I am in my middle 60's, slightlty disabled (bad hands) and live alone since my wife is lost in Alzheimers. I love to cook but get carried away by quantities so my fridge gets a lot of use. It is fun to see how many servings I can stretch out of a basic dish. I like to read many recipes for a given dish to learn the "first principles" for that dish. Then I adjust it to my taste. Italian sauces come up pretty frequently, they tend to have a commonality of ingredients that suits me. Seasoning and method of prep make one different from the other. I have a modestly nice kitchen that was designed by me and built to my specifications as part of a remodel of and old house. It gives me a pleasant atmosphere and caters to my disability. It does NOT improve my cooking. I tolerated a vile hole for several years with all storage on industrial rolling racks and about two square feet of counter space. I cooked just as well then as I ever have. In fact it proved to me that I could cook, not just collect gadgets. That knowledge adds to the pleasure of my lovely new kitchen.
Many years ago I had the opportunmity to see into the lives of many old people that lived alone and saw that most of them did not cook for themselves. They opened cans or had fast food containers everywhere. I vowed never to let that happen to me. Consequently, I eat fairly healthy and tasty food in small quantities.
I succumb to a fast food burger about twice a year. They are usually a big dissapointment.
I have had a life that allowed me to dine in many West Coast "Fine Food" establishments as well as myriad excellent places from the Mojave desert to Chicago. I was fortunate that cost was never a consideration.
Since my mind enjoys learning as my much as my palate enjoys good food, I have had the chance to recall the memorable meals and deconstruct them to find those elusive first principles. The "secret" is to respect the food and prepare it with care. NEVER throw something together! The kitchen, the tools, the gadgets and the cookware are irrelevant. If you can cook, the dish will turn out with good result.