I’ve mentioned on here a few times over the last few weeks that I’m cooking for myself this year after deciding against getting a meal plan. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go. I thought I would make recipes and eat leftovers. I thought I would eat out. I thought I would eat frozen food. I just didn’t know how much I would do of any of these things.
What has wound up happening has been something that I didn’t really anticipate. I didn’t anticipate it because I didn’t have a very complete grasp on what it means to cook. For my whole life I never would have said that I like to cook. I cook in order to eat, because obviously I like that a lot. But I do not cook just for the sake of cooking. I’m not going to declare in this post that all of a sudden I looooove to cook or anything, but I definitely have a greater appreciation for it.
Making a recipe just for yourself isn’t very satisfying. I know a lot of people who do it, but I’m not really a fan. First of all, there are usually a lot of ingredients that require a lot of planning. I’m sure this will be fun for me someday, but my life isn’t really in that stage right now. Secondly, you eat the same dish for several days. Most recipes are geared towards making at least four servings. If I’m being good, then that should take me four meals. Most things get boring after that. And lastly, most good food goes bad. I guess this relates to the first one, but my life isn’t really conducive to having ingredients that must be eaten by the end of the week. If something comes up, then I don’t want to say no because I have to eat something before it expires.
So rather than making a lot of recipes and doing everything that I just mentioned, what I have learned is that cooking doesn’t always mean making things from recipes. Sometimes it does. But learning to cook can also mean learning a set of skills that allows you to open your pantry and make yourself something that tastes good without thinking about it too much ahead of time. Part of this process is learning to buy the ingredients so that you can do this, because I know that last year I wouldn’t have been able to make anything out of what was in my pantry.
For example, a few weeks ago I learned how to make cheese sauce from butter, flour, cheese, and milk. I can make that and put it with a lot of things depending on what I have. A few weeks ago I made it and put it over pasta, and mixed in some broccoli. And it tastes good. AND I didn’t spend a ton of money on it or spend a long time shopping for it.
This realization has made me change my attitude about cooking. I complain a lot about cooking for one, but it’s really only hard if you are bound to recipes. It’s easier to throw something good together for one person than it is for a lot of people. And I think that a lot of times the throwing together allows you to be more creative. I definitely feel more accomplished when I feel that I have made something out of nothing than after spending a long time to duplicate someone else’s recipe.
To wrap this thing up, there are times when cooking for yourself isn’t always the best. I’m basically in the business of making things come out even, which can be both frustrating and satisfying. Do I sometimes wish that it made sense for me to make cool recipes? Yeah. Would this blog post be more interesting if I had cool recipes to share with you? Probably. But more often than not I find myself looking forward to making dinner at night, which is new for me. I think I’m finally starting to see cooking as something creative instead of tedious. It’s been a long time coming.