When I was cooking today, my housemate Josh asked me where I learned to cook. I told him that I mostly learned from watching my parents cook and also from watching the Food Network like the geek that I am. The question made me realize that a lot of people don’t really know how to cook on the fly. It’s a useful thing to be able to do though, especially when you have a whole bunch of leftover ingredients and no recipe.
Now, it’s not like I can magically instill this skill on you and I really don’t know what to say except just try it, but I can give a few little hints. Whether they’ll be helpful, I don’t really know, but hey, they work for me. Most of the time, anyway. And hey, at the very least I can say that these tips are way more useful than staring at the ingredients and trying to will them to become a meal.Freeze things! It makes them last longer and if you put them into little packets (saran wrap is your friend), they’re easier to use later on. It’s also useful if you, like me, get super excited when you see a three-pound container of ground turkey on sale at Albertson’s and fail to think about whether you will actually eat three pounds of ground turkey.
Stir Fry! It’s the easiest thing to make if you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. As long as you have ingredients, you can pretty much just throw them into a frying pan and cook it all. It’s sort of hard to go wrong.
Sauce it up! Even if you have sort of crappy ingredients, it’s nothing that a good sauce can fix. And even though what I have here is a bunch of Asian sauces, but honestly, you can use whatever: ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing… whatever floats your boat. If you want to throw in peanut butter and chocolate syrup, hey, who am I to stop you?
Soup! Making things into soup is also a pretty good option. It’s usually not as filling, but when your house is, for some stupid reason, colder than it is outside, soup is a not a bad idea. It’s also not all that hard. First off, a stock is necessary. Mine had seaweed and bonito fish flakes, but other ideas: blocks of meat, vegetables (I like using onions and mushrooms), chicken stock, etc.
And once your stock is tasty, add in your ingredients. Beans, meat, veggies, whatever. Flavoring would be useful here, too. Tomato sauce, salt, pepper, bouillon, spices, anything and everything that you think will make your soup tastylicious (yes, I did just say that).
Throw in some carb (because carbs are delicious) and there you have it! A nice meal using what you had in your fridge. And hopefully you were able to do it with very little anguish, although I make no promises.