I dragged my feet on cooking. It was one of the last “adult” skills I finally accepted I needed to know how to do. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I started to learn how to cook.
The idea terrified me. I didn’t know what I was doing at all. Scrambled eggs unsupervised stressed me out. It was so easy for something to go wrong! What if I cut myself? What if it tasted terrible? What if I burned the whole dinner? Or worse, me!
It took me a long time to finally stop putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect at cooking and let myself explore, learn, and “fail.”
Now I’m confident in the kitchen. I frequently look at a recipe once or twice, and then do my own thing roughly based on it. I never would have dreamed of doing that a few years ago.
Why You Should Learn How to Cook
It shocks me how few of my friends know how to cook! It may be intimidating at first, but learning how to cook is a quick life-changer. Gross microwave meals and takeout be gone!
1. Cooking for yourself is so much healthier.
2. It’s cheaper.
3. You know exactly what’s in your food.
4. When it’s something you made, you appreciate it more.
5. Cooking is relaxing once you get the hang of it.
6. There is a distinct satisfaction and comfort in nourishing yourself and the people around you.
7. You can make your favorite dishes anytime, just the way you like them.
8. Your friends will be blown away by your skills in the kitchen (even if you really just chopped a few things and pushed it around a pan for a little while).
Where to Start
I highly recommend taking a cooking class or learning from someone you know. Being able to ask questions and have someone tell you there is no need to panic will make you feel infinitely more comfortable in the kitchen. You can also watch tutorials on how to do specific things like make scrambled eggs and roast vegetables.
You don’t need much to have a functional, efficient kitchen. Get yourself a nice, sharp knife (trust me, you will enjoy cooking infinitely more if it’s easy) and learn how to use it. Worry about the fancy stuff later. You really only need a cutting board, a solid chefs knife, a baking sheet, a medium sized pot, and a good stainless steel frying pan. You’d be surprised how much you can cook with just those five things.
Start by cooking one meal per week from scratch (you don’t have to make the pasta, but you do have to make the sauce and side veggie/salad). Be sure to make enough that you can eat it for leftovers. Nothing encourages me to cook quite like knowing I won’t have to scrounge for lunch or dinner the next day.
Embrace the weekends.
There is something magical about cooking on the weekends. The lack of stress and excess time make cooking relaxing and enjoyable. Invite a friend to cook with you or your roommate or significant other. Don’t worry about how anything turns out and instead treat it like an adventure. An adventure that will give you killer leftovers instead of sad salads to eat for lunch during the week.
Quick and easy weeknight meals.
I have general rules for weeknight meals: nothing with too many steps or dishes, 30 minutes or less of active kitchen time, and only a handful of ingredients. Save the marathon cooking and the obscure ingredients for a luxurious weekend. I also stick to techniques, and for the most part recipes, that I have done before. Weeknight dinners can easily be fast, easy, and nutritious.
Some of the first things I learned to cook:
High Protein Oatmeal in the microwave. I got you.
Mason Jar Salads: Cook is a strong word here. But hello, weekday lunch!
Vegetable Stir Fry: Made at least twice a month around these parts.
Veganonicons Miso Udon: Hands down my favorite recipe of the bunch. I make this nearly weekly in some variation. You can swap in broccoli, carrots, zucchini, or just about any other vegetable for the mushrooms. Bonus, it’s really hard to screw up.
Want more ideas? Check out my Pinterest board for healthy, vegetarian ideas.