Cheaper, healthier, tastier

In a nutshell, home made food can be tastier, healthier and more economical than eating out. After having lived with Mrs FW for some years, I feel my taste buds have improved if only a little bit. It is easier for me to notice when food we eat out is heavily seasoned or somehow not as fresh as it could be and so on.

Maybe some fancy restaurants are not like this but those kinds of places are not venues that most people go to, at least not those reading a blog like this 🙂 .

Food eaten out, depending on the location can be overly seasoned to hide things, or to simply taste nicer at the expense of a healthy intake, or simply to make you thirsty so you are more likely to buy a drink from them too.

On top of that, we estimate that eating out costs at least five times what it would to buying up the ingredients and cooking up a meal at home. Definitely a more frugal way to go.

The way things were

My own staples before Mrs FW and I met were pasta and rice dishes- mostly pasta actually. We’re talking lasagnas, risottos, curries, and all sorts of random things with pasta; vegetable-pasta dishes, tuna-pasta dishes, chicken-pasta dishes and so on. Ah yes and also those Mexican meals in the yellow boxes. I would make large quantities to last 2-3 days on my own at least. This didn’t go down so well with Mrs FW, so over time she ended taking over the kitchen and I mostly did the occasional well-worn pasta or risotto to fill in the gaps.

Learning new skills

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A page from a recipe book. They aren’t all as complicated looking as this one.

I wonder what everybody is eating these days, now that most if not all restaurants are closed or only doing takeaways? Are more people learning to cook? As mentioned in an earlier post, we hardly ever eat out now anyway, but it did make me think that now is a time to improve ones’ skills in the kitchen, myself included.

Since we have known each other and living together, I have been to expand my repertoire, most notably in Asian dishes. Asian cuisine is our favourite and is so massively varied of course, so after knowing what our favourites are, I started to learn how to do them from her. For anything with more than a few ingredients I would write down what she is doing in a little recipe book (my memory is poor), but a couple of much simpler ones I would try to remember then make sure I repeat them on my own in the following days which helps them to stick.

My latest creation was a cake for Mrs FW’s birthday. I’d never had much success with anything apart from Banana bread in the past, so I was very happy with the way this one turned out.

Mrs FW.

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A Christmas meal. Candy canes for decoration only as we still have those.

Having always been someone who eats to live, Mrs FW on the other hand, lives to eat, and I am the luckiest man in the world to be married to her. There are many reasons, but one of them is that she is an amazing cook. She is a natural artist in the kitchen would be my description, instinctively knowing what ingredients will work well together and how to make food taste good without being unhealthy. She also has a habit of making anything I used to make, taste much better too. Something to do with the order of adding ingredients she told me once, and that I shouldn’t just shovel it all in at once like I have done in the past (I wasn’t so fussy haha).

She might say she doesn’t have the patience for it, but she would be a great teacher in the kitchen too.

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Afternoon tea, anyone?

Apart from making many many delicious healthy and tasty dishes for the dining table, she enjoys making even the simplest of meals look appealing when not at home. Whether it is a picnic, in a hostel while travelling or on a tray to eat on the bed or at our study desks, I have learned to appreciate the difference a couple of extra minutes of finishing touches can make.

It somehow makes the food look more inviting, more tasty and more ‘happy’, if a meal can have emotions at all. My first memory of this aspect of Mrs FW was on our first Europe trip together in Switzerland (future post). We only had a pizza, some fruit and bread, but I was taken aback by how much nicer it all looked due to the way she had arranged it. I noticed it also got more than a couple of passing looks of envy from fellow travellers 🙂 .

Mrs FW likes to cook healthy. If the ‘normal’ amount of sugar or salt for something she has seen online and was inspired to make it at home, then we will typically at least halve it.

Seasonal recipes

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Fruit jelly eggs

Mrs FW likes to add a touch of seasonality to her dishes. She will make Easter themed snacks in Easter, summery dishes in the summer and Christmas dishes at Christmas. Probably there are more examples but you get the idea. Here are a couple of little snacks she made this past Easter. The jelly eggs are a favourite and although I personally find it quite awkward when I have to help make them, it is always made up for when you taste them.

Exchanging with the neighbours

One extra bonus out of having someone confident in the kitchen around is when it comes to exchanging with neighbours. We have wonderful neighbours around us and have already been able to exchange some things we have made, and have also received in turn as well. We planned to give some of the jelly Easter eggs this year but unfortunately due to the pandemic we did not. Of course that meant we got to eat them all ourselves so I’m not complaining either.. Next year we’ll try again.

Takeaways:

  • There are countless recipes online. I’ve had limited success with some sources as I find the quantities of ingredients can be way off, either waaaay too much of one thing, or waaay too little of another.
  • The best way to learn is from someone teaching you, or who’s food you have tasted (and enjoyed).
  • Keep a recipe book. It might be annoying to have to find some paper and write it down, but from experience, I never remember how to do it when I get around to wanting to make it myself.
  • Start simple, and practise! Practise is what makes things stay with you which I’m sure you’ve heard before regarding many aspects of life.

Finally, if you have any questions please reach out. Seems unfair to be enjoying Mrs FW’s cooking knowledge all for myself 🙂 .