Since covid I'm sure as many others I have been cooking more. I have to say my cooking skills in 1 year have greatly improved. A lot of it stems from just cooking pretty much daily and often time 2x/day. But with a new year and my DK1 turning 11 (I have a tween! WTH) I realized that 11 years ago after first having my new baby I was an okay cook. Let me explain.
When I left for college my mom was a terrible cook and still is. Cooking was not a big thing in my family. As I've mentioned my mom would cook a huge pot of spaghetti and we'd eat for the week. Variety was not important in our family. We often ate the same things over and over. So I went to college not really knowing how to cook. I ate a lot of spam, canned tuna, and rice. So to say my cooking skills were limited is an understatement.
I met DH right after college and he was definitely a better cook than me. Great? No but for someone right out of college I would say a solid cook. He could do eggs, steaks, pasta with tomato sauce and ground beef (this turned into our staple meal weekly since it was cheap). For most of our 20s I would say we were so busy working that we barely cooked and ate a lot of the same food. Our variety often came in the prepackaged meals from costco. Sandwiches was our daily staple for work to save money. A lot of what we did was to save money, but also we had no idea how to really cook. We also ate out quite a bit being busy DINKS and more dispoable income than we probably knew what to do with.
Then we had our DK1 in 2010 and going out was tiring but we also went down to 1 income and I was looking to make money stretch more. Our income was better than ever but we wanted a second kid and it was tiring to go out. So I started to learn how to cook.
I believe on this blog I asked was it cooking if i used prepackaged meals from costco or trader joes? Most said yes. But they also agreed it was cheaper than going out to eat and better than just takeout fastfood or restaurants. So I figured it still was better than eating out even though it was expensive. But during this time I began to develop a few lazy meals. DH and I decided we would learn say 10-15 meals and it would be in our rotation. We did this. We began to cook more and learned to make about 10-15 recipes we always had on hand. Solid recipes that were tasty and easy to make. So from 2010-2019 we probably ate the same 20 meals and added one here and there if we found something easy. I would say these years were my "development" years. It's where I learned to cook and just improve as a cook overall. Nothing fancy but cutting became faster, baking stuff, experimenting a little. Just overall more comfortable in the kitchen.
Then covid hit last year and we found ourselves unable to go out and while we could spend more on take out, I found myself wanting to lose weight and hesistant to go out. So the cooking began. I also had more time without all the kid activities and working as much to actually meal plan and experiement. So this year I would say covid has really developed my cooking skills and I would say than I'm definitely in the upper 25% of people out there. Before I would say I was at the 50% of cooking skill. Not a fabulous cook but someone solid.
Now my family has a much broader range of foods I make with a wider rotation. I also do more than just an entree, I have expanded into different appetizers, I do desserts, etc. Things I've done recently is I've done an amazing cheesecake. I also this week made malaysian chicken satay (more moist than thai), making beef rendang tonight, and leftover beef stew meat I'll make guiness beef stew tomorrow. I make a ton of different curries now from indian, thai, malaysian, japanese. I am working on stir fry noodle dishes next. I also made homemade puttanesca and bolognese sauces last weekend for friends. I think I've got the hang of sourdough bread. I make cornbread in a cast iron skillet. Last week was japanese lamb curry and lamb shish kebabs (both dishes i made from around 15 years ago and something I learned way before kids). But I've improved it.
Maybe it's the fact that recipes are everywhere. Maybe it's the time but covid has been good for improving my cooking skills. Now I find myself just looking over recipes and thinking I can do that and weirdly I have all the ingrediants on hand because I cook so much. Since I cook so much I have a ton more spices, cream, stuff on hand to cook at any given time.
How did you learn to cook? Do you think you're a good cook and how did you improve?
NW up $110k. $1.371M retirement and $706k taxable. Because DH is leaving his job we are trying to max out his 401k for the year and have contributed $13k thus far I think we should be able to max it out next paycheck.