This post has no pictures. Just a personal story.
I was a really, really picky eater growing up. It seemed like all I really liked eating was porridge with salty fish, salty olives, or salty eggs. I barely touched school lunches until I was in high school. But slowly, over time, partly from going to college and partly from my little sister telling me how much she loved certain foods, I started to expand my tastes.
I ended up gaining 30 pounds during my first semester of college. That's right, I quadrupled the Freshman 15.
At the time, I hated cooking. Hated having to come up with meals, hated going to the grocery store, hated the prep work involved, hated the way my own food tasted, and hated the cleanup that went along with it. Not to mention I was absolutely terrible at it. My mom might have tried to teach me how to cook a few times during high school. I distinctly remember trying to make stir fried cabbage. My mom insisted on turning the heat up to high and dumping all of the cabbage into the pan even though it barely fit. It was a mess.
I couldn't even cook easy things. I burned my leg once in high school while making eggs. I had put oil in the pan and when I cracked the egg in it, the oil splattered and a huge piece of it hit my upper leg. It created a scar that lasted for about two years.
Throughout college, I got used to eating out all the time. Yeah, it was expensive, but it felt justified. At one point, I figured I would just make enough money so I'd never have to cook again. But after two years of living in a dorm, I moved to an apartment, and I figured I'd try to be more of an adult.
I lost all the weight I had gained as a freshman after a year of living in an apartment. I attribute part of that to running everyday. I also attribute that to the fact that I was cooking for myself. Honestly, it was a struggle. I cooked so many meals and felt so dejected so many times because my food was awful.
Because cooking was such a struggle, I went back to eating out more. I got a decent paying job right out of college, so I figured I had the money for it. But then something happened that has nothing to do with food at all. I got bored at work. I got so bored that I had an existential crisis sitting in my cubicle wondering if my life was going to be like this for the next 40 years.
No. No it wasn't. I refused. I started saving up money and making it my life goal to retire as early as possible. But that meant I needed to stop eating out so much and I needed to start cooking meals again.
While browsing through early retirement forums, I stumbled across Budget Bytes, which is a food blog focused around making easy, cheap meals. I tried one recipe and it changed. my. life. Holy crap, I can actually cook things that taste good.
Eventually, I hit a point where I was consistently getting disappointed at restaurants because it was never as good as the food I made myself. I had a complete 180 shift from where I was in college.
At the time of writing this, it's been about five years since that first delicious meal that I made. I've gotten better at cooking since then, but I still have so so much more to learn. What started out as a way to save money has transformed into both a passion of mine and a forever project.