Monday, December 28, 2015

How to Retire Early: Cooking at Home

I have a confession to make: for the first part of this year (let's say January through October) my family ate our meals out 90% of the time. The food that I could make at home was boring and tasteless compared to the explosion of flavor that graced my plate at the restaurants. And I love food. A lot. I tried to recreate the meals that I love but they never worked out as well as what I could simply buy.

I knew I was eating out too much but I had no idea how to change this behavior. Because I wasn't cooking at home, my skills atrophied and I swear that I got worse at it.

All that changed when I got invited to try Hello Fresh. I swear, this is not an add for Hello Fresh. I'm not getting anything by linking to them. I'm just explaining how I managed to escape the trap of eating out.

Hello Fresh is one of those meal in a box delivery systems (overpriced but convenient with everything you need so I did end up saving money on both eating out and grocery shopping). I was skeptical since everything I cooked tasted like mush, but I followed their directions and was amazed by the way a few herbs and spices could make an ordinary dish taste extraordinary.

Don't get me wrong. I had used herbs and spices in my own cooking previously but I often used old dried herbs and out of date spices. I was amazed by how much flavor fresh herbs and spices produced. Not only that - but I LOVED the meals. Each one was different and flavorful.

I used Hello Fresh for about two months and steadily ate out less and less during that time when "the switch" happened. I turned into one of those snobby food people. Their bulk ingredients were no longer satisfactory. I wanted only fresh organic vegetables to go in my cooking.

So, armed with their recipes (which they kindly let you keep), I cancelled their service and began to make my own meals. I used herbs from my garden and veggies from the farmers market, and I became addicted - not only to the flavor in the food but to the act of preparing a meal for my family.

I would pour myself a glass of wine and listen to Billie Holiday on the radio while I created a meal that would nurture those I loved most. Dinner became a sacred time in our home. A time to connect and talk about the day away from bustle of a busy restaurant. A time to enjoy the simple flavors of the food and appreciate each other.

Dinner became more than just a inconvenience to feed my hunger. It became an integral part of my life. I love to create meals to feed my friends and chatting with them while the flavors of the food cook together on the stove. I love the time it takes to create the meal and the love that is my table when it is ready.

By giving up restaurants, I not only saved hundreds of dollars a month on eating out but I found a connection and joy with my family that I didn't have before.

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