Here are a few tips
- learn a few basic rules about what flavours work together. Pork and fennel. Lamb and rosemary
- learn a few basic techniques
- start with 1 ingredient and build a dish around it.
- watch the professionals on the tv shows, they know how to make something tasty from basic ingredients, and they jazz it up. At home we don't need to jazz it up as much
- learn a basic white sauce recipe (who needs a packet when it is so damn easy: 1tbsp white flour to 1 tbsp butter to 1 cup of warm milk. Add grated cheese for a bechamel, and herbs as well)
- learn a basic tomato sauce recipe: 2 tins canned roma tomatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1-2 cloves of minced garlic, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you have on hand. simmer it all for 1/2 hour and add 1tbsp of tomato paste.
- read widely, and use other people's ideas and recipes. Don't try to reinvent the flavour wheels - so many contestants on the cooking shows don't know the flavour combos, or they experiment too widely. don't mix strong flavours, use 1 strong flavour and 2 subtler flavours. Look for texture in the dish. Create good looking meals, we eat with our eyes first.
I would make a creamy pasta sauce, and serve on spaghetti or fettucine. Or you could make a soup with the brocolli and cream, using powdered vegie stock (good standby), and the leftover mushrooms could be sliced and panfried to serve on toast as a side.
If you had these 3 ingredients:
tomato, peas and ham
I would slice the tomato, slice the ham, and make a toasted sandwich for lunch, the peas would be made into a soup, just simmer in stock until soft and whizz. Or you could make a green pea and ham soup, with the tomato served sliced finely with salt and pepper on a sandwich. You can make a ham and tomato pasta dish (omit the peas) but serve the peas dressed in olive oil as a side
Try this: leftover roast chicken and vegies. Pull the meat from the chicken carcass, warm in the oven with the vegies in foil, and serve on a platter of salad leaves dressed with olive oil and sherry vinegar. The chicken carcass can be used to make a lovely stock to use in soups or risotto.
Bake some pork sausages with tomato, sliced fennel (including the green tips) and white beans. serve with crusty bread
Try to include a protein element (meat/fish/eggs), a carbohydrate element (bread/rice/pasta/starchy veg) and something fresh and green (brocolli/peas/leafy veg). You have the basis for a tasty, nutritious meal