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Ask HN: What Skills to Acquire in 2020?
930 points by xcoding 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 862 comments
What are some skills (technical or not) you think someone should consider acquiring in 2020?



Some suggestions:

- Build something. A new workbench for your office. Fix up an old car. Build a pull-up bar in your garage. Use your hands, cut some wood and metal, and treat yourself to a new tool or two. Do this with every project and you will have a nice tool collection before you know it.

- Learn to take pictures on a manual camera. You can do this with a modern automatic camera if it has a manual mode. Learn about ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed and the interplay of those three variables. There's a fantastic multi-part tutorial on Reddit that can help you learn these things. I don't have the link handy but you can Google for it.

- Set a goal of cooking for yourself at least two nights a week and eating leftovers two nights a week. Buy a binder and some clear inserts and start to put together your own book of favorite recipes.

- Take a nightly walk.

- Listen to classical music. This one didn't come to me until my 40s but I finally realized: there's a reason that this music has been popular for 300 years. Opera is great, too. Listen to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro". Download the KUSC app and listen to the amazing Metropolitan Opera broadcast every Saturday morning at 10 AM Pacific.


What blows my mind is how much I took my ability to cook for granted. So many people my age (millennial) can barely cook anything. I have friends who eat out every single meal of every single day. People give me weird looks when every single workday I have the same answer to “you wanna go out and get some lunch?” “Nope. I have leftovers!”


I used to eat out almost every meal as well. It wasn't because I didn't know how to cook, and I even like cooking. The economics (monetary and time) just didn't work out for one person. I can't buy in bulk (at least not fresh produce) because there is only one of me, so the cost is about the same as eating out. It also takes me a while to cook, clean etc, which takes more time than just eating out some where or getting takeout.

However, when I'm in a relationship, we tend to cook a lot more. The economics works out better, lower incremental cost of 2 vs 1 at home but double the cost (nearly) eating out. Also with 2 people cooking / cleaning, the time it takes for 1 person reduces quite a bit.


I love cooking and have recently become obsessed with it, but doing it well is extremely time consuming. The best equipment is all meant to be washed by hand (knives, aluminum baking sheets, cast iron and stainless steel skillets, etc.) and cleaning all this easily takes over an hour per meal, never mind the time to actually cook the meal (which, depending on what I’m cooking takes 1-4 hours of active prep time). Also, finding high quality ingredients requires planning and trips to farmers markets. I could save a bunch of time and money by buying from the local grocery store and using cheap dishwasher safe products, but I’ll be dissatisfied with the end result, so I might as well eat out somewhere inexpensive then.


A few tips I learned from a professional chef that changed everything:

— Mise en place (Get everything you need prepped)

— Clean as you cook

Get a bunch of small glass dishes and get all the ingredients you need measured, chopped and placed into those dishes. This will make combining them effortless when cooking.

If you've done prep, you'll have some down time while cooking. As you finish using pans and utensils wash them and put them away. By the time you're done cooking you'll also be almost done cleaning—save the pan that needs to soak a bit in the sink.


It took a short culinary program to really drill those into my head, but they are game changers for sure. Now I get a bit anxious when my “station” isn’t tidy, like I’m disappointing the chef. The other habit drilled out of me was watching food cook...very few things require constant attention and that’s all time that should be spent on prep and cleaning.

I use stainless steel mixing bowls, lighter and cheaper than glass and they stack really well. A large cutting board (24x18) helps you work clean.


I've found that listening to stovetop food sizzle will usually tell you what's going on. I imagine I'm generally hearing the amount of water left in the food?

But curious about any other approaches to "No look" you have!


As Alton Brown says "If its not sizzling, its burning"


Prep is like 90% of the work when it comes to cooking. Putting it all together on some heat for a specific amount of time is the easy part!


Also sharpen your knife before prepping. Night and day :)


I've lived by this advice for years and I can attest to the benefits.


Xcelerate says >"The best equipment is all meant to be washed by hand (knives, aluminum baking sheets, cast iron and stainless steel skillets"<

Toss the cast iron and stainless steel skillets and buy nonstick skillets, cheap or expensive. When they wear out, replace them.

I've gone through more than two sets of cast iron cookware trying to "season" them properly. "Seasoning cast iron" never works, either consistently or well. It is little more than marketing horseshit the iron cookware industry feeds to foodies who cannot resist the perfect skillet they imagine exists on the far side of the hill.


> Toss the cast iron

Blasphemy! (As someone raised in the southern US)

In all seriousness, the biggest difference I've found in properly keeping up cast iron is using the right cleaning method.

Water. Or just a bit of highly-diluted dish soap.

I know there's ways to do proper coating (oven clean, etc), but most of the time I just hot fire mine on a gas burner with some oil. Works fine.

Also, there's no way in hell I'd cook cast iron on an electric top. (though I don't have experience with induction)

And finally... cook things with more fat. Bacon in the pan frequently goes a long way towards making it happy.


My experience is completely opposite.

I ditched my (expensive) non-stick pans two years ago and bought a decent stainless steel pan and a cast iron pan (since then I've also upgraded to SS stockpots and sauce pans).

This was the best thing I've done in the kitchen. My cast iron pan is the best pan I've ever used and is as non-stick as any "non-stick" pan I have used. I cook pancakes, omelets, and fried eggs without any sticking and minimal oil. It is may daily cooker.

My stainless is okay for things like omelets and fried eggs but it takes more skill and understanding of the pan and I still sometimes end up with lots of sticking. But for things like meats, pan sauces, or grilled cheeses I love it.

My advice to any home-cook is to ditch the non-stick pans, buy a cheap 12" cast-iron pan, and a decent SS pan and watch a few videos about using them (e.g., SS pans needs to be heated to the point where the Leidenfrost effect occurs). These two things can transform your cooking and open a world of high-temp searing, pan sauces, and stainless steel tools (I can't stand using plastic spatulas any more, like when I use my teflon coated griddle).

Also, keep Barkeepers Friend on hand for cleaning SS pans (otherwise life is hard)


I completely agree that a proper nonstick pans is easier to clean and sticks less, but cast iron has an incredibly high specific heat (and thermal mass) that makes searing food a breeze, and till recent years consumer grade nonstick pans couldn't even take the heat needed to do so.

Tangential anecdote: For a few years in college I had a single cast iron skillet as my only pot or pan. It's all you need to make tacos, soup, noodles, bread, shepherds pie, or a host of other things. Being deep enough to hold a few servings of food for a couple people and being able to go in the oven go a long ways toward its versatility.


What do you think the ‘somewhere inexpensive’ restaurant uses for ingredients and equipment?


The main problem with restaurants is the shitty vegetable oils they use. It's horrible for you. Unless they're a REALLY high end restaurant, they're using junk industrial seed oils for all of their cooking. That stuff is what causes obesity and heart disease. At home you can cook with butter, olive oil, etc. But I guarantee, most restaurants do not cook with high quality fats.


Agree 100%, the #1 reason I should cook at home more where I always use butter, coconut oil etc. Either need to do big cook ups of extra tasty food and pack lots of meals, or find more real simple meals to whip up quickly.


I have heard this a couple of places. Can you elaborate on why it's so bad and share a source or two.


A restaurant benefits from the economy of scale --- preparing food for a lot of people amortizes the effort spent on upkeep and $ on equipment. Also there's a team, vs. just yourself when you cook yourself, and specialization increases efficiency too. As for ingredients, well, YMMV; personally I frequent quite a few 'somewhere inexpensive' restaurants that minimally process quality ingredients.


Yeah, besides chain restaurants (which probably use a bunch of prepackaged, microwaved stuff), most places stock their kitchen with pretty fresh ingredients. Probably from a big restaurant retailer like Sysco or Restaurant Depot, but I doubt it's worse than what you can get at a grocery store.


Cooking for myself became easier when I started using rice/quinoa/beans + meat with vegetables. The first part is a single pot, and can usually be made in large enough quantity to last most of the week (via reheating or reuse, like old rice into fried rice). The second part can also be done in a single pot. And I have found that vegetables last far enough into the week that usually one trip covers me. To handle running out, make stews and other freezable things for the end of the week (or to mix things up earlier in the week) and store in single-serving portions.


I had periods of doing something similar too. Make a pot of stew / curry / jambalaya with rice, eat with some salad.

Advantage of stew / curry is they can be frozen and later thawed and reheated. Over time though it got really monotonous for me. I like good food, and importantly variety.

Feels like there is some opportunity here. A way to scale home cooking for a bunch of individuals. Like if a few people in close proximity, say in the same apartment complex, rotated responsibilities for cooking. You can get bulk savings, time savings and variety.


The real thing would be to have a freezer. Cook enough for now and freeze a cache for later. Do this quick enough and you’ll be able to stock up multiple recipes in the freezer with omit needing to cook once a week (for me, preferably). My trouble is my apartment won’t allow a freezer.


Not everything is freezer friendly though. Many seafood tastes pretty bad after being frozen and reheated. Ditto for anything that is supposed to be crispy / crunchy etc or any texture that’s not soft.


Somethings like fried foods heat up ok to great in the oven instead of microwave.


Agree. Cooking works out much better when in relationships.

I am surprised BlueApron isn't doing well as they taught me how to cook, what to get, in a relatively simple instructions.


That may be part of why they aren't doing well.

Once you know how to cook, you don't really need the training wheels any more, and the cost of their overhead is just that: extra cost.

I have a hard time imagining them beating grocery stores / delivery long-term.

Maybe if they get enough customers to get economies of scale so large they can offer meals cheaper than grocery stores, despite their extra overhead (meal planning, recipe development, and software maintenance come to mind immediately).


I could tell this "mail order meal kit" industry was doomed when local groceries tried to hop on to the trend (selling the boxes in their stores, with very little overhead: no need to ship an insulated box across the country), and it didn't take off.


Well, if you're already at the grocery store, you probably have a shopping list and a pre-filled box isn't what you're there for.


I bought food to cook for 2 days at a time. Requires 3 visits to grocery store per week. Given your shopping list is small doesn't take that much.


Yes but then you loose the bulk discounts. Getting 2 days (for one person) worth of veggies, meat etc isn't much cheaper than eating out. Plus the time spent doing the grocery shopping 3 times a week, with the time to cook the individual portion, then cleaning up for me just wasn't worth it. Individual preference obviously, but just didn't make sense for me most of the time.


You can definitely argue on the time aspect, it is definitely much longer, but if you actually start adding tax and tip and really look at transactions, there's no way that eating out is anywhere close than food cost.


> I have friends who eat out every single meal of every single day.

I have friends who do too but it's not because they don't know how to cook, it's because they don't like to and don't wanna bother and can afford the luxury of having someone else to do it for them.


I have a suspicion this kind of living, in part, explains why so many people are miserable. I feel like removing every inconvenient thing from your life, and "having someone else do it for you" must make your ability to handle discomfort atrophy to the point where the tiniest unpleasantness feels like a catastrophe. Like muscles, your brain, your immune system, etc., we need a little discomfort / struggle once in a while to grow. Systematically removing all discomfort from our lives seems both expensive and self-destructive.


Or freeing up time spent on minor inconveniences (buying ingredients, cooking, cleaning) gives me more opportunity to deal with more major inconveniences and challenges, or anything else I want to do.

I used to cook but stopped years ago. I like having a huge variety of food options on-demand. I like being able to order delivery, do something fun and/or productive while waiting for the food, and then continue as soon as I finish eating. Or I can walk to a restaurant and get some exercise in before and after eating.

I have a small kitchen and a short attention span. I could stockpile it with dozens of fresh ingredients every day and cook from 7 different cuisines every day of the week, but it's much easier if I don't have to do that. Time is the most valuable resource in the universe, and I don't get much enjoyment from cooking, so having the privilege to eat out for every meal has made me a lot happier on average.

I don't buy the argument that removing those sorts of obstacles and inconveniences makes you depressed. Maybe in cases where physical activity is greatly reduced, but that's just a correlation and not a given. If you're self-sustaining and not mooching off of others, I think you should do whatever makes you happy, and if that includes never cooking, cleaning, or driving again, odds are you'll be happier and better-off for it. If you enjoy cooking, go for it, but if you don't and don't have to, why do something that doesn't make you happy and erases a not-insignificant proportion of your entire existence? Life has more than enough hardships and inconveniences to throw at you in other ways.


I agree. Before my burnout I used to order food every day of the week, eating while coding, etc. Taking the time to cook a simple meal is a piece of mindfulness. It helped a lot in my burnout recovery. I can highly recommend the YouTube videos of Gennaro Contaldo. Quick, easy and healthy meals. Few but high-quality ingredients is key. Parmigiano Reggiano saved my life.


Just a drizzle of olive oil


I agree with your general sentiment. However, in my anecdotal sampling of people who frequently cook vs frequently eat out, tolerance for discomfort is greater in those that frequently eat out. Especially in relation to food, where those who frequently cook almost can't tolerate food cooked by others. Further on the food front, people who cook seem to be more heavily affected by fasting, or less willing to tolerate it. (For my sampling, eating food supplement such as huel or soylent goes under the frequently eat out category)

With respect to the ancestral comment about getting confused looks when refusing to eat with someone, they likely aren't confused because you would eat food you cooked, they are confused because you don't want to spend time with them. Personally, eating out for lunch with my labmates, coworkers, friends, family, etc. is the highlight of my day.


>Especially in relation to food, where those who frequently cook almost can't tolerate food cooked by others.

OMG, this was definitely SO true of my grandma when she was alive. She would frequently go gambling and the casino gave her free food and she wouldn't eat it. She'd claim she didn't like it, all of it, couldn't stomach it, not even a bite. So she'd pack a lunch.

It kinda bothered me because as far as I'm concerned if food is free as long as it's not rotten/unsanitary or meat (I'm a vegetarian) and I'm hungry, I'll happily eat it, even if it doesn't taste good.

(The casino's food is/was just fine, btw)


Food biz is a low margins cut throat affair, quality is not something that is easy to get.

"Just fine" is very low bar, my mom is an excellent chef, to get the same tastiness and attention to detail you have to pay quite a lot of money. Even eating her sandwiches on the go can be better than a high end fast food stall.


> where those who frequently cook almost can't tolerate food cooked by others.

I suspect this is because people have a small repertoire of food which is largely designed specifically for their palette. I know that I have a very strong preference for the way I cook foods. But I also can't handle certain foods, notably olives, mushrooms, and raw tomatoes.

> Further on the food front, people who cook seem to be more heavily affected by fasting, or less willing to tolerate it.

This has not been my experience, but N=1 because I'm the only person I know who regularly fasts. I'm fine cooking for others while fasting too.


Another N=1. My (horrendously self-destructive) MO is usually to:

1. Fast all day out of laziness: no food in the house, in the middle of something, one more thing, etc. etc.

2. Get incredibly hungry all of the sudden

3. Optionally push through for a couple more hours upon which my hunger subsides somewhat

4. Desperately need food, upon which I order out or walk down the street for something

I end up eating 1-2 meals a day, and while many tell me I'm basically doing an awesome job at intermittent fasting, it doesn't feel that way.

I'm trying to cook more.


You just described pretty much every day of my life for the past 8 years.

I think there's nothing wrong with this. (Though of course I'm biased.) The intermittent fasting seems to benefit my concentration and energy, even if the fasting happens to be unintentional and due to distraction or laziness. The only externality is if you end up eating a lot right before sleeping, which tends to impact my sleep and digestion. As long as you avoid that and are getting enough calories and nutrition, I don't see the issue.


Yeah, unfortunately, I do that externality a lot: scarfing food before bed to the point that I either stay up, or feel crappy in the morning

I'm working on it


But without the hunger pain how does one know it's time to stop working?!


I think a lot of people frequently cook 1. because they know what really tasty food is made off 2. They know is cheaper/they are trying to save.


Yes, there are reasons people cook. My point was more to provide a defense on specific issues related to not cooking, particularly the idea that it makes one weak willed.

I would assert that most people who eat out regularly have spent some time amount of cooking for themselves (once again anecdotal) and are not just ignorant of the concept of cooking. Their cost calculus weights time, socializing, and mental load greater than their refined taste preferences and the cost saving. I really doubt anyone who is over the age of 20 hasn't cooked a cycle of meals for themselves.


We are becoming one trick ponies, only defined by the work that we do. There is something about cooking, doing things with your hands that is fundamental to the human experience. I cook, but I also like to order in, sometimes I just microwave stuff. It depends on your mood.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."


To anyone who hasn't previously encountered this beautiful quotation, its originator is Robert Heinlein.


Working my way down that list!


I suggest reordering some of the items.


This, so much. Saying this in earnest, I've stopped tying my identity with my work and it feels liberating. I'm not bothered by people who think I "can do so much more". May be but I'm happier.


I have thought about this a lot while cooking, and I also think it comes down to the fact that cooking is both very creative but also very destructive (fire, oil, cutting, smashing, boiling, melting! such fun).

It satisfies those two core urges we all have to some degree.


True that, some might argue it is a primal urge.


> There is something about cooking, doing things with your hands that is fundamental to the human experience.

I agree that doing more has plenty of avantage, but is there something specifically about cooking?

Have you ever sew piece of clothes that you regularly wear? Most people never did... yet for something that will be used for hundreds of hours, we pay 20$+ for it instead of taking a few hours to do it. Why are we arguing about cooking ourself but not sewing our own clothes?

Cooking our own food is simply a tradition that stayed with us, nothing else. It doesn't make more sense to do it ourself, than making our own clothes.


> is there something specifically about cooking?

I mean sustenance and cooking is one of the fundamental activities required to continue living. Defintely ranks higher than any other skill i.e. sewing etc. Although, still quite important to do that as well.


It's more than that.

You can live without clothes (at least in certain climates) - you can't live without eating.

It's not just tradition, it's more core to our survival.


Yes it does matter, because food is something that I put in my body, it has a direct correlation with my health. Clothes, not that much.


I am also skeptical of "optimizing" every part of our lives. Cell phones allow us to do so many things more efficiently than in the past. But what are people actually doing with that freed up time?


Scrolling hacker news...


See? What's productive about that?


I had to wait in line at a bank a few months ago (how quaint). It made me realise how little 'off' time we have compared to my parents' generation. It was peaceful.

Sure, websites and phones save us so much time but there's always another thing to do. If we're not doing something we are wasting time aren't we? The opportunity cost gets higher every time technology becomes more efficient. Some of us aren't even safe from the constant feed in the toilet.


>But what are people actually doing with that freed up time?

Vomiting their ideology upon strangers on the internet and watching youtube (or some other video platform).


And becoming more and more depressed, it seems.


I believe that your comment is spot-on. As one part of the population goes further and further towards living in a world where we get everything we need from a smartphone, another part of the population has figured out that this is the road to misery and is running quickly in the other direction, embracing stoicism, cold showers, and Crossfit workouts.

A podcast I listen to calls this "ordinary misery" and stresses the need to bring as much of it into our lives as we can stand.


Interesting! Please link or name the podcast, thanks.


Which podcast is that?


Sounds like you're projecting the habits of your personal circle onto the masses: most people are nowhere remotely near the point of removing every inconvenience from their lives. I don't know a lot of miserable rich people either.


Yeah, seems very weird to judge someone so harshly for simply not wanting to cook and then go on to accuse them of being miserable. I mean, does someone who's spouse does the shopping and cooking get the same judgement? Absolutely not! Neither do people who hire a landscaper instead of doing their own yardwork. Nor do people who drive a mile to the store instead of walking or biking there. Nor do couples who have multiple cars when one of them doesn't work (or they both work in the same direction)

Anyways, these people I'm talking about upthread still go to work everyday, do their own laundry, clean their houses, scrub their toilets, do their yardwork, do their taxes, work out regularly, run errands, and probably hundreds of other things that cause minor inconvenience. It's not like they are doing nothing but sitting on the couch poking at their phones.

It's not my kinda thing, personally. Mostly because food in general just isn't at all important to me.


To me it's just ascribing all these benefits to your little hobby horse that other people surely lack since they don't share your interests, even going so far as to hint that it's evidence of some sort of decline in society. I've seen HNers say the same thing about people who don't care how computers work to people who can't take a walk without headphones on.

Just seems a bit convenient and masturbatory.


The atrophy of personal cooking in the United States is a broad and pretty well documented phenomenon: "The percentage of daily energy consumed from home food sources and time spent in food preparation decreased significantly for all socioeconomic groups between 1965–1966 and 2007–2008" [1]

* https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/10/work-its-... * https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/05/the-s... * https://hbr.org/2017/09/the-grocery-industry-confronts-a-new... * [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3639863/


It is not about discomfort..I don’t want to waste my time on things that take up a lot of my time for very little return. Hired help for cooking, cleaning, child care, outdoor and home maintainance is pretty common. If I had spare change, I would even hire someone to drive me around. My time is important.

If I can make double or triple what a maid service charges per hour, it makes no sense to do the lower wage jobs by myself. It’s the same thing with hiring delivery services. Take amazon prime for example..When you can get caught Bay Area traffic for 40-60 mts at a time, it makes no sense to do a milk and bread run. I spend less, waste nothing, save time and eat better because I know exactly what to order and how much.

It reminds me of my childhood back in India when the corner store would deliver provisions and vegetables every weekend even without us ordering because they knew our eating habits. Same with milk man, vegetable vendor, flower girl and even the plumber/electrician who came once in 3 months for a check. There was no contract, no insurance and no order forms. It was small communities making sure there were jobs and income for all within small neighborhoods. They operated as clusters even with one billion people. Compared to that, it’s pure chaos here wrt domestic time management. I really appreciate all the services available these days. I have been american for a few decades and it wasn’t like so earlier.


How do you measure return? Not doubting your approach - just curious how you measure the return of various unrelated tasks (e.g. cooking vs. spending that time working)


Time and money.

Example: I grew up in a large joint family. In the family kitchen, everyone had a chore. Often around 20-40 mts time investment each benefited 12 people’s meals. Cooking for myself or even two people is at least one hour. My time is better spent doing other things. I would rather hire a cook.

Otoh, it’s also a timesaver and money saver if we could have a hired a cook to feed 12 people, but the family had seniors, kids, teens and working adults and stay at home moms. It was also a way for our grandmother to teach us family recipes and chores. That was invaluable. We also learnt time management, budgeting and cooking informally. Those are life lessons. Priceless. Now this..As an adult in a nuclear family, it’s a drain on my time. And time is money too. Ditto with driving.

Example: it costs $6.99 for A2 milk from Whole Foods delivered free. $5 tip for $40 worth of deliveries. The cheapest A2 milk in a store is 9.99/three cartons at Costco. That’s one hour shopping+driving plus gas. And I can’t buy in small quantities. I can’t manage groceries on a week to week basis. Net net, the seemingly more expensive option is the cheapest one.

Not including the carbon footprint benefit. One person delivering to ten homes on a route is better than 10 people driving to different stores to pick up milk. Time. The arrow of time goes in only one direction. Can’t reverse time and hence it has become more valuable. Take communal time and communal value for money too.

If I were a mom dropping off my kids at two different schools, that time shopping and driving for milk runs is better spent as quality time with my kids. Even if it’s pure comfort factor. Kicking back and watching a movie is totally worth the money. It’s hedonism at a very small price. Discomfort is not a virtue nor is it a teachable moment.

There is a quality I’d like to call ‘slack’. It’s the stress adjustment factor. If your inner space is taut and always stretched end to end, it would snap. Makes you inflexible. Frayed. No ‘give’ to personality. That has a huge impact..esp with relationships even if it’s with yourself. Slack makes it better. Let’s you live longer and better without snapping. Avoiding discomfort is a survival skill.

Having said that, discomfort is essential to children. It is an experience and a teachable skill. Interestingly, I have been observing that we pad our younger generation’s life and make them soft by catering to their every need while parents fray and become brittle. When the kids grow up, they are never going to understand ‘discomfort’ and when it becomes unavoidable (as it goes in life) and unable to adjust, they are going to break down.

Adults need to embrace slack and pass on discomfort to the next generation. They have rightly been dubbed entitled. And we are no longer children and our time in discomfort training camp is over.


Very detailed, thank you! I like the way you think.


Cooking plus cleaning is usually a 2 hour experience. So you really need to enjoy cooking to do it or if you have no choice. Yes I see most cookers here omit cleaning which is part of the deal


This is why I used to hate cooking.

But one day I was watching Gordon Ramsey work with a home cook and the home cook was trying to keep up with Ramsey.

It was amazing because Ramsey kept his whole cooking area so clean and organized, and the home cook's area looked like a tornado passed through. At that point I had an epiphany and started trying to keep organized like Ramsey.

Pretty quickly I became very efficient and clean in the kitchen. This is a skill that takes practice and experience and is as integral to cooking as the actual cooking.

Now I think about the order I do things, the order I use my tools, tool placement, tool cleanup, and surface cleanup as I cook. The result is that very rarely do I have more than a single pan (or two) to wash after cooking, and the kitchen is usually cleaner when the meal is done than when I started.

I put this to the test, last Thanksgiving when I cooked a large meal for 5 people over the course of several hours and when I was done I did not have a single dirty dish (other than those being used for serving/eating) and my dishwasher was empty. It felt good because just a year prior I would have had a destroyed kitchen with a sink full of pots and pans and dirty counters.

I call it "kitchen craft" (like field craft) and if you work to practice it, it gets better every time you cook. And it makes cooking so much easier. For instance, making something like tortillas from scratch used to be a huge endeavor because I'd have such a big mess to cleanup afterword. It seemed daunting. Now I will make tortillas on a whim because I wan't a breakfast burrito and my kitchen will be clean before the pan is even hot enough to cook the tortillas.


Theres two approaches to solving this. If there is more than one of you, or you have kids, then the person who cooks doesn't clean. The other (more sensible approach) is once you enter the kitchen, you don't leave it until the meal is done. If a meal takes 30 minutes from prep to plate, chances are a lot of that time is waiting. Cleaning during that time is how you minimise that cost. I cook every other night (and we have leftovers in between) and we have food on the table, with everything but serving dishes within an hour from when I get home most evenings.


I find it pretty hard to get cooking down to 30 minutes of actual clock time spent working, not counting cleanup (I do a decent job of cleaning as I go anyway). Most recipes with short nominal "hands-on time" achieve it by not accounting for the prep to have all the ingredients ready, as specified in the ingredients list (dicing vegetables, grinding & mixing spices, cutting up meat, that sort of thing) and usually the shorter the nominal time the more important it is to have all that stuff ready from the start, as there's little slack to do that as you're cooking.


Yeah true but a lot of time it ain’t happening, kids too young, wife too tired, or you cooking for yourself etc. So there is always a situational thing going on unless you have a military style home rules. The best is still to enjoy it. Even when cleaning I find a way infuse joy, like having a system and always find ways to improve speed, then marvel how fast and good it was done


> we need a little discomfort / struggle once in a while to grow.

One could argue that struggle is the prerequisite to growth.


i think the term is called eustress


"The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck" goes into this at length.


My struggle is that I look at it as a time/cost relationship. I'd rather use my time more wisely because the cost of me maintaining a pantry, cooking, and cleaning for one outweighs the cost of getting takeout. It's probably an excuse more than anything but my work schedule can be irregular and makes it more difficult to plan.


This is why I have a cold shower every morning.


If I could afford it, and there were nice eateries, I would love to eat out.


I don't understand it, but I can eat the same thing at home for breakfast every day of every week for years and not get bored of it. If I ate at the same restaurant every morning, I'd be sick of it before the end of the week.


Who says you would have to eat at the same restaurant? When I was always eating out I was going to multiple restaurants. I avoided going to the same place too often so I wouldn't get bored with it.


> can afford the luxury of having someone else to do it for them.

Sure, but for my situation it works out that by cooking the majority of the time I'll be able to retire 1-2 years earlier.

Save $10 a day on food most days ~= $3000/year, over 20 years ~= $60k.

I also enjoy eating out more as it is more of 'treat' (and less of a chore to some extent).


Yes, but if we are talking strictly numbers, we have to consider opportunity cost. I do love cooking, but I can make way more than $10 in 1 or 2 hours.


I love cooking sometimes, but then again, other-times I would rather spend my time working on a client project. When you add up the time spent:

1. planning meals (may be minimal if you can ad-hoc quickly)

2. walking/driving to the grocery store

3. cooking

4. cleaning

It can easily be more expensive for an individual person (or even a couple) to cook than it is to eat out. (I think this makes intuitive sense too, since there are economies of scale and efficiencies with how restaurants are run.) If you love cooking, then you are doing it for fun---thats great! But I think for people who don't like cooking, it can be rational to eat out for most meals.

Many people are not paid at an hourly rate, so this analysis may not make sense for them.

(Also, where I live, there are plenty of healthy and cheap places to eat out at.)


If you care about it, it's easy to save money by cooking yourself with this one crazy trick: leftovers. It takes very little extra effort to make a much larger batch of whatever you're cooking. It's pretty simple to cook ~10 servings of a solid meal that costs ~$0.25 (e.g., Chana Masala w/ brown rice) each with about ~2 hours of time all in with grocery shopping + cooking + cleaning. Sure, if you're making $200+/hour and would do none of these things, it might be slightly cheaper to get delivery. But... I suspect that scenario is very uncommon.


Sure, but now you're eating the same thing for a week. I lived that way in college, it was great for saving money. Now i can afford to do a combination of delivery and blueapron style box'o'ingredients and enjoy the increased variety with less mental overhead (buying, prepping, and storing multiple servings for one has its own issues).


The trade off here is that now you're eating the same meal for 10 meals straight. Most people would rather not do that if they could afford not to.

It doesn't particularly bother me to eat the same thing everyday, but some people absolutely hate it. I am good friends with someone who absolutely refuses to eat leftovers, ever.


I think this is why the usual advice is usually 'learn a few dishes you like', not 'cook something new every day'. Once you have a few recipes nailed, you don't need to spend time planning etc, and you can work out a pattern whereby you know exactly what to buy each time you go to the store (which you'd be doing anyway) without needing to think. And for washing/cleaning up, there are dishwashers.


You need your daily excercise, going to the shop, cooking, cleaning all count towards 10k steps per day on your Fitbit.


It's not about affording it dude, I got a cook who comes and cooks for me, have a meal delivery service as well, but I also like to cook.Period. Nothing to do with luxury BS.


Funny thing about those people is they constantly complain about how expensive everything is, yet they spend frivolous amounts of money on what's probably the highest marked up item: food. Meal prep for a week for ~$75 and you're set. It would cost probably 4 times that (at least, depending on where you eat) to eat out, not to mention you don't know how it was prepared, and it's probably wildly unhealthy compared to if you just cooked it at home.

Take 2-3 hours on Sundays and cook some food. It's not hard.


Totally agree. It's so easy to overthink cooking. Take off the exec-chef-in-restaurant apron and focus on the simple stuff:

- Add salt/pepper/spices by hand if you can. Shakers/larger-volume canisters lead to over-application, but it's so easy to grab a little bit of salt, apply, taste, and do it over again until you hit the right mark

- Learn how to cook in a single pot - stews/soups/etc. Saves on cleaning, and broths packed full of nutrients

- Use a crock-pot/slow-cooker. Dead simple, very low risk, produces significant quantities of food

- Learn about portion sizing. So much of over or under cooking is applying the same technique and timing to two different quantities of food. 16 oz of steak cooks differently than 8, same for veggies. Buying the right portions consistently solves so many problems

- Given the point above, learn about an oven -- convection vs. radiant heat. Convection cooking is fast, easy, and awesome.

- Learn how to store stuff properly. You'll spend a fortune if you regularly trap your veggies in air-tight containers. Many of them don't need and are worse-off in those containers. Learn what stuff should be near or away from other vegetables. Good example: if you put your avocados and tomatoes next to your cucumbers, kiss the latter good-bye -- they'll go bad way faster due to the gas emitted by the two others

- Finally, it goes without saying -- not everyone likes what you do, so it's ok if your most exquisite dish doesn't go over perfectly with everyone.


Easy to overthink you say, yet you’ve listed a lot of quite complicated aspects, many of which aren’t directly related to cooking.


Spend a bit of time on all of them and you'll find them easy and intuitive!


Like many things!


Funny, I was just thinking how helpful these tips are compared to a lot of the advice on cooking which is repetitive.

Was not aware of the differences in veggie storage. You do have a lot more seasoning control not in a shaker and that's how it is done in a professor kitchen. Thanks!


Glad you found them helpful.

Overall, there can be nuance in all of these things, but you don't need to stress yourself with that nuance in so many cases.


A lot of this stuff can get pretty nuanced especially seasoning, and to me that makes or breaks any dish even if you're just using salt and pepper. I usually just go with what's recommended for a particular recipe... After trying a recipe a few times, I MIGHT tweak the seasoning based my or the wife's preferences. When I'm not sure what seasonings to use outside of salt/pepper, I usually just use seasoned salt.


$75 is even an exaggeration. It might be more bland, but eggs, chicken breasts, some veggies should get you through a week for < $30.


And lentils with bread -most people look down on them for some reason, unless it's a side of some sort, but I find them just beautiful as proper dinner!


With a little toasted cumin seed, turmeric, onion, garlic, and maybe some fenugreek boiled lentils are heavenly. :)


I'd love to cook and eat more lentils. They taste pretty good to me, are cheap and fairly easy to cook. My problem is, they tend (for me at least) produce a lot of undesired gas.


I have found two things improve this: the first is ensuring they are well cooked to the point of full softness. The second is freezing and rethawing seems to eliminate a lot of this issue. I've no idea why, chemically that works, but it does.


Try soaking overnight and rinsing thoroughly before cooking (if you don't already do).


Lentil soup, man. I've got a family recipe, and I've decided that if I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be that.


Sorry it just occurred to me that I was using a more specific word to refer to the family of edibles that I meant, the correct one would be "legumes" -I'd never leave things like beans or chickpeas out on purpose!


People with glucose issues will probably want to avoid the bread and go for something like brown rice (a slower carb) or a veg, but it's a good suggestions nonetheless!


$120/month for food? Sorry, but no. That is the exaggeration.

Maybe if you're scraping the bottom of the barrel in ingredient quality and buying a lot of rice and beans.


It depends what you eat. Most of my home cooked meals are just seasoned vegetables with the occasional chicken on the side, or pasta. They don't have to be bottom of the barrel ingredients, just a higher ratio of vegetables to meats.


One of the reasons people get so flustered over food is that they don't organize correctly and end up getting frustrated over the lack of ability to follow recipes easily.

Restaurant chefs have known about 'mise en place' for years. Cutting and measuring most of your ingredients before cooking makes cooking simple and easy. Yeah, there are more dishes to wash, but it makes up for the eventual headaches.


I guess I understand how many people dislike cooking, I guess. For me, it's a very creative, relaxing, rewarding, (and necessary) process in my life. For me, it's like coding, but with ingredients. Take a bunch of relatively trivial components, and combine them creatively into something complex, useful, even beautiful--inspiring. You generally follow "industry best practices", but there's plenty of room for interpretation or establishing your own patterns.


It’s like coding but with none of the frustrations. You can’t get stuck midway because you have an incompatible version of carrots. All you need is ingredients and a good repertoire of recipes to draw from.


Huh, I feel the exact opposite- it's like coding with a bunch of extra frustrations like shopping and cleaning, and the possibility of messing up in an irreversible way (burning something, for example).


Software production involves planning, gathering requirements, estimating, testing, refactoring, evaluating acceptance criteria.... not just writing code. Personally, yes, the coding is one of the more fun parts. The others are like cleaning dishes, which I hate to do above all else. But I love to cook (and I love a clean kitchen) so I put up with the rest.

But I hear you on the burning. I've burnt plenty of things in my time. I think any cook worth their salt has. Story time: an executive chef I once worked for had a keychain that looked like a pewter ingot. She said one evening as they were finishing their shift, they thought they could leave a 30 gallon pot over very low heat to make a reduction over night. When they arrived in the morning, the pot had mostly melted and the stove was on fire. Her keychain was part of the melted pot, her reminder to never do that again. Live and learn (and hopefully don't burn the house down)!


That's all part of the fun of learning to cook. I've burned so many things over the years it's almost like a game. I've made hundreds of ommlettes for breakfast and burned at least 30. Each time it was a learning experience, and it taught me to pay attention to what I'm doing and not get sidetracked trying to pack for the day or take garbage out or clean the refrigerator.


Cleaning isn't so bad if you handle it immediately and treat it as a meditative experience. I just think about whatever while washing dishes or throw on a relaxing podcast occasionally.


podcasts are my personal meth for cleaning my kitchen


Now I want to be able to git reset --hard my kitchen.


I love cooking but I’m not very good at it. I can assure you there are ways to get stuck halfway :P


Well, yes... But once compiled, you can never make a change and rebuild!


Cooking is like coding.

Baking is like quantum physics.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."


My taste is broken, once used to chef, and do cook daily still, but when you do not enjoy food - it just becomes a bind.


I cook or eat left overs 6 nights a week at this point. Beyond saving a massive amount of money it's shocking how much better the steak I make myself is than one I can get out. Most cities have kitchen equipment stores (not just Bed Bath) that actually have cooking courses you can take.

Now "home made pasta" starts with flour and eggs.


Saving massive amount of money? Judging just from demographic that uses hackernews (mostly tech workers), I think it's actually cheaper to eat out if you measure price of your time by how much money would you earn in that time while working compared to shopping for the ingredients, cooking and doing dishes.


That's an optimization that looks good in theory but is poor in practice. Evidence has proven that we consume more calories at restaurants than we do when we cook at home. There's a lot more to get out of cooking at home than nutrition, though. As others have alluded to, the experience of cooking and working with your hands is excellent (and cheap) therapy.

As for economy, you will find it once you've built up a good stock of spices and non-perishables and begin to optimize things by--for example--making chicken stock from the bones of that bird you roasted for dinner, or freezing the extra tomato paste from the can that you used 1/3 of.

This is coming from a guy who spent the first 15 years of his tech career eating out every single meal before meeting a girl, getting married, and then eating 6 of 7 weekly dinners at home.


My doctor tells me the secret to long life includes not eating out too often. Which is short for restaurants tend to cook in ways you wouldn't at home: deep fried food is much more common. They tend to use more salt than I would. Sugar is added to things that don't need it. Cheap oils instead of the better quality ones...


I hate that metric. Most people don’t earn money in their off time. So it’s just an added expense.

That said, I eat out 80%+ of the time. Because I’m lazy.


I'm a salaried employee, I don't get paid extra if I stay an hour later and get a takeaway on my way home, and I still have to pay for the takeaway. I get the idea, but you can't work 24/7


I've been there, done that. It's not worth the extra $20-30k/year to do nothing but code. Even if I had clients to fill 80 hours a week I would still only work 40. Life is too short to do nothing but earn money.


Recipe for burnout if you work those hours where you’d have cook. Unless you do other leisure activities. Burnout will cost you money


If I go to H-E-B and buy a rib eye steak for $15.99 a pound and cook it. I'm out less than $15.99, because I don't want a pound of steak. If I go to a mid range steak restaurant I'm going to get a rib-eye for $29.99 for 12 oz of steak. And it's going to be of lower grade and less seasoned. Why would I do that? Also, I'm not working all the time. Cooking is a way of relaxing.


Even if I charge $250/hour I'll still save both money and time when doing grocery shopping and meal prepping every sunday night. It's not like I'd been working on a sunday night anyway so I can't count those 5-6 hours/month spent on grocery shopping and cooking as a "loss of income".


That's not really how salaried positions work. You can't convert free time back into money, it's just gone.


There are also a lot of entrepreneurs and students on here. Not everyone is living the $200k salary life.


I've been trying to learn to cook off and on for years now and I get so discouraged all the time because I'm still either overcooking or undercooking something, still not getting the flavors right, not using the right amount of oil despite the recipe's prescription. I can't be alone in feeling that way.


It took me years of cooking every day to get to a level where I'm confident in my cooking skills. It's a lot of trial and error. Look up a recipe that looks good, and try to follow it exactly. There's no eyeballing when you are learning. There's a reason those ingredients are added in that particular order and quantity.

I've come to a point where I can whip up a recipe and improvise some, but that's after years of following recipes, experimenting and eating a fair share of disappointing meals.

Learn the fundamentals. Binging With Babish on YouTube is an excellent show to learn with its Basics With Babish series.


Want to re-emphasize, cooking is a skill that's learned by repetition.

There are methods to help. Over cooking vs undercooking is because of guesswork. Remove that by buying an Instant Read thermometer. Over and under season? Taste as you go, add more seasoning if it needs it.

Also, make sure you find a consistently good recipe. Allrecipes is a crapshoot even though it's consistently a top Google search. Another poster mentioned Kenji Lopez who tests the crap out of his recipes. I'd also recommend Alton Brown having solid but accessible recipes. America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated and Bon Apetit for when you're getting more advanced. More beginner friendly stuff like Budget Bytes tends to be less flavorful, but typically simple enough and cheap enough you don't feel bad screwing up.

Basics with Babish is decent, at least the early episodes, for helping explain and visualize some of the basic skills.

But again, it's a skill that requires practice. I've been cooking consistently for years and I still can't spin up a recipe from memory or by feel. I mostly rely on trusted recipes and maybe do my own riff if I've done something similar before.


My experience was the complete opposite. Just relax and do whatever you want, the pan is your own little canvas. If something doesn't work out, oh well, you tried and learned from it.


I know you're getting a ton of responses, but if you do see this, look up Food Wishes on youtube. Would not be an exaggeration to say it has changed my life. 5-10m videos focused on one dish, usually including quite a bit of context and instruction aimed at beginners.

Cook with stuff you like! That way even if you screw it up you're left with stuff you mostly don't mind. Can't count the number of times I've screwed up meat sauce, and ended up eating a pound of meaty-tomato slop that tasted just fine albeit wasn't recognizable as any type of dish.

Also go easy on yourself. Recognize that this is a whole skill set that people spend their whole lives cultivating (just like software). You'll start to develop an intuition.

Make sure you have the right equipment you need too. I probably spent two years thinking I couldn't make eggs, turns out my pan was warped.


+1 to foodwishes. Most of my cooking knowledge comes from those videos. One thing that's hard to get from recipes is the actual cooking techniques, e.g. how loud onions should sizzle when you saute them. Foodwishes is great for learning and entertaining as well.


I've learned the most and gotten the most bang for the buck from using Cook's Illustrated special edition magazines. For example, Skillet Dinners1[1], my copy of which is well worn. The writeups that go with the recipes really help train one's intuition about cooking. Over time, I've gotten much better at knowing when to adjust ingredients or cooking times for a given recipe.

https://shop.americastestkitchen.com/special-issues/cook-s-i...


The best part of ATK and related Cook's country is they also helpfully go in-depth about the why. This helps you understand why the steps are laid out how they are. Plus it helps they test the crap out of their recipes so even with minor variation you can get a stellar end result.

My only complaint is sometimes they are way more steps and more exspensive sets of ingredients than other recipes. But often it's worth it for vastly superior results.

That's why I liked Serious Eat's Food Lab where Kenji also breaks stuff down but in an accessible set of recipes. Similar to Alton Brown's Good Eats, also a great resource if you like understanding the chemistry going on in your cooking!


ATK is great for beginners because they test their recipes and their recipe amounts are literally the same as they used in the tests.

A lot of recipes you find online are really guestimates on the amounts, so you never get the same result as the author. People are very bad about guestimating volumes, like "about 2 tablespoons of oil" when they really used half a cup.


Heh, I run into a lot of recipes where they have you cook in a tiny amount of oil and dump the pan out a couple times but you're still supposed to be "sautéing" whatever's in the last batch. Yeah, OK. Double the initial oil, add it again after each dump since there's still none left after the first time. Or else we're not doing what you claim we're doing, recipe. Which may also be fine, but still.

Or high-heat nonstick cooking with like one teaspoon of oil in the pan, heating it to nigh-smoke before adding anything else. LOL. Or steel or cast-iron temp + fat combos that make no sense and are guaranteed to give you a bad time. Either lots and lots of recipes are nonsense on this front, requiring modification of one form or another to be reasonable, or these people have magical pans that I do not.


Weird, I've never had any problems on this front, so I'm guessing it's the latter. I use All-Clad non-stick pans.


A lot of the time I'll see recipes call for heating non-stick on a medium- or medium-high flame with so little fat in ("one teaspoon of oil" or some similarly-way-under-enough quantity) them that it only covers like 1/4 or less of the pan surface, so most of the pan is heating dry, which AFAIK is a great way to turn the coating into a gas that's fairly bad for you. Though maybe that's folk-wisdom and it's actually fine to heat a nonstick pan empty? IDK.


Learn your five basic tastes, most people don't get balance right, they can balance sweet and salty but they don't know how to balance sweet with sour and bitter with savory. Once you learn how to balance you can turn any dish into a flavorful dish. Learn your savory ingredients such as Soy Sauce, Truffles, Mushrooms, MSG, etc. Then learn your bitters, they are the hardest. If you make something too sweet balance it with lemon juice or vinegar. Too sour brown sugar, molasses. Too bitter use soy sauce.

As for overcook / undercook as other have suggested, get a good stick thermometer and use it religiously. I have cooked since I was 8 years old in a family of excellent cooks and went to culinary school and to this day I still use a thermometer.


Invest in a Thermapen instant thermometer (or less expensive Javelin) and a kitchen scale, these will make your life much easier and recipes more reproducible.

Also, can’t more highly recommend reading anything by Kenji Alt Lopez. A google of nearly any food you want to cook plus “kenji” will lead you to accurate, well explained, scientific based approach to cooking it. Or just pick up a copy of the Food Lab.


When learning to cook, order a pizza.

You're learning after-all, and learning while hungry is not a good combination. If you burn the food and then have to eat it, you're going to have a bad time, negative reinforcement, etc. Order something else, like pizza, munch on that as you learn this new skill of cooking.


I might try this more often. I'm currently trying to make a food schedule for things I know how to make every day of every week, and some of the new recipes I try are just not coming out all that well discouraging me to venture out on new recipes.


Sous vide!! Google it if you do not know what it is.


Yes, this. They are basically like magic for cooking proteins and vegetables. And the 'done' to 'overdone' margin of error can be hours instead of mere minutes.


Equipment matters, too. I thought I was cooking until I got a place with a gas stove and a great pan to match. Electric equipment just oscillates on/off at different rates and produces (un)predictably different results than modulating a constant intensity with fine control.


You might want to actually take cooking classes. Since you will learn the basics of saute, grill, heat. The right order of ingredients. Some of much of cooking is science and so much is just feel.


Don't judge yourself too harshly. Cooking requires quite a lot of intuition. Trust yourself and I promise you'll make something worth eating.


Have you tried grilling instead? I find that the flavor fixes a lot of the over-cooked mistakes.


I don't eat much when I cook for myself though. Not because I dislike the food, I don't have much of an appetite by the time it finishes cooking. I do love cooking for others and experimenting the hell out of weird cooking combos because why not. That's the most fun part, you pick a recipe and then you try to substitute ingredients but maintain the taste more or less the same. Eventually, you will understand flavors more and can create new recipes because you can learn about various ways in which you can cook the ingredient for using it as a different part in a dish.

Cooking edible food is easy for most people, they are either lazy or like me sometimes where their appetite is gone. Following recipes is more bothersome than you think for a lot of folks, programmers don't find it that bad given they are used to reading monotone instructions.

I was actually thinking about opening an online food service for people with diabetes/weight problems/specific goals where you can get good food delivered to your home. The recipes aren't that different for someone doing keto and suffering with diabetes type 2. They can generally be combined for example.

Finding ingredients for a keto low carb diet is hard if you are vegetarian/vegan and there is ton of problematic information out there. Recipes are not clear, it won't taste good and frankly speaking, it is expensive if you get the ingredients in low quantity due to the demand.

People need a dietician + food without jumping through many hoops. That way, More people can be healthy.


Some of those weird looks might be that they want your company at lunch occasionally!


What sucks about people not being able to cook for themselves is that they stop cooking interesting things and thus the supermarket produce section keeps shrinking. Yeah, some places like Whole Foods have large varieties of items, but there isn't one anywhere near my neighborhood. The local grocery store doesn't even sell radishes.


Indeed. You can give them the answer used in my family "Planned-overs"; where a sufficient quantity is cooked to plan other meals in advance.


Which works until you have a teenager in the house (and then works again once they move out).


I tried to save money once by making lunch and bringing it to work. My SO at the time who was much more frugal than me pointed out that eating lunch out (socializing) was much more important to them than the savings which over the course of a month was not that much, especially if you factor in the cost of time and that there were way more effective ways of saving money than giving up socializing time.

It was also boring (for me) in that in order to save time and money I'd end up having to make a larger portion of one thing and then eat the same thing all week.


In many cities in the us eating out is as cheap as cooking. I'm not 100% certain but someone told me it's because you have to consider economies of scale for an eatery and real estate prices and commodity level revenue streams for the supermarket.


Provided the workers scoop deep, a chipotle bowl is generally two meals for me, especially if I get a tortilla on the side to build a burrito with the remnants later. Lunch and dinner for ~$7, breakfast can be a cliff bar for another buck. So ~$56 a week to eat out every day, not too bad if a $50 weekly grocery bill is the rule of thumb.


You barely get two dinners for $50 here in Sweden unless you go for fast food which isn't an option if you're going to be eating out every day. A typical lunch is at least $10.

If I'd eat out every day both lunch and dinner I'm going to pay roughly $800/month compared to my usual $300/month for groceries.


For me it's quite similar, in the office they always tell me "Wow! That look amazing, I can't believe you do it everyday". Even when it's a salad with 3 ingredients


Same here. As Italian living in The Netherlands the difference with my everyday meal and the Dutch sandwiches always leaves some awe. Honestly, cooking and eating healthy is not hard, saves money and tastes better.


As a Dutch person, I find it hard to believe your cooking is cheaper than a piece of bread with some cheese on it. Better tasing, for sure though.


My two sentences were disconnected actually.

1. Cooking causes awe in Dutch people 2. Eating healthy is cheaper that eating out, and easier that many may think.

BTW, you Dutch guys should stop putting butter on everything, eating hagelslag by the ton, and drinking yogurt instead of water. It might be cheap, but terribly unhealthy :).


Butter and yogurt. That sounds healthy to me! (Don’t know what hagelslag is..)


Eating left over for lunch at work is usually not a good experience as the only way to heat food is microwave, unless the food you bring is best reheated with one, or just have a cold salad or sandwich. As an aside, learn the best method to reheat food for each type of meal. Steak, spaghetti, fish, bread all have the best way to make it as enjoyable as possible.


Same. Started cooking out of frugality and anything I can order or comes packaged is unhealthy. Cooking feels like the default, what normal people do. I was so wrong. None of my friends can cook even a simple meal without step by step instructions. Some can grill, and that's it. They just order food or eat something from a box every single day.


It’s gotten to the point for me where I look at Seamless (hundreds of options here in NYC) and generally go to the kitchen and make something instead.

So much less packaging.

I spend less on more food and what I eat is largely organic, pasture raised, grass fed and often from local farms.

And I really enjoy cooking, so that probably helps. I love using my hands, and I usually don’t have any music on so I have a lot of nice time to think while I’m cooking.

Plus the people around me love eating delicious morsels I produce and I occasionally get a rain of compliments.

Sometimes I follow recipes, sometimes I do my own thing, and sometimes it’s a mix.

Keeps me on my feet, and dextrous, even going to the store is a bit of exercise since I walk there.

All in all, a wonderful part of my average day and week usually.


“Normal” people do cook, especially if they have families. You and your friends are in a bubble (nothing wrong with that).


What made my post-college mental state so much better (as well as my friends' quality of life) was that I forced my flatmates to cook with me all the time and we would have people over for lunch/dinner like I used to do back home, in Greece. Our stomachs and wallets are still thanking us to this day.

For context, I studied in the US and moved to London for work right after graduation.


US is not a homogeneous set of cities


You are right, life in New York isn't exactly close to that in other US cities


I rarely have time to cook which sucks, but I make the effort when I can and I've just bought fresh ingredients.

I get home around 6:30 and go to the gym in my apt until around 7:30, then after I've showered and had my protein shake it's now 8:00 and I'm tired. Prep to eating to cleaning up can take an hour or more for me, and I try to go to bed around 10 if I can to wake up for the next day at 6. If I have to go to the grocery store that can take another hour out of my free time after work. Morale is low, freetime for hobbies are low, and the only way to maximize this time without cutting into fitness or sleep is to go with a premade meal from trader joes and be done with it.

Homecooked meals made a lot of sense when you showed up at home at 5:30 with that pot roast your wife started at 2:30 steaming and plated for you on the table, but that's not the world we live in anymore.


You don’t need to shop or cook daily. I do all of the above and have time to cook my family homemade dinners and breakfasts.


I feel that's why food trucks became popular. Low barrier to entry (relative) and allows people that know how to cook quickly cook for those that don't.


I also noticed this; my friends would eat out or eat a tv dinner every night; In the meantime, I was eating healthy chicken and veggies.


Instant Pot. Game changer.


Learn to enjoy poetry. There is so much of great poetry in English, but I think it is not being read and appreciated enough. It is a kind of mental challenge like doing a puzzle, to unlock the full vivid meaning.

Also reading fiction, though how exactly it helps one is beyond me, but it offers glimpses into other worlds. For example I read recently 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', I doubt its richness of detail, and evocation of place and time, etc can ever be captured in a film or even a miniseries, and on top of it is choc-full of tid-bits of information.


I've been trying the same and each time I failed miserably. I just don't get it and certainly can't enjoy it. Can someone recomend good poetry sutable for highly analytical mind or a book about apreciating poetry?


I would recommend 'Understanding Poetry' by Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks, as a good introduction, it also includes a reasonable collection of poems from various poets to appreciate.

I would also suggest getting an anthology like 'The Golden Treasury' or Anthony Quiller-Couch or Robert Penn Warren (Six Centuries of British Poetry) or G B Harrison. They are available often in small pocket editions, which one can carry around with one.


I've been reading "Sleeping on the Wing" on and off recently -- I think it's meant more as an intro for older school kids but I've never read poetry outside of school and it's been an interesting overview of different poets and styles.


I am not very fond of poetry (except some specific poems), but there is one book of english poetry which I think you may enjoy: the Spoon River Anthology[0].

It's a collection of epitaphs for the cemetery of a fictional town, and each one basically tells a story. Fiddler Jones[1] and Blind Jack[2] (coincidentally, both about fiddlers) contain a few of my favourite verses in all literature.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_River_Anthology [1] https://www.bartleby.com/84/60.html [2] https://www.bartleby.com/84/74.html


Maybe try reading poems by poets who write mostly in plain English. For example Charles Bukowski, Philip Larkin and Stephen Dunn. I don't generally like "flowery" poetry but I do enjoy many of the poems written by these writers.


I personally am pretty into William Carlos Willams for a few reasons:

- intense dedication to imagery - his poem Danse Russe, which to me us just about the silly things we do in privacy where no one is around - the fact he was a doctor and churning out an insane quantity of poetry

WCW inspired me to write my own poetry mainly because of that last point. I struggle to describe software engineering in that format, sadly!


Rather like music theory, having a highly analytical mind is a boon...eventually. It's so easy to dig into the mathematical structure of it all and not deal with the actual thing. So start with the rollicking and absurd, and read it aloud!. Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, for example. I have yet to meet someone that doesn't get a grin out of that. Isherwood, 'The Common Cormorant'. These are poems that beat you over the head with their structure and meter. Limericks, doggerel, songs from Shakespare plays...and pay attention to where it seems to stutter or skip, where it doesn't work. That is the beginning of training your ear, and recovering the ability to feel and enjoy the sound, making that part of the reading experience. Technical prose has trained that out of us as a matter of self defense because so much technical prose is only tolerable with your ear firmly swathed in cotton wool and stored carefully away.

When you get past the level of limericks and children's poems level, suddenly you have interpretive choices to make because the precise flow and timing of sounds can work different ways and some work better than others, and as a reader you have to bring an interpretive faculty to these works. When you get to something like John Donne's poetry, you're now deep in "every bit of timing and inflection matters."

For children's poetry to get started, Belloc's 'The Bad Child's Book of Beasts' or the Looking Glass Book of Verse are high quality collections. Then it's worth getting something like a Norton Anthology of Poetry as a way of reading very widely very quickly to find out what appeals to you right now, and explore that further.

Many people recommend the Oxford Book of English Verse. I don't, because I think Quiller-Couch had insipid taste and his editing ranges from the uninspired to the positively atrocious (what he did to John Donne's 'The Ecstasy' is horrid). I have found Garrison Keillor's 'Good Poems' to be particularly approachable, high quality collection of verse. I also suggest Ezra Pound's 'ABCs of Reading', though you shouldn't take what he writes about Chinese as anything other than a metaphor for his topic at hand.

Spend time with Shakespeare, of course. I recommend the Oxford complete works. I do not recommend the Yale complete works. Did my wife and I have a tiff about that? Yes, we did. Was I able to demonstrate by reference to passages that I was right? Yes. Do we only have the Oxford in the house now? Yes.

Robert Frost's complete works are cheaply had and a necessity for someone studying modern poetry. Two or three poems of his are butchered in every school class, and the full range of what he worked on is generally ignored, because it can require a very finely tuned ear to hear and interpret the force that his longer, narrative poems can produce.

But really, once your ear starts to come together, dig through the Norton anthology and use it as pointers to further things to read.


Some stuff that reads weird to me is quite beautiful when spoken appropriately, my internal voice/reading speed needs to be adjusted or is not good for this. Off the top of my head the best example might be cheating but it's when Ann Dowd recites a bit of Yeats in The Leftovers.


Have you tried Dylan Thomas, the greatest poet in all of Wales? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylan_Thomas

Those of a more Scottish persuasion might prefer Robbie Burns.


I would suggest Walter Scott rather than Burns for the Scottish perspective. In general, Tennyson, I think is a good place to start.


An easy way to get started is the YouTube channel Ours Poetica[1]. It's kinda like Audible but for poems (and free). Produced in collaboration with The Poetry Foundation.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv4-yypZ7srAlzk_MQCRaLQ


A good place to start is with the Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org

It's been around since the early 1900's and has lots of good articles and podcasts, even a poetry magazine.

If you're American, it's nice because it focuses a lot on American and Midwestern poets.

And if you're in the Chicagoland area, it has events and its new headquarters downtown is considered an architectural treat.


Totally agree with you. Recently started moving from non-fiction to poetry and picked up "The Gift", Poems by Hafiz. It refreshing to see how much one can say with a few words.


Agreed. It's a magnificent translation of magnificent work. My family has adopted the Nowruz custom of opening Hafiz randomly and reading what we find as an annual ritual.


Is there any evidence that poems have meaning? I could easily imagine a world where poets fool themselves into thinking the words they wrote contained their intentions, while readers fooled themselves into thinking they had uncovered those intentions.


Poetry has no more and no less meaning than language itself. The popular HN definition of a "hacker" is someone who digs deep into a system, understanding it and pushing its capabilities beyond what is commonly understood. Poets hack language. Sometimes the product is buggy, but sometimes it's an elegant hack.


The meaning to the reader who believes this is, that poetry can fool and likely in interesting ways. I don't believe 'poetry is meaningless' as a interpretative structure, though the format has the capacity to convey that.

I prefer Tolkein's applicability of art over auteur theory and allegory. A work of Art applies in many different meanings. Allegory and auteur theory exist as a valid interpretation and are too limited to see the whole picture of what art can do. An artist can intend to write a meaningful poem that conveys love and sadness, an audience member can see that as a foolish endeavor. Both are right, when the poem is executed in a manner that provides fuel for both flames.


So why do people tend to shit on fine art of hacker news, but whenever they discuss writers there’s a certain love attached to it?

Especially concerning self-help books: aren’t most of these books written for those who simply don’t have enough courage to listen to their own common sense?


It takes a while to understand what fine art is about because it's almost completely removed from education and cultural relevance for most of the populace. Fine art is a great art form and you need to be in a mental space that's open to interpreting it. Movies and games have superseded fine art's ability to excite the self. Paintbrush technology doesn't have many real world applications and does not excite HN. The construction skills that go into fine art and what it means to build a great piece of art is now something you have to seek out, rather than be taught or find in popular culture. Movies and computer games in particular are on the bleeding edge of what we can do. They are more exciting and more able to keep the viewer up to date on the current culture, technology and stories.

There is room for a minor hypocrisy in your average criticism of high concept fine art that seeks to express an idea that pushes the field forward despite it not being a complete, popular or useful product. Programmers are doing the same all the time in hobby projects and sometimes they blow up to a massive scale, the same in fine art.

Self help books hit multiple marks, it depends how broadly you see common sense. They help keep a very self-focused individual up to date with the culture and provide extra insight into common problems people can have. They can be used by the reader to explore a thought that is related to what is being read. They can be used as a reference point in a relationship. They can be a starting for point for people with psychological issues to begin the climb back up to a healthy state. They provide a window into another person's perspective on the world and that can be entertaining in itself.

This board is highly focused towards a certain set of goals and a certain set of outcomes. There are a bunch of perspectives that get trimmed in the comments, which is inline with the stated objective of this place as a technology incubator. Any derision or negativity to fields that don't have an immediate application in the tech field are going to be given more leniency than other windows into negativity, like flat-earthers, religious comments and lazy criticism of tech from other fields. That's part of what makes HN what it is. Independence in commenting (and content) has become a limited phenomena online.


Even in that world, I would dare say that poems have meaning. Just one that is personal to the beholder. As a lover of the sciences and mathematics, it used to really bother me, the 'subjectiveness' of there being no "right" answer - but I think an important aspect of that subjectivity is that while there are not necessarily knowably correct answers, it is quite possible for an interpretation to fail to map. What makes many a poem beautiful is how many 'correct' (and often mutually exclusive) interpretations simultaneously contain, i.e. interpretations that are not contradicted by the poem itself. That aspect of containing multitudes is now one of the may things I have come to really appreciate about poetry, and the arts more generally.


"Is there any evidence that tweets have meaning? I could easily imagine a world where posters fool themselves into thinking the words they wrote contained their intentions, while readers fooled themselves into thinking they had uncovered those intentions."

As with all natural language, production and interpretation of poems is subjective. Poetry is just an attempt to use natural language without the constraints of prose, in order to accomplish things that are not possible with prose.

Some poets may have a goal to convey a particular idea or emotion. Others may just want to create something moves the reader. Still others may not care about the reader at all. All of these things are okay.


Actually, that speculation about tweets sounds pretty realistic to me...

But seriously, I think we can all agree that among the literary arts, poetry is the most likely to be accidentally uninterpretable. Due to its cultural context it is also the area where uninterpretability is the most likely to be accepted. This creates an environment where you run a serious risk of developing a culture of meaninglessness.


Some poetry serves the "higher" meaning of discussing political ideas like Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric.

Some poetry is made to make you laugh like Billy Collins' Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun in the House.

Some poetry is purposefully inscrutable and difficult because the author wants you to work to understand them. A good example of this might be r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by E.E. Cummings.

Each of these examples is meaningful in its own different way. I think trying to decide what has meaning is hard because you might automatically discard a work of art that is "just for fun". Isn't play meaningful?


as everybody else in Italy, I had to study the Divine Comedy (which is an incredible work, and I'm glad I had to), and part of doing that is learning multiple interpretations of a single line, variations of people who have read and re-read the work over centuries. It really easily convinces you that, if the art itself can have a given meaning, still many interpretations are bonkers and there might be no hidden meaning at all.

I am sure the same applies, to e.g. William Blake.



If you try reading poetry and get something out of so reading, does it matter whether they "have meaning"? It's the practice, and its effect on you, that matters. Like Zen. You've missed the point if you think there's anything valuable to be found, something concrete you can dig up and take hold of, that when you find it you have it and someone gave it to you.

"Meaning" may be present but is irrelevant if the experience is the same—what evidence do you want? Getting something out of poetry? Many people clearly do, if that's the test.


I'm faintly appalled by the glibness of this comment. I'm not sure what kind of poetry you have in mind, but spending even a little time with the classics will reveal that they "have meaning".


You might as well ask "does music have meaning?" Poetry is many things, but at the root it's about the beauty of words themselves, their sound and shape and feeling and even taste.


Read the 'right' poetry, you'll find the evidence for yourself.

For me the first piece that spoke to me is When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley, that we had to memorize in 7th grade (he's buried here in Indy).

The first line:

>When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,

This immediately triggers fall in my brain. The smell of damp hay and decaying leaves. The morning chill and moisture in the air as the frost begins to quickly melt as the sun comes up.

The second line:

>And you hear the kyouck and the gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,

If you've ever seen a turkey in person, and heard it start making a fuss, it's a pretty unique sound. They can also be quite flamboyant and arrogant as they strut around a field. I immediately think of that sound, the herky-jerky movements, them posturing to challenge you before they charge.

Later:

>They's somethin kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere

>When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here

Those first few days when fall really sets in, when you start to get that frost and the leaves are falling and you have that wonderful musky aroma of their decay, there's something almost magical about it and you just stand there drinking it in. This takes me there.

A bit later:

>But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze

>Of a crisp and sunny monring of the airly autumn days

>Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock -

>When the frost is on the punkin and fodder's in the shock.

Again, the smells and chill of that crisp and often damp air with all of those aromas starting to rise as the sun comes up. The beautiful reds and oranges and browns and champagne yellows of the leaves of the changing trees

>The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,

There's something about wind blowing through standing corn that is almost ready to harvest, I read this and I hear that, 'rusty russel of the tossels' is a perfect description.

>And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;

As the laves have started to fall in great numbers and you traipse through them they do make a rasping sound mixed with this every so slightly wet sound as mositure trapped between them makes them peel and tangle.

>Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps

>Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;

>And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through

I can almost feel that fuzzy, sweet, crisp taste of warm cider lighting my mouth up and warming me.

>With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage, too!

Boom! Always makes me feel the cool air, catch a hint of memory of the smells of fall and want some warm biscuits slathered in apple butter and the wonderful porky-vinegar magic that is souse.


I could say the same thing about certain engineering types who simply parrot paragraphs of academic vocab.


Definitely no argument there. It's not a competition between art and science to see who is more pointless, it's about humanity striving for point-fulness.


That is good question.Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder


I second this.

Poetry is play and learning to play with language can open up new worlds. Here is a favorite of mine.

Again by Ross Gay

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/92019/again-586e779b0...

This book[1] compares poetry to music. There are many genres and styles of music, and it is likely that you don't like all genres. Enjoying poetry is about trying to find the "genre" of poetry that moves you.

[1] Don't Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems - Stephanie Burt


> - Build something. A new workbench for your office. Fix up an old car. Build a pull-up bar in your garage. Use your hands, cut some wood and metal, and treat yourself to a new tool or two.

Be careful... my wife gave me a drill one year and I’ve since renovated two houses and now have a small fortune in tools.

If you don’t have a garage, basement or backyard for it, your local community college might have a “maker lab” with all sorts of high end woodworking, metal working, laser cutters and 3D printers...along with meetups and evening classes to boot.


Btw, not as satisfying as woodwork perhaps but you can do small electrical projects around your house and feel a sense of accomplishment. e.g. installing dimmer switches. Turn off mains and then easy to follow instructions that comes with the switch. Just screwdriver and pliers needed. Save energy and house looks warmer. :-)


I always found the "idea" of that kind of work enticing.

However, once I owned a house and had to do renovating/updating, I ultimately found it frustrating.

Some jobs are incredibly frustrating if you don't have the exact tool to make it easier.

The likelihood the angles and geometry of your home are square is, IME, near 0. Even measuring and re-measuring multiple times, I end up with a lot of wasted, mis-cut material.

YMMV, but I always found when you add up the time spent and material cost, it's nearly a wash to just pay someone else to do it.


> YMMV, but I always found when you add up the time spent and material cost, it's nearly a wash to just pay someone else to do it.

I dunno. For some tasks the time it takes to find somebody else to do it, be available to let the person in/out, and settle payment is much larger than doing it yourself; the lead time is orders of magnitude larger, and doing it yourself gets the bonus that you can do it whenever is best for you, instead of negotiating your agenda with a busy person.


This is why I've acquired most of the DIY home improvement skills I have.

By the time I message 3 electricians, coordinate to let them in the house, get a bid and have someone do the job, and finally get it done, I could've just youtubed and googled my way to doing it myself. Maybe I have to pick up a tool or two along the way but eventually you reach an inflection point where you have the tools you need for multiple jobs. I think the biggest tool purchases I've made in the last 18 months are a brad nailer, a finish nailer, and a 4 ft level.


> Even measuring and re-measuring multiple times, I end up with a lot of wasted, mis-cut material.

In my experience, the only way to do less of that in the future is to do more of it now.


>The likelihood the angles and geometry of your home are square

This is true...it might be square on one plane and off on the other. That's what the 6 foot long levels are for by the way. It's good to find someone who has the tools and expertise to apprentice from -- either at a local cc or just hire them and ask if you can do some of the work. I went through several contractors before I found the guy I like to work with...I guess its the same in everything...but once you figure stuff out like that blasted little semi-hidden copper pin that's between you and a replacement shower valve, a lot of cost savings can be realized. The first time I replaced that thing, the plumber charged me $270. The second time I replaced it, I paid $19 for a part at home depot and did the rest myself.


The problem I find is if you aren't doing it regularly everything takes three times as long as a it would take a contractor.


just like writing code!


It's almost like we have an interdependent society where we each specialize and use the money we make to pay other people to do their specialty!


I think woodworking != home improvements.

I would agree that often projects to fix up your home can be more frustrating than satisfying, unless, like you said, you have the right tools and some prior experience.

Building things that sit in your home (furniture) is likely a bit less frustrating & rewarding, even without the perfect tools and experience.


Agreed, carpentry and fine woodworking aren't the same thing, but a lot of the tools/practices/methods overlap.

Start small and work your way up. Make a cutting board, fast forward a couple of years and you'll be building cabinets. Fast forward from that and you'll be shaving backs on a Windsor chair.


It usually is a wash to pay someone THE FIRST TIME, then after its more or less free. (Caveat : assuming your time is free)


I've started some woodworking projects. My first couple of attempts left a lot to be desired. It seems like a lot of it is just having the right tools. I mostly enjoy the sanding and staining part, or using a torch to weather proof it.

The other thing is I can't find good plans. If I have a plan to follow, it makes all the difference, I don't know enough to figure it out as I go. Like right now, I've been wanting to build a pool stick holder. Probably one that is on the ground, not attached to the wall. Even the sites I look at that have plans you pay for, they don't seem that helpful.


I agree that it does make the process go better if you have a reference. I found myself more and more looking at small details -- I cannot go into a room any more and not see the sheet rock screws underneath layers of tape and spackle designed to conceal them. I can't unsee poorly mitered joints.

It's like coding...in the beginning, yes, its useful to modify someone else's similar project as you learn, but after awhile, its much easier and more engaging to start with a blank sheet and just start typing.


> Be careful... my wife gave me a drill one year and I’ve since renovated two houses and now have a small fortune in tools.

Started with a 3D printer for me, then a membership to Techshop. Few years later I have a garage filled with woodworking / metalworking, diy cnc machines, laser cutter, welding, and automotive tools. It’s a slippery slope.


+1 on all of the above. I just want to add one thing

- Learn an instrument. Just for fun. You don't have to play in an orchestra or a band.

I came to this thread expecting it to be about tech skills, glad to see this comment at the top. Overall, I'm more grounded and happier for it (and less depressed).


I am a hobby (unplugged) woodworker with a quite large collection of vintage tools... it all started because I needed some basic temporary furniture for the new house and w were broke enough to not be able to afford it - the kitchen I built is still around after 7 years and I have developed a lot in this area.

I use manual cameras, or digital cameras in manual mode / with manual lenses because that's how I learned photography in 1990's

I like to cook, 95% of our meals are home made, I can prepare a whole week worth of meals in abut 3 hours, including cleaning. I usually just improvise, my wife says I can make a delicious meal out of an empty fridge...

Yet music somehow eludes me - and it is THE thing I have always wanted to be proficient at way more than any of the above. I just don't have any idea how to approach it. Let's say I get a musical instrument - be it a piano (keyboard), a guitar, saxophone or percussion. What's next? Practice the notes until I'm "touch-typing" them? Then try to mix and match? Try to play some sheet music or repeat what I've heard before by brute-forcing? I am actually able to re-create a simple melody by trying the keys on a toy keyboard, but in all the other areas (woodworking, cooking, photography) I went almost straight to improvisation - which I enjoy the most - and I have the feeling that in music there is some set of basic skills required to unlock this, yet I don't know what it entails. Woodworking is all about hiding the imperfections, photography is about selecting the best shots / being prepared for lucky timing, and an imperfect meal can be (usually) fixed with herbs/spices/salt. Music is either spot on, or too far off to be tolerable - am I missing some middle ground opportunity here?


I'm learning it with an electric guitar plugged into my xbox using the game/app Rocksmith. It's not the recommended approach for beginners. But I'm having so much fun with it that I'm going to see how far I can go before I signup for classes. That and JustinGuitar is how I'm approaching it. The whole investment was under $300 (not including the xbox). I'm assuming that music is going to take a while before I feel I have anything resembling mastery of it. My goal is different - I just want to blow off steam playing music instead of a video game or watching TV. It's a very modest goal at this point. YMMV depending on what you're trying to achieve.


learn to play songs you like. all you need to do this is a few chords. if you choose guitar, there's tonnes of tabs out there, and if you choose piano, just read the guitar tabs and translate the notes/chords.

but most importantly, play songs you like! sing along! play around with the lyrics! whatever!


I’ve spent the better part of a decade trying to learn an instrument and I’m terrible at the guitar. I guess it’s just not for some people.


Listen to classical music. This one didn't come to me until my 40s but I finally realized: there's a reason that this music has been popular for 300 years.

I agree. It's funny how when I was young I would only listen to one type of music, like it was some kind of tribal loyalty. Now I listen to all kinds of things, and I've learned to hear the difference between really good music and stuff that's just manufactured for corporations.

(Ironically, what got me to expand my musical horizons was Apple's corporate promotion, back when you used to get a free iTune each the week on the iTunes store, by picking up a card in Starbucks, or buying a bottle of Pepsi from the vending machine at work.)

Getting back to classical, I also recommend apps for KDFC/San Francisco, KING-FM/Seattle, RTBF Musiq'3/Brussels, RTHK4/Hong Kong, and RTÉ LyricFM (Dublin?). I used to be a WQXR/New York fan, but it lost its way after the New York Times sold it. I've heard good things about WRR/Dallas, but haven't tried it yet.

KING-FM-HD2 is awesome background brain lubricant when you're working on something hard and mathematical.

If anyone else has any favorite classical stations, please reply.


WRR has kept me through thick and thin.

My bookmark straight to the music streamer page is below uBlock a few of the banner ads and you are set.

http://player.listenlive.co/44461


In what way do you think WQXR lost its way? I went from 12 years of WRR to WQXR about 3 years ago, and I didn't notice much of a difference.


Classical 101: WOSA/Grove City, OH


The cooking thing really hits home. I work in a high stress, banking environment at a fortune 500 company, and I eat out most days. I know theoretically how to cook, but between the time it takes to shop, cook, and clean, AND I'm doing well financially it's so hard to convince myself to cook. Living alone doesn't help either.


Get a slow cooker and have your groceries delivered. You can make delicious, nutritious 1 pot meals that last you 2 or 3 days a pop with minimal prep time and cleanup.


In a similar vain, I recommend getting a sous vide circulator. You'll make perfect steaks and pork chops every time, and it's extremely clean and convenient. You can cook all sorts of other things sous vide style as well.

I recently got one, and I've been cooking at home a lot more often as a result. I think more people would cook their own food if they knew how to make it taste really good.


I fully support the value system here in that we both want people cooking for themselves more, but I have to say that sous vide cooked steaks taste like boiled meat to me, aka terrible. People around me are swear by it until I slap a ribeye onto the pan for them, high heat, making sure to render the fat.

To each their own but imo a sous vide is a big, expensive, plastic waste of counter space.


If sous vide is tasting really bad to you, you’re doing it wrong. Almost certainly you’re not doing the final step, finish in a pan. You shouldn’t take something right from the sous vide to the plate, hit it in the pan at the highest heat you possible can to get the Maillard reaction and develop the crust.


So you're getting the pan out, oiled, and hot anyway. You're gonna have to clean it. And while on the pan a rare is slowly turning to well. Why not just do it all on the pan??


You're thinking only in the context of the traditional "steak" cuts like Ribeye or NYS.

Sous vide opens up a wider selection of cuts that can be used, which traditionally do not cook well on a grill or in a pan.

Skirt steak, for instance, which has great flavor, but is difficult to cook correctly, can be cooked perfectly in sous vide.


Because with a skillet on high heat, it really doesn't take long to sear a steak and still keep it pretty rare. It also depends on the kind of pan you're using. A cheap pan will have a different heat distribution than a cast iron skillet.

Yes, you have to clean the pan. This is precisely why I use a torch to sear my meat. Even with the few times I use a pan, I prefer it because the reduced time on the pan means less oils splattering around my stove top, and I do think that the pan is still an easier clean this way. But that can all be avoided by using a good torch.


Because not everyone can get the timing right and heat consistent enough to properly cook from start to finish in a pan. Especially as you get to thicker cuts.

Sous vide takes out the guesswork for getting the insides to the right temp. Then just get the pan as hot as possible for quick sear in a pan for the outside.


> Because not everyone can get the timing right and heat consistent enough to properly cook from start to finish in a pan.

I understand this point, the point of sous vide is consistency, but I disagree that not everyone can get the timing right. With practice, anybody absolutely can get it right. And if they have hundreds of dollars plus the counterspace to throw at a sous vide machine, they have the resources to cook a couple "bad" steaks before they start getting it right.


Right, but not everyone wants to. One of the reasons I gave up cooking steaks the normal way was because I can easily get distracted by checking something on my computer, a few minutes go by, and then the steak doesn't come out the way I wanted. This is a personal failing, but at the same time doing it sous vide helps avoid that problem. Hours can go by and a steak will still come out pretty good.

> And if they have hundreds of dollars plus the counterspace to throw at a sous vide machine

Exactly how much counter space do you think a sous vide machine takes up? Maybe there's some out there that are huge, IDK, but most of the consumer grade ones sold are like half the size of a wine bottle and can be attached to any container. You could probably even attach it to a kitchen sink if you wanted to.


Not disagreeing, and honestly it's much faster to do in a pan.

Still, I also understand the appeal. More precise, less issues if something interrupts you, and perhaps the best benefit is batch cooking steaks. Especially when starting, using sous vide can help you focus on getting the sear right and not ruining your steak.

Plus, with thicker steaks, you often need better pan temp control or the use of an oven to help get it to cook evenly. And that's just an extra layer of hassle that takes time to master as well.

But I concede it can also be a crutch for a relatively easy cooking skill.


Was going to reply with this, you need to brown a steak. That’s where the flavour comes from. Much easier to brown a steak that is already warm too. Would need to be careful of overcooking if you’re used to 90 secs each side on a seating hot pan.


It sounds like it's the people around you doing sous vide wrong and you're actually doing it correctly(by virtue of searing the steak). I've never heard anyone suggest eating a sous vide steak without searing it or using a torch to brown it, render the fat, etc. A sous vide steak should still taste at least halfway decent without searing because of the amount of salt and seasoning used in the process.

Your viewpoint is totally valid, though I still encourage people to give it a try for themselves. They don't even need a circulator the first time they do it, although I do think they're worth the money. A lot of restaurants actually sous vide their steaks before searing them, so if someone's sous vide steak is coming out terrible then I suspect something really went wrong in the process. Either not enough salt and seasoning was used(sous vide calls for a lot of salt), or they didn't properly sear the steak.


In culinary school we where taught that a steak does not touch the flame until it is room temperature. The reason for this is it shocks the steak and causes it to draw up, it takes longer to draw out the moisture in the surface and it allows some of the organic decay of the fat. Most restaurants use sous vide to short circuit this process as they can hold them in immersion below rare temp and then take them directly to the grill. Nothing wrong with this, it accomplishes the same end result and that is you don't seize the meat and cause it to draw up and you pull some of the moisture out of the surface while breaking down some of the fat.

I think most people mess up on doing it all in a pan due to the fact that they go from at least fridge cold to the pan. Put one on the counter, salt it, cover it and let it sit for an hour or two and most people will be surprised at how well of a steak they can produce in a pan. If one really wants a good crust, leave it salted and uncovered in the fridge to dry for 3 day. It takes a lot of energy to evaporate moisture and you need the moisture out of the surface to brown a steak rapidly.

That being said I use my sous vide machine to bring them to temp as it also does a better job of distributing the salt and garlic I like to use.


Thanks for the insight! I didn't think that letting a steak get to room temperature would make that big of a difference!


Yea I’ve found the same. Nothing like slapping a nice marbled ribeye on a hot grill.

I will say though the sous vide does work really well for some things. Batch cooking of chicken breast, venison in nearly any form, and various cuts of pork that you want rare but want to make sure it’s safe to eat.


Have the steaks you've eaten been seared? That's a key piece to successful sous vide cooking!


Quick sanity check - are they not finishing the sous vide steaks in the pan/grill?


It takes 2 - 3 minutes in the pan for me from raw... How could they possibly sear the steak without putting it in Well Done territory?


1. You quickly chill the meat in the freezer (or ice bath) after taking it out of the sous vide. This will help prevent further cooking when searing it, because we only want the sear.

2. You heat the pan as hot as possible, way hotter than normal, so that you can sear with only 10-20 seconds per side. Some use a torch instead.


Do both. Sous vide to your tastes, then in a hot pan on each side for 3-4 minutes. Best of both worlds, without having to worry about overcooking the outside to get the desired internal doneness.


> Sous vide to your tastes, then in a hot pan on each side for 3-4 minutes

Cook a steak, and then put each side in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes?!


IKR. I sear steaks for 6-7 minutes per side anyway for rare to mid-rare, so I don't see the point in sous viding for hours just to save 3 minutes in the pan.

I love sous vide for tougher cuts that need a long cook time, but using a sous vide for a ribeye is just pointless.


Yes, it's the reverse sear, and proven to be better by SCIENCE


I'm not objecting to the order; a raw steak after 3-4 minutes each side is (fairly well!) done - no sous vide needed!


3-4 minutes per side is insufficient to raise a thick steak to 125 degrees (rare). Below 125 is "Blue", aka raw. Which can be fine as well, but I wouldn't call it a rare steak.

I've seen such steaks (I don't have sous vide myself), and they look like the perfect rare done steak. A nice pink shade throughout, with a beautiful crust.


Scientists better get their hypotenuses straight before they take on my stomach

But, what science?


https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/03/how-to-reverse-sear-best...

Most likely something from The Food Lab when talking about food and science.


Yay! Someone got my tongue-in-cheek reference


Hypothesis: Sous vide followed by a sear results in an evenly cooked steak (regardless of thickness) with an awesome crust.

Experimental results: drool

Experiment status: success.


Experiment needs to be duplicated before accepted.

Materials needed: more steak

Timeline: now


Seconding immersion circulator as a purchase. Joule by chefsteps is nice, and small enough to fit in a drawer. Entirely app controlled though and has visual doneness guides and recipes. Helps you get the feel for it for sure. Best part is you can cook from frozen too so if you forget to pull something out to defrost you can just add a little time to the bath.


I wish. Minimum $$ and limited inventory available for delivery through my local grocers. Anyone who cooks beyond some veggies and out-of-the-box meal components knows quality of ingredients is the utmost. Like, going to multiple butchers for the best cut of meat kind of quality.

It's like anything else, you must invest the time and energy to get the quality. Restaurants simply abstract this away by increasing the cost.


I think you're over playing "quality." A great stew can be made from ribeye or from chuck; if I'm grilling I want the ribeye from my local butcher, if I'm making a stew I don't really care.

If I'm making a quick soup for the evening; I'll use store-bought stock, if I'm making it for a huge group of friends, I'll put in the time to make my own.

Home made spaetzle is a great, quick noodle (and since I've got Celiac, it's an easy noodle to make GF) that takes about 5 minutes to actually make, 3 minutes to boil, and 5 minutes to brown on the stove top. Using it for Mac-and-Cheese is almost faster than the Kraft stuff.

And with anything that is a learned skill, cooking is slow at first; but as you get better at the basics it speeds up the process. As an example, it used to take me almost 2 hours to change my oil on my car; now I can do it as fast as a shop (~20-30 minutes).

The biggest thing that it all comes down to is time/money tradeoff, if I can convince myself that something is more worth the time it takes to do than the cost of someone else doing it, I can usually make it happen.


Instant pot (best kitchen purchase I've ever made) and meal prep. There's entire subreddits dedicated to meal prep with a lot of good ideas.


I love my instant pot. My favorite recipe is red beans and rice. My mother-in-law is Cajun from down on the bayou and this was one that I adapted from hers. Happy to post it if anyone is interested. It makes enough for about 6-8 one-bowl meals and freezes wonderfully, so you can always have a quick meal ready in a pinch. Takes about 10 minutes of prep and an hour to cook.


I originally bought mine for pork butt, it makes doing pulled pork super easy as you have to use spoons to get it out because it falls apart that easily. Then I found it made chicken thighs incredibly easy to cook to fall-off-the-bone. I did a smaller beef roast in there too once and the meat was more tender and moist than in the oven and was done in 1/4 of the time.

Last year I transitioned to 95%~ whole food plant based eating and used it a ton for black beans (I've since switched to low sodium canned black beans just for convenience) and now every 3 days I cook a bunch of peeled potatoes and baby carrots in it for my lunches.

I put in some water, hit the broil button to pre-heat the water and peel my potatoes. By the time I'm done peeling the potatoes and have dumped the baby carrots in the water is boiling and I go ahead and set it to manual for 16 minutes and put the lid on. 20-25 minutes later it beeps and I manually vent the valve and get my meal prep containers out, fill them up, 30-40 seconds to clean the pot and I've got lunch for three days. It's great!


I would be interested in this recipe, if you don't mind posting it. I'm still trying to get in a groove with the instant pot.


Sorry you're being downvoted. I guess the instant pot isn't hacker trendy enough


The IP is pretty overrated. I have one and use it really often, but it has serious limitations that fad blogs just kind of ignore. Like, it's not really a huge time saver because it's low pressure and takes so long to come to pressure anyway. Also, pressure cooked meat is very often gross and spongy, so you should use it as a slow cooker in those situations.

It's great for rice, beans, sauce & soup bases. Plus, it doesn't heat up the house in the summer. But I think it's limitations make it a poor suggestion for a novice cook.


> pressure cooked meat is very often gross and spongy

I haven't cooked much beef in it that hasn't become part of a stew, but my experience cooking chicken and turkey is that it comes out incredibly juicy and flavorful. Even better if you have the air fryer/convection add on. I've done turkey in it for the past several years for potlucks and family meals and it always gets rave reviews. For beef, part of the appeal was that I could brown it, saute aromatics, and then cook it in the same pot.


It was probably the mention of reddit. I've found most of the time I mention a subreddit that is relevant to a topic I get downvoted.


If you have the money (and it sounds like you have), there are quite a few recipe box companies which send you boxes of ingredients and recipes every few days. It's a nice stepping stone towards fully cooking for yourself as it cuts out the shopping/deciding part.


And if you don't want to invest in a subscription until you're sure that meal kits are right for you, most supermarkets sell their own.


Anyone have suggestions for these?


We used Hello Fresh to reduce the time spent picking recipes, food shopping, etc

Highly recommended, but definitely pricier than acquiring it all yourself.

Kroger now has a recipe thing where you can add it all to your cart, so we went back to that for the time being.


Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are the big players.

Blue Apron tends to focus on interesting recipes. Hello Fresh tends to be a bit more focused on fresh ingredients. But honestly I couldn't really tell them apart.

Alternatively, several super markets now sell kits you can buy with the ingredients and directions.


If you have never cooked before, start with one of the big companies mentioned by other posters. Once you build up recipes (HF and BA send you the recipes on notecards!), you can cancel and get everything at the local grocery. These days, most grocers have order-online options with quick pick-up or delivery.


I've used Gousto on and off for years, great variety of recipes and never disappointed -it actually works out not very expensive per meal if you order the 4-people package, though you need some organizing to cook/freeze the extra meals in time.


I use Riverford in the UK. Comes with all your ingredients and a recipe - I've learnt to make quite a few of my favorite dishes thanks to these guys.


This is good way to start cooking and hit the kitchen. Eventually though you may feel like you want to mix and match and start buying your own grocery.


Hellofresh. Super happy with them in Switzerland - quality ingredients and good recipes.


I'll throw Gousto in there as well for the UK.


Hello Fresh has been my favorite.


If you happen to enjoy it, cook. If you don't want to cook, you don't have to. It's also possible to eat healthily if you eat out, especially if you have enough money.


I have done all of the above except the classical music. I find spending time to do meditation is more useful.

All of the above, I find cooking is an incredible skill that many people underestimate greatly.

Here are the things that I do for my cooking for every week or every two weeks.

+ 30-45 minutes grocery shopping including driving.

+ 30-60 minutes per day to cook daily dinner and prepare breakfast.

+ 10-15 minutes to clean up.

And what I think it solves/helps/improve our family daily life:

+ Food quality is definitely way better than outside. We have good amount of vegetable, fruits, fresh meat/fish/poultry and other dairy products.

+ Lots of time saving for not going out, spending time waiting, driving, moving the whole family around.

+ The cost is very low, probably around 1/3 of eating out.

We do spend a day or two to eat out or eat carry-out food.

While this takes time (months/years) to get a good skill at cooking and minimizing the time, this is so far one of the best skills I have had and I do think people should invest in it.


That's awesome! I forgot to mention this in my top-level comment but if you're ever interested in cooking some Tex-Mex, I have a recipe book for you. My grandmother wrote this in the early 1970s and it was regionally famous in the part of Texas where I grew up. She died when I was young and my aunt inherited the ownership of the book. I asked her for permission to make it freely available and she said OK. I had plans to translate it to TeX but never got it finished. I did put up a PDF scan of the original that you can download:

https://chrissnell.com/cookbook/womc.pdf

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. For newcomers to the book, I highly recommend the cheese enchiladas recipe and the anticuchos recipe. Anticuchos are not authentic Tex-Mex but they are very much tied to San Antonio and that recipe is probably the best in the book if you make it with good quality steak.


Those are delicious recipes, I might want to try in the future. Thank you.


Agreed, no one in my friend circle cook any more. I learnt it out of necessity - I missed home cooking and then became vegan which made me realise the lack of creativity of the chefs when it comes to vegan food. Now I love cooking just for the sake of it.


For the "learn to take pictures on a manual camera" suggestion, this is probably the reddit multi-part tutorial: https://www.reddit.com/r/photoclass/ (scroll to the bottom for the first lesson)


They also just started their 2020 series here: https://www.reddit.com/r/photoclass2020/

They'll slowly post the next step of the guide throughout the year. Subscribe and follow along to learn!


Yes!! This is the one. This class taught me so much. I went from a photographer that ended up with garbage 90% of the time, to one that can usually get the shot. Glad to see that they now have a 2020 class, too.


+1 to taking walks. Having a dog makes this really easy, because you have to take them out 3-4 times/day. Or at least, you really should.


>- Listen to classical music. This one didn't come to me until my 40s but I finally realized: there's a reason that this music has been popular for 300 years. Opera is great, too. Listen to Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro". Download the KUSC app and listen to the amazing Metropolitan Opera broadcast every Saturday morning at 10 AM Pacific.

How is this a skill?


Agree with the sentiment, the answer is just soapboxing life advise, not really answering. But being able to focus on/appreciate classical music is a skill, hearing the different instruments and such.


Aaron Copland's "What to Listen For in Music" is a great primer!

I think most people fall into a Passive Listening model when getting into symphonic or chamber music. The book suggested above would certainly push an average listener closer to an 'active' model.


Appreciating anything that you aren’t already a fan of is a skill. You can also develop the skills of enjoying hip hop, metal, spaghetti westerns, rock climbing, etc.


Cooking is one of my favorite activities that I'm actually decent at. One "cooking sin" that I do is that I don't taste my food throughout cooking. The general feedback on my cooking has been positive.

When I try and cook new dishes, I do it by theme. The theme can be:

* Ingredients (eggs, poultry, grains, tomatoes)

* Courses (breakfast [eggs, pancakes from scratch], dinner, desserts [flan, custard]

* Execution (baking, sauté, oven)

* Cuisine (Mexican, Thai, French, Puertorican)

You will easily overlap the themes the more you cook, the themes are a starting point.

Two of my favorite books that the audience here might appreciate are The Food lab[0] and Cooking for Geeks[1].

* [0]: https://www.amazon.com/Food-Lab-Cooking-Through-Science-eboo...

* [1]: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Geeks-Science-Great-Hacks/dp/...


The nightly walk part is really life-changing. We need time to process what happens in the day and a walk is a great way to do that.


Einstein walked on the beach when he needed to work out complex problems. Steve Jobs preferred to conduct meetings while walking. Tchaikovsky took a walk every morning, before sitting down to work on his music. Charles Darwin walked twice a day to process ideas... turns out that walking boosts cognition and creative thinking.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-think-about-exer...


Learn to make basic cocktails ( manhattan, old-fashioned). Get good spirits, quality mixes ( cannot emphasize this enough), fresh herbs and you got yourself a great skill.


Definitely. Like a good set of tools in the workshop, I love to buy new spirits every time I have a cocktail night with friends. I have a liquor cabinet full of strange aperitifs and whiskeys. It's very fun to learn. I should find an app that lets me build a virtual liquor cabinet and gives me ideas for new drinks that I can make with what I have.


My wife got me this book - https://www.amazon.com/Shake-Perspective-Cocktails-Eric-Prum... It's got a list of liquors to stock, everything in the book can be made with them. You will need to just buy fresh ingredients each time.


Re: cooking -

What are you guys eating if you're not already cooking/eating leftovers 4+ nights a week? This is absolutely mind boggling to me... I eat out maybe 1-3 times per month, I don't think I would even want to go out more than that.

Are people actually eating out 3 or more times a week? I'm convinced that you aren't actually saving that much time vs cooking.


I cook most nights and frankly am starting to see the appeal of frequent dining out.

I cook for three and that's generally in the 10 minutes prep, 20-45 minutes cooking, 15+ minutes cleaning. And that's dinner. It adds up. Eating truly fast food takes 5-15 minutes.

If fast food were reliably better for you I think it would be a wash. Financially I used to order out in NYC and get two+ days meals out of a single Indian seamless order for $30 and no cooking time.

The compromise, I think, is cooking a meal 2x quantity and freezing half for a week, but then you get into some very tiresome food routines.


I guess it depends on how much food you're making. My girlfriend and I typically alternate cooking and will make enough for ~3 days of food, so really we only cook 2-3 times a week, and when you alternate the task it's not much time at all. I also don't mind eating the same thing for days in a row, so that helps too.


I discovered at 22 (now 28) that most cities have young person and student programs for inexpensive tickets to the symphony. $20 for any ticket in the house is a great way to spend 10 or more nights a year.


> Listen to classical music.

It also open the doors to so many other genres as well that you might not appreciate as much than when you enjoy classical.

Post-rock is mostly instrumental and some bands uses classical instruments to complement the guitar, bass and drum. It's an interesting mix

an example from a recent album I listened this week: https://besides.bandcamp.com/track/ich-bin-wieder-da-2


+1 walks and cooking healthy meals.

> Build something.

Build something that the world actually needs. Something where you're using your unique skills and privilege to help improve the world a bit - help others who are a few rungs below you.

Have a plan for how you're going to do the most good you can with the time you have left. Helping others (humans and sentient non-humans) is the best path to long-term happiness in my opinion.


A reddit user (which I cannot remember) said it best imo. The way they put it was (loosely quoted) "Create something. It doesn't have to be anything physical, you can create experiences for people".

If woodworking or car repair isn't your jam, volunteer to help the needy. Or if you like the stage join a drama club or comedy club or whatever else you can do to enrich other people's lives.


Cooking: while in grad school we started a cooking club, which has since evolved into a cookbook club. One person chooses a cookbook, and then tells the group which main dish they will prepare. Others chime in with side dishes, desserts, etc. The group gets together to discuss the book, the challenges, the triumphs, etc. It is one of the things I look forward to!


Agreed. The skill I'm working on this year seems to be woodworking. I made my wife a little box to put her Christmas present in, and designed and built a storage system for the garage over the holidays. Now I'm working on building a new set of workbenches for the garage to replace the ones the previous owner built.


It's bloody addictive isn't it? I started out doing cutting boards and my last commission was to make a custom poker table.


- I take commission based wood working projects - Cannot use a manual camera - Wife cooks most nights - always take a nightly walk with my dog - listen to classical music with my baby everyday

I’m not doing too badly by this list and I’m relatively happy.


Where do you live ? Nightly walks do seem lovely (i tried twice), but I always have the potential mad person around in mind. City or forest.


Bringing up Mozart is somewhat ironic, as he is basically the first pop music artist. A lot of his stuff is just catchy tunes.


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