Home cooking beats dining out

IMG_20150401_092315803_HDRFor me, home-cooked meals are more nutritious, economical and fun than dining in a restaurant.

The average American spends $2,850 a year, or $237.50 a month, on restaurant meals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Betsy and I together spend  an average of $62 a month.

Restaurants often make me feel ill at ease. Menus mystify me. I don’t like the status differential between waiter and diner, and I get nervous when deciding what to order. And after I’ve spent $20, or $50, on a restaurant meal, I’m not sure what I have to show for it.

I prefer to go to restaurants as part of a social occasion. I have friends who enjoy going out to eat, and when I join them I often have a good time. But I prefer home cooking, and if the point of dining out is to get out of the house, I prefer the library.

If you enjoy cooking as much as I do, why deprive yourself of the pleasure? Preparing old standards, like the dish in the photo above, is satisfying for me. We call it Bean Glop (or Bean Supreme, if we’re feeling grand) and the recipe is below. Actually, it’s an anti-recipe. It didn’t come from a book or the Internet (I made it up) and you don’t have to be precise with the measurements.

I like making meals out of what’s available and I hate wasting food. Last year I discovered that if you make a list of the ingredients you want to use and feed them into the Internet, you can find lots of recipes. I’ve made pumpkin pudding, celery soup and applesauce muffins that way. It’s a great way to use leftovers.

My old standbys are homemade bread, split pea soup and tomato soup. I make each in quantity and store them in the freezer. For breakfast I have bread with an egg, orange juice and tea. For lunch I alternate between pea soup with a peanut butter sandwich and tomato soup with a  hummus or cheese sandwich, plus a banana and granola. I usually eat these meals alone, but Betsy and I almost always eat dinner together.

When I was working, I brought a bag lunch of soup in a thermos, sandwich and banana, and eat them while reading the Boston Globe. I didn’t want to miss phone calls, and often got interrupted by one. To get out of the office, I took short walks several times a day.

Now that I’m retired, I have more time to spend in the kitchen. It’s always an adventure!

BEAN GLOP (BEAN SUPREME)

IMG_20150401_083549797I start by putting a quart of our canned backyard tomatoes into a pan, add a 6-oz can of tomato paste, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer and thicken.

IMG_20150401_083540275Meanwhile, I put cooked or leftover rice (sometimes quinoa, sometimes rice mixed with kasha) at the bottom of an oiled baking dish. I chop and saute an onion in olive oil, sometimes adding green or hot peppers. I add a 16-oz can of black beans, or 2 cups of beans that Betsy has cooked and frozen. I add salt, pepper and a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and stir frequently.

While that’s cooking, I grate about a half pound of Monterey Jack cheese. I layer the bean mixture, the cheese and the tomato sauce over the rice. I cook it for 30 to 45 minutes at 350 or 375 degrees.

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One thought on “Home cooking beats dining out

  1. Pingback: A simple living index | Adventures in the good life

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