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HomeCookingThe secret to stress-free cooking at home

The secret to stress-free cooking at home

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I’ve collected fortune cookie inserts for years and keep them stuck to the side of my fridge as small reminders of hope. Most are vague promises of good luck and prosperity, but some stand out, like the one from 2020 after my Dad’s cancer diagnosis telling me to “expect a miracle”.

I see them as tiny life rafts that offer temporary relief when I’m drowning in a sea of unknowns. I turn to them for reassurance on everything from looming existential questions to minor logistical ones like what’s for dinner.

The irony isn’t lost on me that each one is both a symbol of my predicted fate and an accidental diary of our eating habits. They’re the perfect paper trail to document some of the times we relied on takeout. I write the dates on each one and looking at them is like peering into a weird time capsule of all the hurried nights when cooking felt laughable.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not against eating out. If you’re reading this on Friday, there’s a dang good chance we’ll grab food on the go at some point this weekend. Like most families, cooking competes with deadlines, carpool lines, and the constant ping of notifications demanding our attention. We prefer cooking at home, but sometimes paying for someone else to do it is the best option.

According to a US Foods survey, 75% of people dine out because they simply don’t feel like cooking, while 51% say “convenience” is the main reason they order food. The survey found that the average person eats out or orders delivery almost 8 times a month and 54% were willing to wait up to 30 minutes or more for their food.

Cooking fatigue is understandable, but affordability likely shapes our view of convenience more than time. Price drives demand and the allure of cheap eats influences decision-making. Fast food chains have spent decades promoting cheap prices through dollar menus and value deals, but now the affordable option is less clear.

Their “low prices”, propped up by hidden costs and questionable labor practices, are starting to crumble under the weight of inflation. In 2023, half of Americans spent less than $20 per person dining out. Today, that same $20 bill barely covers a burger and fries. Fast food prices rose 29% over the last 4 years and have consistently outpaced full-service restaurants and grocery stores.

Lower-income families who rely on affordable fast food options have had to adjust their budgets and eating habits. Meanwhile, folks with more flexibility in their budgets are facing a culinary dilemma as cheap convenience is fading.

The thing is, we’re busy and tired from juggling a million things, so convenience will always factor into our food choices. Now, higher costs force us to weigh convenience against the toll on our budgets and the nagging knowledge that it’s not doing our bodies any favors.

As the price tag creeps higher, we have to ask ourselves: is it really worth it? Are we willing to sacrifice our health and budgets to convince ourselves we’re saving time instead of just borrowing it? This isn’t about guilt or blame. It’s about understanding our choices and taking ownership of the results. And in an expensive world with limited time, it means getting creative with home cooking again.

This week on the rich & REGULAR podcast, we’re discussing kitchen tech and 5 tools that can help you take some of the stress out of cooking at home. We’ve always believed the trade-off between mediocre food and financial strain is a false choice that none of us should have to swallow. Good food shouldn’t be limited to special occasions or experts, it’s something everyone should be able to enjoy daily.

The tools we cover in this week’s episode aren’t just gimmicky gadgets that take up space, they’re an alternative to two bad options. They make good food more accessible. They’re equalizers and culinary cheat codes that help home cooks create something truly delicious.

Imagine a perfectly cooked, restaurant-quality steak, any night of the week, in your own kitchen for a fraction of the price. The sous vide is a device that makes this possible by eliminating the fear of undercooking or overcooking.

Let’s be real, cooking at home can feel like a battleground. The pressure of timelines, constant monitoring, and threats of smoke alarms have many of us swearing off homemade meals. That’s where sous vide steps in like a culinary therapist, offering a path to cooking zen.

With sous vide, you set the temperature and let the device do the work. The gentle, controlled heat prevents overcooking, even if you leave the food in longer than planned. Once you set the temperature and drop your vacuum-sealed food in the water bath, you are free to walk away.

As you do the laundry, doomscroll, or contemplate life’s big questions, something interesting is happening in the water bath. Because sous vide uses lower, more precise temperatures than other cooking methods, it prevents your food from drying out or losing its natural juices and texture. Tough cuts of meat become tender, fish stays moist and delicate, and vegetables remain colorful and fresh-tasting. It’s like a spa day for your dinner, leaving it relaxed before a quick sear in a hot pan to finish it off.

Great technology makes expertise less necessary, and upgrading your kitchen tools is like having a squad of sous chefs in your kitchen. We live in a world of constant deadlines and unpredictable demands, and it’s a rare opportunity to bask in the relief of simply setting a temperature and getting perfection, again and again, in return.

With tools like the sous vide cooker, there’s no more hovering over the stove or frantic stabbing with a meat thermometer. The machine hums quietly in teh background, creating a soothing backdrop to one of the most persistent acts of self-care: a nutritious meal at home

Feel free to use kitchen tech like I’ve used those fortune cookie inserts on my fridge – as small reminders that solutions exist for life’s daily problems and that things will work out in the end.

To learn how you can eat well at home without a Michelin star and reclaim the joy of cooking without the stress of failure, listen to episode 158 or watch it on YouTube below.

The post The secret to stress-free cooking at home appeared first on rich & REGULAR.

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