I love cooking from recipes, be it from other food blogs (you can find some great examples in the useful websites section if you are stuck for inspiration) but I feel really passionately that people need to have the confidence to rely on their own knowledge and experience in the kitchen sometimes. You may the proud owner of a super organised kitchen and plan all your meals perfectly when you go shopping. But I know that, at least for me, all the right ingredients are pretty much never in the house at one time. That doesn't put me off creating a delicious meal though, as I know that I have the skills to do so without following a recipe word for word.
Here's how I do it:
1) Decide how much time you are willing to spend on a meal. Half an hour? An hour? It shouldn't limit you at all if you want a quick meal, I spend most of my time dashing to dance classes and rehearsals and still manage to cram in a little cooking now and then!
2) Choose a base. This is generally a carb of some sort.
My favourites are:
Couscous / Giant couscous
I prefer to eat these rather than something like pasta or white bread, but it is completely up to you. Eat whatever you want if it will make you feel great! Cook this according to the instructions on the packet.
3) Pick another main ingredient. I like this to be veg but if you are more of a carnivore then that is also fine.
Great examples are:
Green veg eg. spinach, kale
Root veg eg. butternut sqaush, carrots, parsnips
Then cook this as you want. A frying pan will improve pretty much any dish, even if it's only for a minute or two. Some vegetables and meat will need a little more forward planning if you are going to roast them.
4) Add some protein if your main ingredient was veg.
It is really important that you eat a balanced diet if you are vegetarian or vegan. While I personally do eat meat, most of my meals come from plant based sources. I make sure to sprinkle a few nuts or seeds over most of my meals, or another plant based protein such as avocado or lentils / beans. I generally avoid supplements as they are a hassle to get hold of and I think natural alternatives work just fine.
Food Matters made a great list of plant based proteins that can be found here.
5) Add a sauce or dressing, if you think your meal needs it. I am not ashamed of using 'cheat' ingredients sometimes such as ready made pesto or harissa. But I find that mixing these up with a bit of oil or some other store cupboard ingredients. I think the ability to mix up a sauce or dressing without really thinking about it comes with practice, if you are starting out in the kitchen maybe use a ready made sauce or skip it all together.
6) Enjoy your meal! If you make anything delicious by improvising in the kitchen I would love to hear about it. Leave a message in the comments below or on social media.
Contemporary dance student and food-lover, sharing tips and tricks, recipes and generally random ideas.