Quick Fix Kitchen: How I Started

10:39 PM

Every time someone asks me if I cook regularly, and I reply with "almost every meal" I get the same reaction that's difficult for me to put into words. Truth to be told, I'm no Hermione in the kitchen and I've only started cooking just a few months before I got married. Granted that I have a lot more time to be in the kitchen since I work from home, but that doesn't mean I slave my time away on this beautiful marble island counter (I'm gonna miss this one once we move out) all day long. Since point8cam and I moved in together, I've come up with ways to make sure I have things I need to make simple meals for two. It's more difficult to cook for two than for an entire family as the portions are a little tricky. Somehow I always end up with leftovers. A friend asked me to help her out, as she was also starting to cook more at home than eating out. As a young couple, we're lucky that there are little mouths to feed (and hopefully with a less picky partner) so we try to eat at home most of the time unless we have to be out. 

I love trying out new recipes but that does not mean that I have to buy every single ingredients from scratch. There is absolutely no point for you to cook from scratch for such a small portion. Be smart, and at times give in to ready made pastes and such. So I've sort of formulated a list of things you need to have in your kitchen as starters, so you can cook a lot of different meals using the same ingredients over and over. Once you've mastered the basics, feel free to explore other types of ingredients for other meals. The purpose of this post is not to tell you what to do, but I'm writing it down based on my own personal experience and guide as to start cooking more at home, even with a busy schedule. 

Pantry Staples (2-3 months rotation)

- Black Pepper & White Pepper
- Salt (table or sea salt)
- Dried herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, Oregano)
- Seasoning (seafood, vegetable, chicken)
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic and Ginger powder
- Olive Oil (or vegetable oil)
- Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco or any hot sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Soy Sauce (Dark & Light or either one)
- Sweet Soy Sauce
- Flour
- Corn Starch
- Ketchup
- Dried Chilli
- Nutmeg (optional)
- Tortilla 
- Garlic and Onions/ Shallots
- Turmeric powder
- Honey
- Sesame Seed

Fridge Staples (2 weeks - Monthly rotation)

- 2 Lemons
- Cooking butter
- Cooking Cream/ Heavy Cream
- Milk
- Ground chilli
- Cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar)
- Miso paste
- Mayonnaise
- Salad Dressing of choice
- Sambal Belacan (fermented shrimp paste)
- Eggs

Fresh Produce (weekly)

- Chicken (wings, thighs/ drumsticks, breast)
- Beef (steak/ stir-fry cut)
- Fish (salmon, white flesh fish)
- Seafood (optional; squid or shrimp)
- Vegetables (swiss brown mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, kailan, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, french beans, salad of choice)
- Russet potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Canned/ Packed Goods 

- Corned beef
- Sardines in olive oil
- Rice
- Cream of mushroom soup, mushroom and potage
- Cooking pastes: Brahims pastes are amazing, although you need some tweaking with the ingredients mentioned above. If you can find these Lizar pastes, they're gold. I even buy the sambal belacan for my daily use. 

My Weekly Meal Samples (standard Asian meals)


(Lunch) - Miso/ Salt grilled salmon + Rice/ Japanese rice + beans or broccoli boiled or cooked in chopped garlic and butter.

(Dinner) - Fried Turmeric Chicken (turmeric and salt dry rub) + Rice + Spinach soup (spinach, garlic, water, salt/seasoning) + sambal belacan.



(Lunch) - Chicken wings + oven cooked russet potatoes + oven cooked sliced zucchini 

(Dinner) - Stir fried beef and beans + Rice 



(Lunch) - Calamari/ Shrimp Stir Fry + Rice OR Oven broiled White fish + Vegetables

(Dinner) - Chicken soup (garlic, chicken, potatoes, carrots, salt/ seasoning) + rice + sambal belacan OR Chicken dish with instant paste (curry, masak merah, percik)



(Lunch) - Leftover chicken soup OR asian style stir-fried beef + Rice

(Dinner) - Pasta; tomato, olive oil or cream based with smoked salmon  or sliced chicken breast.



(Lunch) - Grilled chicken breast wrap in tortilla, with grilled zucchini, tomatoes etc OR Olio Style Pasta

(Dinner) - Eat out/ Order In OR Oven roasted chicken



(Lunch) - Baked eggs and toasted bread

(Dinner) - Steak (Salt & Pepper, garlic powder rub, pan fried in butter + herbs) with potatoes and grilled vegetables.



(Lunch) - Eat out, buy groceries.

(Dinner) - Asian style wings or chicken and vege + rice

If you're unable to cook for lunch as you're in the office, the lunch options could also be your dinner options. I find that Asian stir-fry style of cooking to be simple for any time of the day and the ingredients are mostly rotated based on the basic pantry staples (e.g Kung Pow, Honey Sesame). Rasa Malaysia's websites have great Asian recipes and so far, they hardly go wrong.

I hope this would help you as a guide to cook more at home, if there are any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comment box below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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