Cooking

Not exactly the kind of Bad Cook I was looking for, but I’ll take it.

I am not a good cook. I get VERY frustrated with the complexity of putting together meals. I can tear a PC apart, rip into a car’s engine and electronics, wire a building for phone and network… but putting a meal together is not my strong suit. Luckily, my wife does about 99% of the cooking. It’s nearly overwhelming because I’m making food for my wife and son as well as myself. It’s one of the few things that REALLY stresses me out. There are certain things with food prep that I’m not used to… like the proper way to handle meat and keeping your area clean and having all the stuff you need out before you start. And then there’s making sure that everything finishes cooking at the same time so I don’t have cold food that needs to be reheated.

As for people who LOVE to cook… what the hell is the matter with you!? Seriously, how do people do this for a living? That being said, I’m not bad at cooking meat. However, my grille hates it. I have this piece of crap that someone left at my house for storage and then they eventually went out and bought a new one leaving me with this garbage (Sorry Kris…). It’s got nasty hot spots, tons of cold spots and is almost impossible to keep at an even temp. It’s an open flame propane grille so when grease comes off the meat, it starts little fires here and there.

To quote Arthur Dent: “What the HELL is THAT!?”

My kitchen, on the other hand, is all new equipment (thanks to me selling my old Audi S6) but is VERY narrow. It’s not the place for two people to work. There’s not a lot of counter space either so prepping food requires it to be nearly spotless prior to work and even then it’s still tight. My wife is able to work around it… I am not. We also have a lot of gadgets too: a stand mixer (no idea how that works), a dehydrator (just got it, haven’t played with it yet), a really nice blender (ooo, I know how to use that one) and a few other things in which I have no idea how to use them or what they’re for. The meals I tend to make are simple. I like simple though, so that works for me. I THINK my wife likes simple. If she doesn’t she never complains about it. I’m lucky that my wife either really likes my cooking (when I do it right) or she’s just a fantastic liar. I tend to be more critical of my own creations than she does. One thing she does correct me on (thankfully) is proper and safe food handling.

The final problem we tend to have as a family is thawing our dinner ahead of time. We have had more than a few ‘fast nights’ simply because we forgot to thaw the meat in time…

One thing this program has done for us is cut down our restaurant visits. We had a HUGE budget for restaurants. We were well into a thoousand dollars a month on food with about half or more of that going to restaurants. Right now, as we try to find the best way to get the food we need for the best price, we’re still up in the near thousand range for groceries. I’m hoping that with some better preparation and more research we can stick to a $500-600/mo budget for food.

Today’s questions:

How do you stick to your budget?
Where do you shop for budget meals and supplies?
Were you a good cook before going Paleo?
If not, how did you cope with prepping your own food and what simple meals did you initially rely on?

Thursday weigh in – 277lbs.

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6 thoughts on “Cooking

  1. HollyG says:

    This is the stage we’re in too.. I like salad that someone else makes for me at a restaurant more than I like my own. Although even after just a couple weeks it’s a huge difference in the amount of money saved. The meals we’re primarily relying on are things like: tacos (use lettuce instead of shells), bunless-burgers, yam chips (debatable whether they’re paleo, still healthier than restaurant fries though), butter chicken (we found a brand of the sauce that doesn’t have any questionable ingredients) and bacon/eggs/back bacon (still perfecting a paleo hollandaise though).

  2. Sara says:

    Whoops. Me again. We had to increase our budget from 300/mo to 500/mo once going primal. This doesn’t include restaurants. I shop at Aldi’s for produce and a local Safeway type store for everything else. We live in Iowa, so our pork and beef and eggs come from farmers whom we know. A chest freezer helps. Now that it is summer, we also go to the farmers market. Planning ahead is key!! On Sundays we plan out what is for dinner for the week. I am a weird person who likes cooking. 🙂 but, with a 6 month old, someone has to entertain her while I cook, so it is tricky. Now our go-to-time crunch meal is a whole roasted chicken already cooked from the grocery store and green beans or asparagus or something. Always make sure you have fruits & nuts & veggies to snack on. I do a lot of washing/cutting of fruits/veggies when I come home from the store. I just wrote a novel. Keep up the great work. Joy! Sara

  3. kali says:

    HI Jared. I don’t know you, but I like your blog. I started the whole 30 with Erin and the mums group. I am a single parent with a very limited budget, but I have found that eating Paleo has actually reduced my grocery budget dramatically. I plan out a meal for the week on thursdays, and shop on fridays. The menu is pretty fluid, I just try to buy enough meat for meals I know I will make, and usually go twice per week for veggies, although most of our produce is coming from the garden! I do have a deep freezer. so often will buy meat at costco when they have organic/grain fed. Buying bulk really helps with the budget, if you have the freezer space. On Sundays I usually make a large quantity of meat, typically it’s grilled chicken, or crockpot chickem/beef, that is shredded for salads. I also typically have steamed kale/swiss chard or brocolli for breakfast and usually make enough for multiple meals throughout the day. It saves on dishes and stress! I generally love cooking, but going paleo has made some things really stressful, especially with a 2 yr old and 10mos old! I try to plan everything, and always have washed and sliced veggies (carrots, peppers, cucumbers etc.) on hand for a quick snack for myself and the kids. I have also made a whole 30 approved trail mix and keep that in the pantry for quick energy. The trick for me is to take the time to see what we have in the house, and make very detailed shopping lists so I am not impulsive at the grocery store and come home with a bunch of food that I don’t know how to cook to fit the guidelines. SO far my meals are supper simple, and it’s working well. But I think over time I am going to need to adapt more recipes or find new foods. Happy Eating to you! And congratulations on your success so far.

  4. mama potato says:

    I don’t know what recipes you’re using, but baking/grilling some meat and serving it with a side salad isn’t that complicated. Even steaming or roasting veg alongside the meat doesn’t have to be a timing conundrum. Meats taste better when they “rest” for 5-20 minutes before eating (depending on the meat) so there’s a little free play at the end of the cooking process to finish off the veg.

    Sadly, cooking our own food is a dying skill. Before microwaves, kids were taught much earlier how to prepare and cook common meals. And theres a modern misconception that every meal must be a party in your mouth AND be served up with restaurant presentation. It was not like this a generation or two ago. You ate what you could find/grow/kill/afford….and often it was boring and repetitive. Meals were simple and satisfying.

    I think there is virtue in the simple meal. You know exactly what you’re eating, and can give each ingredient a little extra attention to make it spectacular. (cooking in butter and finishing with butter make just about everything better) You pay $25 for a steak dinner at a fancy steakhouse and its just a hunk of meat, a baked potato and a pile of steamed veg scooped out of a giant vat. Beyond their house blend of steak spice, there is no mystery.

    Have you heard of Pioneer Woman? her blog is full of downhome ranch food…lots of meat. And every recipe comes with step by step photos from gathering the ingredients, to how to chop/prepare them, to the assembly, and the cooking process. And uses tons of butter. Ignore the non-primal foods and go straight to the meat dishes and salads. Here’s how she cooks a steak: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/05/how_to_cook_a_s/

  5. […] very lucky to have a wife that works harder at this than I do… because I can’t cook worth a damn. She is the reason this is working for me. It was working fast, too. My clothes were already […]

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