I am a big supporter of making your own meals. There is no better way to know exactly what you put into your body than to make a meal yourself. The home cook is starting to make a slow comeback. Things like food network and celebrity chefs, have helped make it “cool” to get back in the kitchen. I’m all for this, no matter what your reasoning to cook might be. Some of you though still avoid the kitchen like the plague because you just can’t cook. No matter how many times you try, you just can’t get a meal together. You never learned how to cook or you just never had any interest. But I am here to tell you, if you have decided to eat healthier, you’re going to have to learn how to cook. The good news is that it really isn’t that difficult. I’m going to give you a few tips on how to feel confident in the kitchen and put together some simple, tasty, and healthy meals all on your own.
You don’t have to be able to make elaborate dishes. You don’t have to spend hours performing complicated cooking techniques to put a meal on the table. Start with very basic meals. Things like dried pasta, grains, salads, and baked chicken are all very easy to make and very healthy. Try spaghetti and tomato sauce. All you have to do is boil some water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. For the sauce, all you need is a can of tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, and some simple seasonings like oregano, basil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Heat that in a small saucepan until it bubbles and voila, you have a super easy meal that even a beginner cook can handle. The slow cooker is also the new cook’s best friend. It is easy to add the right ingredients and then let your slow cooker do the rest. It’s hard to mess up and you usually end up with a delicious meal. By choosing meals like this, you can start to build your recipe repertoire and start to feel more at ease in the kitchen. Once you get a handle on these simple meals you can start to expand to more complicated ones or start to play with different flavors and ingredients.
Watch Food Network
Watch any cooking show really. Many of the things I have learned how to cook, I have watched on cooking shows. One of my favorite shows is Alton Brown’s Good Eats. Each episode focuses on one ingredient or technique and then goes into simple ways on how to prepare that food. Alton really does a great job teaching the average Joe how to master some really simple dishes. If you don’t have cable, you can find a lot of cooking shows on YouTube or Netflix or Hulu. Find a show that you can watch and take some notes from the pros on how to cook some really delicious food.
Talk To Other Cooks
You don’t have to start going around to restaurants and bugging the chefs for their secret recipes, but start talking to other people who cook a lot. Start with people in your family who tend to be the ones preparing the meals, whether it’s your mom, grandma, uncle, or cousin. Ask them what they like to cook and how they do it. Watch them prepare a meal and ask to give them a hand. Not only will they most likely appreciate the help, you can learn a TON from watching others cook this way. Almost all of the basic cooking skills I have are from watching my mom make dinner for our family. She wasn’t a 5-star restaurant chef, just a mom who wanted to feed her family well. She stuck with simple ingredients and meals that she knew we would like and to this day her food gives me comfort. Being around other people who cook can help you with your own kitchen adventures, so start talking!
Don’t Be Afraid To Mess Up
If you have never really cooked before, chances are you’re going to have a few mishaps in the kitchen. That is totally fine and most home cooks will tell you they have had their fair share of whoops moments. But it’s good to have those mistakes because then you know next time what not to do. Sometimes, you’re just going to make a meal that is totally inedible. That’s ok! Don’t give up after one bad meal. Keep trying and soon you will be able to avoid most of those missteps. Although, every once and awhile you will do something silly like try to steam vegetables without any water and wonder why your pot of broccoli is smoking. I swear I have never done THAT before….
I know that I am probably a little bit of a weirdo, but I read cookbooks like they are novels. Sometimes there are tips and tricks written in the description of the dish that most of us skim over. By reading the whole thing, you might learn how to better prepare the meal. Take the time to read everything that goes along with the recipe and get everything you can out of it.
Don’t be intimidated by the kitchen, no one is expecting you to be the next Iron Chef. Getting some basic techniques down like cooking grains & meat, or roasting vegetables can be enough to get you started cooking your own healthy meals. Many of the recipes that I post here on the blog are simple enough for a beginner to handle and offer a lot of wiggle room for learning. Give any one of them a try and start getting more confident with your cooking!