Ideas and Ingredients to Fire Up Your Kitchen Creativity
From Nailed it! on Netflix to Bake Off on Ch 4, and all the ‘food porn’ online, it seems you can’t blink these days without seeing some kind of cooking content. This is all well and good, but most of these recipes can look pretty intimidating to tackle by yourself. And who has a cupboard full of quinoa and tahini paste?
The thing is, rustling up snacks or dinners isn’t as difficult (or as expensive) as you might think. In fact, you can whip up some great dishes for under a fiver in the time it takes to watch an episode of Friends. And seeing as it’s National Cooking Day today, now’s as good a time as any to get cracking in the kitchen.
A good place to start if you’re on a budget and just beginning to get your cook on, is this Tasty Tips website. It was started by a team of NCS grads as part of their social action project this summer! On their website, you'll not only find simple, tasty recipes – like delicious veggie bean burgers for two quid or perfect Penne Pasta Arrabiata for a fiver – but healthy eating and hygiene help too. It’s got everything you need to start mastering meal times.
The basic ingredients behind brilliant meals
Before you begin though, here’s five ingredients we think it’s always useful to have around the house. Well, in the kitchen anyway.
From cakes and carbonara to cookie dough and custard, these perfectly formed crackable cases of protein are the basis of more exceptional eating than almost anything else. You can also poach, boil, scramble and fry them. Plus, omelettes!
Spaghetti Bolognese, curries, soup, harissa, in the sauce, on the side, tinned, plum, cherry, on or off the vine...they’re amongst the most versatile foodstuffs out there. Tomatoes are also the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They’re a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K too!
Now these may sound boring, but it really is time you got to know your onions. They add flavour to so many dishes it’d be easier to list the ones they’re not in. They’re also loaded with antioxidants and contain cancer-fighting compounds. A big bag costs next to nothing and lasts ages.
What can you say about these famous grains that hasn’t already been said? Well, quite a bit really. Stick to brown if you can as they have more fibre than the starchy white, but rice is also rich in minerals like calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, manganese, selenium, and copper. The vitamins in it include niacin, pantothenic acid, and thiamin. It’s a great food for if you want a gluten-free option and it has very little fat (bonus!). Obviously it goes with pretty much anything and is actually cheaper than chips.
Don’t pull that face! This chip shop condiment is the Jack (or Jill) of all trades. And never goes off. Whether you’re making salad dressing, sticky glaze for pulled-pork, coleslaw, poaching eggs or even pushing the boat out with grilled steak and caramelised onions, vinegar’s in the mix.
Ok, now you’re ready to check out some recipes on Tasty Tips, pick up some ingredients on the way home and start plating up. Good luck – and if you’re happy with your creations, share a pic or two!