Me and Zach used to spend a metric shit ton of money on dining out every month (yes, I do believe that’s the correct term). We desperately needed to stop flushing $800 per month down the toilet (literally). So, I did a flurry of Google searches and learned that you need to cook most of your meals at home.
There was a problem, though. I Hated—with a capital H—cooking. I had a lot of beef with it (har har):
- What should I cook?
- How do you cook different things?
- I’m usually too tired at the end of the day to cook for hours.
- I never had the ingredients I needed for a given recipe.
- Getting a flu shot is more fun than doing dishes.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? They’re pretty formidable obstacles for me, too. But, once I identified these challenges, I was able to search out strategies and techniques to fix them.
I found out that most of my problems centered on three distinct areas surrounding cooking:
- finding something to cook
- planning to cook it
- the actual cooking process itself
Today, I’ll walk you through how I addressed the first challenge—finding something to cook.
Related Post: How To Battle A Dining Out Addiction…And Win!
Find Recipes To Add To Your Recipe Bank
You can’t cook food if you don’t know what to make. To find things to make, you need to have a recipe. Now that I’m cooking more, I’ve always got my eye out for great recipes. I’ve gotten some good ones from friends, family, and even grocery store mailers.
One of my favorite places to look is Pinterest. I get tons of great ideas just by browsing around people’s boards. There’s a whole industry of food bloggers who post recipes on Pinterest. Some of my favorite bloggers to check out are Damn Delicious, 5 Dollar Dinners, Pinch of Yum, Oh Sweet Basil, and The Wanderlust Kitchen.
Make sure to check out Budget Bytes too—they’re exclusively devoted to cheap but super delicious recipes!
Another of my secret weapons is Craftsy, an online learning platform that has very in-depth series of cooking classes on particular topics. These are great for me as a newbie because they don’t just give you recipes, they teach you how to do an entire cooking style from start to finish using the recipes as examples.
I learned how to make homemade artisan bread and stir-fries using Craftsy classes, and it’s completely opened up new cooking avenues for me to try. I’m still not great at stir-fries mostly because hot oil scares me. Seriously, I don’t know how I still have eyebrows.
Even though I’m not a top-rated chef, I can still make stuff that’s better than the mush I was attempting before. Craftsy runs promotions and sales all the time, and I’m waiting for the next one to buy the Homemade Italian Pasta and the Homemade Sourdough: From Starter To Baked Loaf classes. Yum!
Collect Recipes In Your Recipe Bank
What good is it if you find recipes but don’t remember you have them? Seriously, guys, I ain’t your Nana who can whip up four-course meals in her sleep!
I needed some way to collect all the recipe names in one place so that I could easily search them when planning out meals. I do this in Excel, because spreadsheets make me happy, even if it’s a single column:
I also like to collect my recipes into one master Evernote notebook. Many of the food bloggers post photos of the whole cooking process and I find this insanely helpful. I get most of my recipes online now anyways, and I like to see the pictures when I’m cooking so I can see how bad I messed mine up.
I do have some recipes clipped from magazines and on index cards, and I’ve been meaning to scan these into Evernote, but so far I haven’t found the time. For those, I have a small index card box.
Related: NSFW Recipe Index Cards
I’ve found that curating an ever-expanding list of recipes has been one of the most fun part of the whole cooking process. It’s like a choose-your-own adventure book, but with a tasty meal at the end rather than a wad of gum.
Don’t Be Lazy—Start Collecting Recipes Today!
Guys, seriously. If you don’t have a recipe bank, WTF. It’s not hard to create one. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time to get started. After that, just spend a few minutes once a month or so looking for recipes. If you find recipes elsewhere, then great! Snag ’em like a tall, dark, handsome prince.
Now go forth and start a recipe bank!
Do you know of any great frugal recipe sources? Leave a comment below!