The Basics of Making a Menu.
So, what do you like to eat? This was one of the questions I asked in our last edition and it’s so critically important for home cooking. This one question will set the foundation for everything going forward; from what kinds of groceries you buy to what kinds of meal plans you make. It reduces waste in both food and money, and more importantly, it makes eating at home enjoyable and something you actually want to do.
If you actually answered this question from our last edition, go over your list and start thinking about what you’ve written down. How many of these foods are within your ability to make? Do you have the time and tools to make them? How much does a specific recipe you wrote down actually make? Do any of these items take exotic or unusual ingredients that you only know how to use for that one dish? Based on these follow ups, start crossing things off (for now) that don’t work. If you feel like your list got too small, add some more items to it and then ask the same questions.
Once you feel like you have a good list, think about the ingredients you need to make all of these things and find the common ingredients that overlap. These are going to be your staple ingredients and make up the foundations of your pantry and what you keep in your fridge. If you’ve put some real thought into this exercise, congratulations! You’ve made your first meal list, grocery list, and kitchen inventory that you can use to start setting up your pantry. If any of this sounds confusing to you, here’s the break down that I made. When you make your lists, you can be as comprehensive as you want or as hands off as you want. There is nothing wrong with buying premade ingredients that are ready to go off the shelf (like pizza dough) as opposed to making them from scratch. In fact, doing so will often provide you with the flexibility and remove barriers to doing a lot of home cooking. You do not need to make everything from scratch to be a good home cook!
To close this week, our recipe is going to be homemade salsa! Salsa is another really simple recipe that can be whipped up with minimal effort and often can be made with leftover ingredients of what you have laying around the house. I’ve also selected this recipe because it will be a great way for you to practice your knife skills this month – a skill that is critical any kind of cooking. Take a glance at this video for a great “how to” on knife skills and then dive in.