I recently enjoyed reading Dinner A Love Story‘s 100 rules of Dinner. I don’t write lists as a form of writing all that often so I decided to create my own food musings. They’re in no particular order, but are geared at those of us who like to cook, travel and eat in whatever order:

  1. Toast is perfectly acceptable for dinner if it is accompanied by cheese, pasta sauce or tinned soup
  2. Butter (non-dairy or whatever you choose) makes everything better. If you don’t believe me, try Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce
  3. Sriracha and a handful of chopped mushrooms make instant noodles practically gourmet
  4. Learn a really simple but tasty dish that you can cook anywhere in the world: dahl, spag bol, tofu and vegetable laksa.
  5. Don’t offer your Vegemite to people for a taste. You’ll regret it when the jar is empty and a tiny one is €5 plus posting.
  6. Buy good salt and pepper.
  7. A jar of homemade preserves or pickles is always a great thank you gift to a host, paired with some lovely fresh bread or cheese.
  8. Staying in a hotel? Don’t be that person who boils eggs in the kettle.
  9. Making your own bread is easy, especially if you whip up a no knead dough the night before.
    1. Cereal for breakfast again means you can buy another bottle of wine with the proceeds
    2. Treat yourself to one really fancy meal in each country. We had a wonderful four course meal for our wedding anniversary last year in Hamburg.
    3. Carry a small knife (obviously not on the plane), a bottle opener/corkscrew and spork for impromptu picnics.
    4. Always eschew the eateries near the tourist sites and go back a few streets to where the locals eat.
    5. Trying to deal with a small fridge and leftovers? Pastas and macaroni cheese can work really well for breakfast.
    6. Never underestimate the enjoyment of eating a homemade hamburger or veggie burger made just the way you like it.
    7. Depending on your taste preferences, have a handful of easy to make groceries in your cupboard for quick meals that can work with or without added ingredients in a pinch: pasta and tinned pesto or jarred pasta sauces, rice noodles and miso paste; rice, tinned asian vegetables and coconut milk.
    8. A great herb/spice collection expands your meal  repertoire. My quick 10: cumin, curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, paprika, lemon grass, oregano, thyme.
    9. Potted hydroponic herbs smell great in the supermarket but are impossible to keep alive if you don’t replant into a real garden.
    10. Pre-cook brown rice and store in ziplock bags pressed flat in the freezer.
    11. The idea to make your own hummus from dried chickpeas seemed great until you got around the soaking, boiling the chickpeas (they smell terrible boiling),  hulling the outer skin then blending. Just buy a tub or use tinned chickpeas instead.
    12. Two minute ramen noodles can be tempting when you’re poor but they’re full of msg and salt. Try making up your own version.
    13. The likelihood of using kitchen appliance increases if they are readily accessible.
    14. Most people in a small space cannot fit a blender, slow cooker, rice cooker, bread maker and juicer on one kitchen bench.
    15. Tempted to buy an inclusive machine? (I’m sure you can think of one). All in one equipment is great until it breaks, especially if it has to be posted somewhere far away.
    16. Decided to go without a microwave? You’ll miss it when you burn another pot or pan trying to reheat pasta or risotto.
    17. Tinned soups are always better than instant in a packet.
    18. Add fresh chopped vegetables to tinned beans or soup for a quick, cheap meal.
    19. You can never use too much garlic.
    20. Visit a local farmers/growers market and try a vegetable you’ve never eaten before. That’s how I fell in love with kohlrabi.
    21. A plate containing a really nice cheese, some cucumber, cherry tomatoes and great bread is always more interesting than a store bought sandwich.
    22. Root vegetables are always better roasted than boiled.
    23. Always carry a ziplock bag for impromptu foraging or taking away leftovers.
    24. Airbnb is way cheaper than a self catered apartment in a hotel as you typically don’t have to buy salt, spices, olive oil, sugar etc.
    25. Realistically, a packet of biscuits will almost always be cheaper than homemade.
    26. Do you drink lots of tea? Pop your used teabags in a jug of water with lemon and mint to make iced tea.
    27. Bottled lime juice is far cheaper than buying limes in most instances and works fine.
    28. Most of the time plain old white sugar works as well as icing sugar.
    29.  Buy fresh chillies when cheap and dry on string to use all year round.
    30. Puree leftover cooked vegetables with stock and herbs to make a quick soup.
    31. Self catering accommodation can mean yet another cheese sandwich as you don’t want the groceries to go to waste.
    32. Red wine, stock cubes, no-dairy spread and a pinch of flour makes a great simple red wine sauce.
    33. Good coffee and a plunger is always cheaper than buying coffee each day when you’re out.
    34. If you’ve moved to a new country and are setting up a new kitchen, make a list of 5 meals you most commonly cook each season and what you equipment you need to cook them.
    35. Garlic and onions are a happy duo.
    36. Plastic containers reduce your reliance on cling film (glad wrap).
    37. Vegetables don’t have to be peeled.
    38. You may be tempted to forgo a toaster but toast burns incredibly under the grill.
    39. Not enough big mixing bowls? A saucepan works fine in a pinch.
    40. A shelf full of interesting sauces can lift any meal. We like: Sriracha and hot sauces, barbecue sauce, liquid smoke, mushroom sauce, mustard, asian rice wine.
    41. Treating yourself to a great meal out? Opt for something you can’t cook at home.