One of my friends once asked me to marry him.
He wasn’t serious of course, but what prompted his question was the black bean soup I’d made for lunch and reheated in the office microwave.
He had bought lunch from some fish and chip joint, and all the greasy goodness had made him feel quite lethargic. So rather than get back to work, he decided to corner me with questions about how much money it must be costing me to cook meals EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I explained that I can shop for a week’s worth of food, and three weeks worth of cooking staples for just over a hundred bucks. That includes things like fruit or cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and full dinners. I asked what he spent for a week’s worth of takeout. He mumbled something in response.
What he did verbalize was a lament about only having the same limited choices when eating out: pizza, fried chicken, burgers, subs…you get the idea.
So I asked him what kind of stuff he LIKED to eat. Meals he maybe hadn’t had in a while…pick anything.
He told me about a stew his mom used to make. He really liked tacos. I lent him a cookbook and he also picked out a pasta dish, a stir fry, and meatloaf.
I challenged him to make those five meals for himself. And pledged to be there for moral support.
I copied the five recipes for him, and went over how they’re made. Truth be told they’re all quite simple. We made a list of all the ingredients he’d need, and I took him to the grocery store for supplies.
The first night I got a call. How thick is the stew supposed to be? I explained that’s up to the chef. If you like it thick, let it simmer. If I gets too thick, add a little water.
“Really, I can do that?”
“You’re the chef, you can have it any way you like.”
The leftovers appeared the next day. And he was proud, showing off his creation to the ladies in the office. They were proud too.
That night was taco night. No phone call.
Pasta night sparked a semi-frantic ring. He forgot to buy mushrooms.
“What else is in the fridge?”
“Uhh… carrots, celery, peppers…”
“Just chop some peppers and throw them in.”
“But the recipe says mushrooms.”
“It’s called improvising. You could use canned mushrooms too.”
After a week my friend was pretty impressed with himself. He’d fended for himself for 7 days, hadn’t gone hungry, and had just realized his food options were not limited to the Yellow Pages.
I got him a cookbook for his birthday. As he’s learning, there are definitely more pages to pick from than he thought.