The essence of being a foodie is seizing those chances to make the ordinary, extraordinary. Higher quality foods tend to be more flavorful and rich, and can easily add a wow factor to everyday meals. Go easy. Start by substituting a couple of premium-grade ingredients per recipe. Opt for heirloom tomatoes instead of standard red varieties; sea salt over your regular table salt; or preserves when the call is for jelly. According to Ronna Welsh, chef and founder of Brooklyn's Purple Kale Kitchenworks, starting with high-quality ingredients will make you a better cook and you'll be more satisfied with the results.
The supermarket is your friend
A farmer's market is a great source of fresh foods - and believe it or not, so is your local supermarket. More of your favorite mainstream brands are listening to shoppers' desire for products that use natural and choice ingredients. How do you find these products as you stroll the store aisles? Look for shorter ingredient labels. Take for example Farmer's Garden by Vlasic line of premium pickles. The classic American brand has gone back to basics with a selection of artisanal pickles in four flavors. The label on the back of the mason jar reveals a simple yet powerful recipe that includes fresh cucumbers, whole garlic cloves, carrot and peppers slices, and natural herbs and spices to deliver a top-quality pickle.
Make your farmer's market work for you
When you find yourself with a little more time available, such as on weekends, go local and explore the closest farmer's market. Your vendors are a great source of knowledge, so get to know them. They will gladly tell you what’s in season, help guide your purchase selection, and give you some insider's cooking and paring ideas. In fact, show up with a menu for a dish you have planned and they'll point you in all the right directions so that you can fill your shopping basket in mere minutes.
At your fingertips
Food bloggers, brands, columnists, you name it! These serious foodies have already done the homework for you and are willing to share their insight - for free! Just by typing in a few key words in a search engine bar, the limitless library of recipes and foodie guidance is literally at your fingertips. Scour the internet for recipes, seasonal dishes, pairing advice, cooking tips, entertaining ideas, and more. Technorati.com lists more than 17,000 food blogs, so be strategic. Start by visiting the top 10 on the list. When you find bloggers you can relate to, keep going back to their sites for more and feel free to ask them for help. Most of them came from other professions and found their passion along the way, like SassyRadish.com or WhiteOnRiceCouple.com, so they know what it's like to start out fresh. And since the smart phone and tablet are the latest "must-have" tools in the kitchens, don't forget to visit food sites such as Bon Appétit and Serious Eats to find top food apps worth downloading.
Pinnacle Foods Group, LLC
1 Bloomfield Avenue
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046-1429