Despite the fact that eating is one of life's greatest necessities, there are many people who struggle with cooking. Whether the issue stems from lack of practice or time, it's a real issue that can impact someone's financial and physical well-being.
How To Start Cooking at Home for Beginners
Cooking at home can help you save money, develop better eating habits, and create a sense of accomplishment as you become more self-sufficient. Here are some helpful tips for how to start cooking at home for beginners.
Identify Your Sticking Points
First, delve into the reasons why you aren't currently cooking at home. Is it a lack of skill, or do you have a hectic schedule? Do you just hate cooking, or do you hate your small kitchen?
There will likely be issues that you can't resolve (your counter space, for example). However, identifying your sticking points will help you determine the best route forward as you develop your cooking skills and habits.
For example, if the timing is an issue, then having things planned and ready to go will be a huge help. If your skills are lacking, then starting with basic recipes or watching tutorials online can help you overcome those hurdles. If everything stems from a hatred of cooking, maybe you'll discover that your feelings change once you start creating meals you love.
Start With a Simple Recipe
Start with a basic recipe that you want to try. Many people start cooking at home to try and eat healthier. However, as a beginner, it's more important to develop the habit and skills than to focus on the calorie count.
Generally speaking, basic pasta or rice dishes are a great starting point for new chefs. Pick something that has ingredients you recognize and less than 10 steps from preparation to plate.
Create a Beginner-Friendly Environment
Set yourself up for success while you're learning. Be sure that you have all of your cooking tools readily accessible and your ingredients organized. Use tools and charts such as measurement printables or easily accessible instructions that you can refer to as needed.
During the early days of cooking at home, it's also a good idea to have a timer handy so that you don't get distracted and burn something. Remember, there's no shame in being a beginner — even Gordon Ramsay started somewhere.
Let go of the idea that you need to do everything from scratch while cooking from home. There are many shortcuts you can take that will save you time and stress, and even the pros know when to cut corners. If the main reason you don't cook at home is your busy schedule, don't hesitate to pick up pre-cut vegetables or a roasted chicken as a starting point.
Another challenge faced by many people who strive to start cooking at home is the all-or-nothing mentality. They scour through Pinterest, plan a week of delicious meals, cook once or twice, get exhausted, and watch the food rot in the fridge.
Instead, start with a small goal. Rather than cooking for a whole week, maybe you'll start cooking one night per week. As you get comfortable in your routine, you might bump it up to two nights, and so on. The idea is to build a sustainable habit that won't seem exhausting or overwhelming.
Develop Your Skills
Once you get a few basic recipes that you like, determine how you can improve your cooking skills to expand your repertoire. Consider what you like and dislike about each thing you cook. For example, maybe your pasta noodles are too soft, or your sauce doesn't quite have enough flavor.
Make a note of these starting points to shape your next attempt. For the pasta, you might use a timer to take it off the stove a minute or two earlier. For the sauce, maybe you'll up the garlic a bit or add some seasoning.
Cooking is a habit and skill that's developed over time. Start small and take incremental steps forward. By this time next year, cooking at home might be a passion rather than a struggle.