Most of us do not grow up with Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay as our parents. We don’t grow up making fresh vegetarian lasagna for a television show on a weekly basis. Some of us (myself included) were lucky that our parents not only knew how to cook but actively allowed us to participate in the process.
However, sometimes your parents or guardians did not know how to cook, or maybe they were too busy or maybe they were vegetarian and you love meat. Whatever the reason, we all have to start somewhere and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong with having frozen pizza and takeout every night but cooking for yourself can be just as easy. Not to mention healthier and friendlier to your wallet.
The first step is recognizing the desire or the need to start cooking for yourself (and or your family) on a regular basis. The second step: knowing that you CAN do it. I always roll my eyes so hard when I hear people say “I just can’t cook!” like it’s a badge of honor. If you can read and you have taste buds then you can cook. Simple as that. Yes, you will make things that burn, or you will make something that tastes so terrible your dog won’t eat it. I’m here to tell you that you sucked at walking when you first tried it, you also really sucked at talking when you were first learning. So don’t be so hard on yourself and just keep trying.
One of the best things about cooking for yourself is being able to have your favorite dishes at any time! When I first moved away from home I ate mashed potatoes for an insane number of meals and snacks. Think about your usual takeout order or what you usually order at a restaurant. Do you gravitate towards pasta dishes? Maybe fish or even ethnic foods? This is the best place to start. You will already have a baseline for what it should taste like when done well and what it tastes like when it’s cooked terribly. It will also give you the incentive to cook it since you already know it is something you enjoy. Once you get better then definitely experiment and try new recipes but for starting out stick with the familiar.
Once you’ve chosen your favourites, go online and look up 2-3 recipes and compare them. Find the one with the least amount of ingredients and the least amount of steps. Don’t Make it harder on yourself than it has to be. Read each recipe all the way through. Often there are good hints and tips in one that another author may have forgotten to mention. Make a shopping list and get the ingredients you need. Don’t worry about fancy gadgets or anything yet. As long as you have a pot a frying pan a wooden spoon and a knife you should be ok.
If you’re not big on cooking yet chances are you will have a limited pantry or stock of ingredients. My advice to you is to wait and gradually stock up. Only buy things you know you will use and not because “it was on sale at the grocery store”. Once you start learning 2 or 3 of your favorite dishes you will need to have some of the basics on hand to make them. However, you will obtain these through specific grocery shopping for the recipe. Make sure you have Salt and Pepper but the rest can wait.
When you do start purchasing ingredients always try to go for the freshest and the best quality that fits into your budget. Read the signs and see where your fresh ingredients come from, try going to Farmers Markets in your area. Fresh and local will make a huge difference in the quality of your cooking. There’s nothing technically wrong with frozen or canned, especially when fresh isn’t available, but quality ingredients can hide some of your little mistakes.
I will be posting some easy recipes here but in the meantime start searching through Pinterest or Yummly to get some inspiration