baking cooking

How to cheat in the kitchen and get away with it

How to “cheat” in the kitchen and get away with it

If you follow my blog you are probably aware that I don’t always use fresh ingredients. Sometimes behind the scenes I’ll even employ a family member to do my dicing of veggies or fruits. Some might even call using canned, frozen or otherwise premade elements cheating. I like to think of it more as using your resources. There’s a reason these foods come ready to go for us, convenience. Some will put their nose up at it, but I’ve learned to embrace it for the sake of my health and happiness. 

Why I cheat

I would love to spend all day in the kitchen making and creating but it’s just not feasible. I suffer from autoimmune diseases which include painful arthritis in my whole body including my hands which makes chopping foods and standing for long periods difficult. Plus I have fatigue like crazy. I physically cannot make extravagant dishes everyday. Like me there are millions of people who have low energy or pain that makes cooking difficult. Not to mention all the parents, students, and workers out there who are super busy. Or maybe you just aren’t that confident in the kitchen. All of those are reasons to read further and consider subscribing. 

Be Prepared and Embrace the Pre Prepared!

The problem with some fresh ingredients is that they take proper prep before they can be eaten. Washing, cutting, cooking, and not everyone has time, energy or know-how for that. I live in a rural area so for me going to the grocery store doesn’t happen that often. If I’m not incredibly careful in my food planning, I will end up with moldy green tomatoes and brown squishy avocados. Not to mention bananas that can only be resuscitated through the baking of banana bread. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like fajitas with fresh slices of sauteed peppers and onions. But I can also get a frozen bag of them from the store pre-cut, mixed, and cooked ready to defrost and eat. Do the fresh peppers taste better? Well, yes, they do, especially since I like my vegetables al dente. However, life doesn’t always allow you to make things the complicated way. If I don’t plan ahead in time for dinner, I can be left with fifteen minutes before the peanut gallery gets hangry. Fifteen minutes isn’t really enough time to cook some things, for example, frozen chicken, properly. That’s one of the beautiful things about pre prepared foods like rotisserie chicken or canned chicken. It’s already ready to go. Toss some chicken on your favorite salad or some quickly cooked noodles and make a meal of it. Fresh pesto is amazing, but making it requires fresh basil and that can go bad fast. I’m left with two options, be prepared to make it first thing or get a jar of it at the store. And there’s nothing wrong with either option. I have learned over time to set aside my pride and silence the voice in my head that says, “it has to be completely fresh and difficult to make, to be a good meal ”. 

Know your seasonings and sauces

One of the easiest ways to cheat your way into a tasty meal is knowing your seasoning and sauces. Having a good arsenal of them can help you turn 99 cent packaged ramen into a dish of lo mein in as little as 10 minutes. I have two kitchen drawers full of seasonings plus a stash in the pantry and on the kitchen counter. My sauces and marinades can seemingly fill half my fridge. Knowing your seasonings is a great way to make things taste like you worked hard on them. A pre-packaged sauce or marinade is perfect for dousing your meat before cooking, especially if you’re nervous about what spices to use. Marinades and spices can take a meal from edible to delectable in almost no time. If you’re still using just salt and pepper to “season” your food this is your sign to be more adventurous. 

Know your food substitutes

I can’t tell you how many times ‘ll be trying to follow a recipe only to find I’m missing some of the ingredients. I used to think, “well now I can’t make it” but au contraire mon ami. There are so many things, especially in baking that can substitute each other with nearly zero effect on the outcome of the dish. For example let’s say you’re making cupcakes and the recipe calls for vegetable oil. If you’re out of vegetable oil and dont want to use your expensive olive oil, you can use the same amount of applesauce to replace the oil and you would never know the difference. Knowing my substitutions has saved me many trips to the store which equals time, money and energy spared. 

In conclusion, to quote the Disney animated movie, “Ratatouille”, “Anyone can cook.” Making delicious meals doesn’t have to make you want to pull your hair out. It’s time to use your resources, and “cheat” your way into a happy tummy. 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *