Living in the jungle ruined me. When you live for years without electricity, when the nearest store is a 2 hour canoe ride to get into the back of a semi truck for 4 hours on a dirt road, you learn to scale back your culinary expectations.
Ok, there was a store in the village that sold unrefrigerated beer with cough drops–you suck on the cough drop while drinking the beer to trick yourself into thinking it’s cold. Good times!
So my standards have slipped. I’d be happy with a pot of beans, an occasional roast chicken with bread and cheese, and maybe something more elaborate for feast days. For the most part, my family is easy to please. But still food has to be planned and procured, cooked and cleaned up. And these people want to eat several times every day.
The change that has had the biggest effect is simple freezer cooking. I think the best book to start with is Fix, Freeze, Feast. The method is easy to understand, and the book is filled with tasty recipes. Then I would move on to Jessica Fisher’s Not-Your-Mother’s-Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook. It’s more involved, but the payoff is bigger too. Try Jessica’s book after you have built up a little confidence making things from Fix, Freeze, Feast.