Cooking tips for newlyweds
- dinner belle Jan 12, 2009 01:56 PM
I'm writing an article reviewing cookbooks for newlyweds for a regional wedding magazine. As a sidebar to the article (i.e. bullet points), I'd like to include cooking tips for newlyweds/novice cooks. What sage (!) but general tips would you pass along to those not-in-the-know?
My husband and I have been married four years. We both work. Before we got married we agreed that I would cook supper and he would wash dishes on M,W,F and he would cook supper and I would wash dishes T, Th, & Sat or Sun. We usually have leftovers on the other weekend day. If one of us has to work late or has an appt or something we swap. It has worked well for us. This way, I know on Tuesdays that I don't have to think about what to make for supper. (Part of the plan is for the one not cooking to have time to workout on the Bowflex but I need to get back to that instead of spending that time on the computer.) We also make enough supper to have leftovers for the following day's lunches.
Learn how to cook now; don't put it off. Not only is it cheaper than going out, and while it might be easier for two newlyweds to go out to eat, it's not easier for people with 2-3 young children to go out to eat - and if they wait until then to learn how to cook, it'll be so, so, much more difficult.
I'm sure you can learn to cook with a 3-year-old pulling at you to come LOOK! NOW!, but I have to imagine it would be a lot harder in that situation than when you've got the free time to figure things out.
If you have some freezer space, spend a weekend day cooking up a big pot of soup or stew. Divide into 2-person portions and freeze. A real blessing when you both come home after work and are too tired to cook.
Get Guiliano Hazan's The Classic Pasta Cookbook. He's the son of Marcella Hazan, the famous Italian cookbook writer. Pasta can be quickly cooked up on a weeknight--it's a misconception that most pasta sauces have to cook for hours. Minutes is more like it. And most of them are insanely easy. There are plenty of gorgeous color photos of different types of pasta and suggestions of what pasta sauces can be frozen or at least refrigerated. The instructions are good.
Find a friend who you can call and ask stupid questions without feeling stupid. Find out how you learn the best ie. classes, books, TV, one on one with a friend, and start trying simple things until you get comfortable. Don't start with complicated things or you'll get discouraged. Keep trying even when you burn everything or make it inedible. It happens to everyone.
- first things first: remind yourself that, whatever trials you have to go through to learn kitchen proficiency, it's worth it.
- ask experienced cooks for their help, not just with the cooking itself, but with things like setting up your pantry, buying equipment, etc. Most of the best home cooks learned FROM someone -- their mother, a great home-ec teacher, a cooking class, a friend -- not just from cookbooks.
- sign up for an online foodie/cooking forum (hmmm... which one could you recommend?). Ask every question you have.
- read reviews and get advice before you invest in any cookbook. Don't just buy it because it's the most popular on Amazon or because it looks cool. There's nothing worse than dropping forty bucks on a cookbook you'll never use -- make sure it fits your lifestyle.
- apply yourself to learning techniques, NOT JUST RECIPES. Your goal should be to become a creative, improvisational, adaptable cook, not someone who can't make ramen, much less a simple weeknight supper, without a recipe.
Don't know if it's really a "cooking" tip, but I think it's great to plan your meals out in advance, say for the week. That way, you can do all your shopping at once and know what you're going to be cooking when you get home from work. It cuts down on the temptation to just go out for dinner, or to procrastinate on making the decision for the evening.
My tip would be to find aspects of cooking/preparing daily meals that you can both enjoy and contribute to. If dinner is something both partners are involved in, whether one helps with prep and the other does dishes, or one makes salad while the other sears, etc. then it can be an enjoyable way for couples to interact with each other every day. This will lead to a lifetime of partnership in the kitchen.
Before beginning a recipe, make sure you have all the needed ingredients. Be prepared that a recipe may not work, always try out a recipe before using it for a dinner party, and have a take-out menu or dried pasta and pasta sauce nearby just in case.
Our house rule, started when we were dating, whoever cooks doesn't clean.
1. Couple should sit down and discuss what items they do and don't like to eat. Record this.
2. Make tentative list of 7-10 meals you can make in advance, which contain some similar ingredients.
3. Make grocery list from the menu, include staples like milk, eggs, butter, cheese, etc.
4. Read the weekly newspapers, look at grocery ads. You don't have to visit more than one store, but figure out which one has the best sale items for your grocery list. Try to cultivate a farmer's market in the spring/summer/fall. Get to know the produce and butcher by name, it is a very worthwhile relationship.
5. One Saturday or Sunday a month, get all 4 burners going, do a "cooking marathon" while you multi-task and clean the house, do laundry, etc. Have a pot of soup on the stove, a pot roast in the oven, prep some veggies in bags or boxes for later in the week. THINK SMART!
6. You will save so much money by cooking rather than eating out, after a year or two you will have a down payment on a house!