruit and yogurt, eggs and hashbrowns, english muffins and peanut butter. This goes for snacking as well; grabbing a healthy snack with a good dose of protein helps keep me in a good mood.
Spice It Up
Herbs and spices have magical powers. Sprinkling any of a thousand combinations into your meal can instantly transform food from lackluster to fabulous. Whenever I get into a rut, the first thing I do to change it up is to try a new spice or a new combination using the old standbys.
Indulge without the Guilt
I eat what I love, and I love what I eat. Anything less just isn't worth it. I plan my meals around the healthy foods I love, and then I eat desert! For me, half the motivation behind eating vegetables is so I can justify the chocolate later.
Measure your success in the kitchen by whatever standard is right for you. If you're having fun and creating something you'll truly enjoy, then consider your meal mission: accomplished!