The biggest comment I hear from people in my cooking classes is that they are afraid to cook at home. They never really learned how, and they are afraid of "messing up". Often, they think that they do not have the right kitchen equipment or ingredients, or they simply do not know what recipe to try. I always tell them that there is no reason for them not to give it a try. What is the worst thing that could happen? Your meal doesn't come out as expected, and you end up having eggs and cereal for dinner.
I believe there are more than enough reasons for you to make the decision to prepare most of your meals at home. Let's begin with the biggest reason....saving money.
When my kids were little, we lived a mile away from a Chili's Grill and Bar. It was a five minute drive from the house, there was rarely a wait, and we could be in and out in under an hour. Sometimes the food was good, sometimes average and sometimes it was BAD. Sound like a "no-brainer? Not really. Let's do some math.
To begin with, dinner for the four of us would cost about $50 a meal. Assuming we went once a week, that is $2600 a year on one meal of a 21 meal week.
I could easliy prepare a meal for $15 (usually less, but let's go with $15 for now) that would feed the four of us, plus have leftovers for two more meals. That is $780 for three meals a week over the course of a year, which is $260 a year for one meal. That breaks down to $5 a meal which would save $2340 a year....a nice chunk of change. If we had replaced all 52 of those restaurant meals for a home cooked meal, we could have saved up to $7000 a year! Do you know what we could have done with that money?!?!?! We could have padded the kids college funds; or gone on a luxury safari in Africa; or we could have donated the money to a worthy charity; or I could have remodeled my kitchen.
This is the primary purpose for my cooking classes....to show people that homecooking is easy (check out my 11/16 class on the Lost Art of Home Cooking - the recipes are sure to become regulars in your rotation). Over the next few weeks, I will be going over the benefits of cooking at home. The reasons are quite compelling.
1 - Home cooking is healthier than restaurant meals. Ever wonder why restaurant food tastes so good? It is because of the large quantity of butter, starch and salt added to their food.
2 - You have more control over your ingredients and portions.
3 - It is faster to prepare a meal at home than it is to get in the car, drive, find a parking spot, get seated, wait for your server, order, wait some more for your food, eat, pay and drive home. It's all about keeping it simple, but scrumptous.
4 - You can eat seasonal produce that is at its peak flavor, and be assured that you are using high quality ingredients.
5 - Cooking is fun.
6 - You get much better "quality" time with your family by bringing everyone together in your kitchen than you would in a crowded, loud restaurant.
7 - Cooking with your kids teaches them the lifelong skill of cooking.
8 - Saving money. A steak that costs $11 at Whole Foods would cost you $30 in a restaurant. See above.
This does not mean you should feel guilty about dining out. Dining out is an experience that I personally would never give up completely. The difference between my days of running out to Chili's and now, is that now when we go out to dinner, we make sure to go to fabulous restaurants, with highly talented chefs. I am a pretty good cook, and usually not intimidated by a new recipe, but these chefs make dishes that would take me days to recreate at home.
Here is a super easy and delicious meal for you to try. I use frozen shrimp which works beautifully in the dish. It costs about $4 a pound when it is on sale at Publix, so when I see it on sale, I buy two (2 #) bags. you can have the ingredients needed to make this dish in your kitchen at all times. Serve over a bed of rice, couscous, quinoa or pasta, and you have a yummy and complete meal.
PS - I am hoping to launch the CIP YouTube Channel by the first of the year. Look for the links soon!
Greek Shrimp from Santorini
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 (750 milliliter) bottle dry white wine
2 pounds peeled and deveined medium
1 (4 ounce) container crumbled feta
2 lemons, halved
2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, chopped parsley, tomatoes, and wine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
3. Stir the shrimp into the tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes; remove from the heat. Pour the shrimp mixture into a shallow baking dish, and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese. Bake in the preheated oven until the feta has softened and the shrimp are no longer translucent, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Squeeze the lemon halves over the shrimp and garnish with the parsley sprigs to serve.