I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Cooking for yourself is hard. Especially when you want to eat every single day. One meal a week? Okay, I’m alright with that. Two meals? I suppose I can make that happen… Three? Didn’t I just cook on Tuesday?
Here are a few tips and ideas that will help make meal time easier (or at least more interesting). You might even trick yourself into thinking that you’re an actual functional adult!
Add some crunch
Apparently, if you coat things in cornstarch before you fry them up in just a little bit of oil, it creates this crunchy, tasty, breading thing, and it’s amazing. It works for meat, tofu, veggies, you name it. You can just mix some cornstarch and some spices in a bowl and then roll your food stuffs in it as you would with breadcrumbs, or you can really go all in and make a whole cornstarch-y sauce thing to let your food soak in for a bit, like in this recipe. Either way, the result is a satisfying crispy coating on whatever you’re eating without the unhealthiness of deep-frying anything.
The college casserole
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of eating the same pre-made/ minimal-effort meals over and over again, especially when you’re busy. I mean, Kraft mac and cheese is quick, simple, and easy, and honestly, for the first few nights in a row, it’s pretty tasty. But sooner or later, you end up wanting something (anything!) new to eat. Fret not, my friend, because you are about to discover the wonder of the college casserole! Got some veggies? Fry them up and toss them in the mac and cheese with some barbecue sauce. Got a box of leftover Chinese food, but not enough to make a real meal out of? Dice it up real small, and some cheese, and wrap it in a tortilla. The trick here is not to be afraid to experiment with what you’ve got, because chances are, most things you’ve got in your fridge won’t be too bad put together.
The other night, my friend and I made some crispy garlic and ginger tofu (see the tip above about cornstarch), stirred it into a box of mac and cheese, added some extra cheddar cheese, and sprinkled on a spoonful of chili powder. I’m telling you, this was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in a long time.
Cook with wine
I like wine. You like wine. We all like wine, right? So, why not put it your food?
No, but for real, nothing feels fancier than using wine as an ingredient in your meals. Trust me, you’ll feel like a chef on TV, and imagine how sophisticated you’ll sound when, instead of telling your friends that you had mac and cheese for dinner, you get to say “I made capellini and shallots with a white-wine and mozzarella sauce.” (This is an actual thing that I make, and it’s delicious. It’s just some dried shallots and butter heated in a pan with a splash of whatever wine I have in the fridge. Add some cooked spaghetti, sprinkle on some cheese, and you’re done).
I get that cooking with wine sounds intimidating, but it’s easier to do than you’d think. The next time you’re cooking something in a frying pan, add a dash of wine and let it sizzle for a bit. Your food picks up a bit of the wine taste, and you feel like you’re living in a restaurant.