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Have you ever tried to teach yourself how to cook?
How did it go? What was your first step?
Maybe you went to a knife etiquette class. Maybe you watch cooking shows and swear the whole time that you’ll learn to cook like that (except maybe tomorrow). Or maybe your version of cooking is following the instructions on the macaroni box to the tee.
If you’ve tried to teach yourself how to cook, you’ve probably already noticed that it’s not an overnight process. It takes time, practice, and perhaps planning. (Not to mention the self-discipline involved in avoiding takeout.)
Good news: you can relax a bit. Cooking more at home doesn’t mean going from microwave dinners to rotisserie chicken in a snap. You’re allowed to go slowly. In fact, you can teach yourself how to cook with whatever tools and knowledge you already have.
And, yes–this pertains to those of us who only know how to make PBJs. Any start is a good start! With a few changes and new habits, cooking will become easy. Get this: it just might become fun.
Learn how to cook in 5 easy steps
1. Spin off your favorites
This is the twist you’ve been waiting for.
You already (sort of) know how to cook!
Do you make stovetop ramen? Perfect. Do you make turkey and mayo sandwiches? Also perfect. Do you make mac and cheese, maybe with some hot dog mixed in there? Awesome.
No recipe is ever the end-all, be-all of recipes. Spicing up a meal you already know how to create is a great way to get your foot in the culinary doorway.
Remember the ramen we mentioned? Slice up some fresh veggies. Saute some meat. Throw them in with that savory, noodly, brothy goodness you’ve come to love.
Woah. Hold on.
Your ramen just went from pretty darn average to very tasty indeed.
(Not to mention the added nutrition bonuses.)
Nobody said you had to step out of your comfort zone to teach yourself to cook. A few revamps and upgrades to meals you’re already familiar with can make an impressive impact.
2. Grab new ingredients
I’ll say it for everyone: grocery shopping kind of sucks. With that in mind, it’s easy to fall into a routine when it’s time to stock up the kitchen.
Get in, grab the food, and get out, am I right?
(And pay for it. Don’t forget to pay for it.)
In the whirlwind of your to-do list, you may not always notice the plethora of options that are waiting for you.
Next time you’re in the store, try this: go a little slower, and open up to new possibilities. Really take a look at the stuff available to you.
Pick something new, even if you have no idea how to cook it.
It could be a squash you’ve never seen before. It might be a can of beans you previously had never heard of. Perhaps it will be en exotic fruit that you’re not exactly sure how to eat. Maybe it’s a cut of meat that, for some inexplicable reason, inspires you. It can be all of these and more.
Once you’re home, all it takes is a little research to find a recipe for your new ingredient. It works with anything. Try googling “(insert whatever ingredient here) simple recipe.”
You’ll be amazed. And also hungry. And also satisfied, because you just made a brand new meal. Now eat it. You deserve it.
3. Try a cooking subscription
As it turns out, you don’t even have to go to the grocery store to teach yourself how to cook. Meal kit delivery services are available for every diet and budget (think PlateJoy and Purple Carrot)!
The meal sizes, prices, and features all vary depending on the service. The main ideas behind them are convenience, simplicity, and, of course, learning to cook. They send a set of ingredients and a recipe to follow to your doorstep.
If you don’t have those few extra bucks lying around, there are other ways to get culinary advice and inspiration showered upon you! Almost all food blogs and recipe websites have a free subscription option.
Do a little browsing to find the foodie site that resonates with you the most. Once you sign up, your inbox will be blessed with all the cooking-related content you desire.
Daily reminders can do wonders in helping you reach your kitchen goals!
(Bonus points if the reminders look super delicious.)
4. Find a recipe you can’t resist
Let’s do a little exercise. Close your eyes and imagine your favorite food.
(Or all five of your favorite foods.)
Now imagine that you just made it at home.
Great job! And great news–you can definitely do that in real life!
With the world wide web at your fingertips, gorgeous recipes are everywhere to be found. There’s one in there that’s perfect for you. Guaranteed.
While it takes a little more planning and a few more minutes in the dreaded supermarket, the practice will pay for itself. Plus, the mental image of that mouthwatering coconut chicken with sweet chili recipe you found is excellent motivation.
While you’re out searching for the perfect meal, take it a step further. Find a few. Find, say, seven of them.
Hint: that’s one for each day of the week.
Have a few exciting recipes lined up. This is a great way to construct a grocery list and plan ahead.
Don’t forget about some dessert recipes, too. Dessert cooking practice is just as good as dinner cooking practice.
5. Above all, start small
The main idea behind everything said here is NOT that you need to get started right away.
It is NOT that you should be going from grilled cheese to filet mignon as fast as possible.
In fact, it’s the opposite.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by cooking and the effort it requires.
“I need how many ingredients?!”
“What even is that, a spice? A vegetable?”
“I don’t have a dutch oven and I don’t know where the broiler is, so, NOPE.”
The keys to teach yourself how to cook are to start small and keep going. A step forward, no matter how little it may seem, still counts as progress.
Don’t forget the salt, don’t forget to turn off the stove, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself.
And, most importantly, don’t forget dessert.