Be frugal and be clever about it.
Being frugal means knowing what to do with what you have. All to often, people tell me that they cannot cook at home because it takes too much time and they don't have all 'those' ingredients. I don't agree. However, I understand where they are coming from. The problem is that many think you have to have certain ingredients that are expensive or just a one time use. I am here to tell you that you don't need to have only certain ingredients or expensive ingredients to be a brainy gourmet. If you are a clever cook, knowing how to combine sweet and savory using what you have on hand, then you don't have to follow a recipe nor buy all the ingredients given on any recipe.
As a brainy gourmet, what you should have on hand are these basic ingredients: butter, heavy cream, garlic, onions, fresh herbs, eggs, cheese, potatoes and tomatoes. That is my priority pantry list as it is for executive chef Eric Damidont and I am sure many other chefs. I would add to that list, meat/or vegetable stock as well as olive oil and or coconut oil, sea salt, black pepper, soy sauce, honey, rice, and pasta.
But, believe me, you can use just a few of those simple basics listed above and still do just fine. The best thing about using the same food basics everyday is that you become more confident with them as you get to know how to combine them differently (using your cleverness about sweet and savory) to achieve different results that can be amazingly delicious. People will be astounded that you can cook up a wonderful meal in so little time with so few ingredients ~ now that's being a brainy gourmet.