Cook using ingredients that are in season! Make mushroom risotto in the fall when the mushrooms are in season. Use fresh strawberries in the summer, instead of frozen. Yes, this means you can’t have your favorite strawberry dessert in the winter, but you can have a lovely pear tart instead!
Cook with quality ingredients. For example: Parmesan cheese. Don’t bother with the powered Kraft junk in the green canister! Buy yourself a nice wedge of aged Parmesan or invest a little more money and get some lovely Parmigiano-Reggiano (higher quality). Also, for whipped cream, don’t even step towards the Reddi-Whip! Fresh whipped cream takes like two minutes and makes a world of difference. I introduced several past boyfriends to these two wonders alone.
Proper cook / bake ware does make a difference as well. If you are serious or even moderately serious about cooking, make the investment. Le Creuset changed my life and my cooking! If properly taken care of, it will last you a lifetime.
Shop as Europeans do. Perhaps several short trips to the store throughout the week for the items you need that day or evening. On Monday how can you know what you’d like to cook on Friday? For me, cooking largely depends on my mood of the day. Do a bulk trip for the everyday items, but allow yourself to go back to the store to get the fish fresh and cook it that day.