The way I see it, if it's in a can, it was put there by a man, or woman, probably earning minimum wage for doing work they hate. I'm a full time cook, so I have the luxury of time in the kitchen About a year ago I started making everything from scratch, thus ensuring quality and providence. I've come a long way, with a lot of help on the net, and L Google endlessly. The cooks, chefs and food bloggers I have come across have been and inspiration and education.
I get a ton of ideas from Pinterest which I pin to my boards so I have easy access. If when i'm cooking a dish and I don't have something on the list then I google 'replacement' for that item and 'Bob's your uncle!'
Videos are a great way to learn a recipe and there are so many out there the possibilities are endless.
I watch 'Cooking With Dog' when I want to make anything Japanese (not cooking with dog meat, Francis, the dog, is the host).
For authentic Indian food I watch Show Me The Curry amongst other great indian on line chefs. It was really hard to find good Indian food in SoCal, not anymore, now I can cook along with a guy in India complete with accent and turban. Very very good.
I love Thai food, they have, by far, some of my favorite flavors: lemongrass, lime leaf, ginger, sweet basil and coconut milk. I travel 30 minutes to get to a market in the ghetto for authentic ingredients. Thai Street Venders is a phenomenal site. You get to watch dishes prepared on the streets in Thailand. I also love thaifoodtonight.com a mother and daughter duo with over 30 great recipes. The mother tells a funny story how when she moved to the US a couple of decades ago she was so scared she wouldn't find fish sauce so she packed her case with tons of it, no clothes, just plenty fish sauce!
These days when I got shopping for the week I have just a vague idea of what will be on the menu. I allow seasonal items and organic specials to dictate what I make. My adventure ball's are growing rapidly and I will always try new and unusual looking items. Buy strange looking thingy, write the name down, (very important) google that name and the word 'recipe' and hey presto, your cooking outside the box!
Eureka moment: Until recently I was buying almond milk in the big cartons. I wanted organic milk but couldn't find any, so I though: hang on a mo, I bet I can make this stuff! I mean, it's not like there's an almond milk island where almond bears produce milk and send it with milk fairies to the stores. I googled 'almond milk recipe' , halved the amounts, replaced the raw almonds with organic raw, replaced the dates with a drop of honey, blitzed it, strained it and chilled it in the fridge. Now I have my own recipe for Organic Almond Milk and I will never buy it again.
I relish the making of condiments and dressings. Lime marmalade, chili sauce, mustards, pickled ginger, Indian style pickled lime, mango chutney, flavored vinegars and oils, baked beans, caesar, ranch and mayo, dill pickle, Mexican veggies, you name it i've done it...or i'll do it.
My most nose to tail dish I have cooked so far was a whole wheat calzone, chili barbecued tomato base with duck breast prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and cumin smoked olives.