Banish the fear and learn to cook from scratch
If you’re reading this you’re probably one of the 28% of Americans who can’t cook. Many of us grew up on ready meals or just not getting involved in the kitchen. If you’ve never made a meal from scratch with raw ingredients then it can feel as if you missed the boat and it’s not something you’ll ever be able to do.
Don’t allow yourself to fall for that way of thinking, though. It is entirely possible to get past your fears and develop those new skills. Very few people have a genuinely phobic fear of cooking – known as ‘mageirocophobia’ for the geeks amongst you. For most of us it’s simply something we’ve never done and don’t want to fail at publicly. Time to embrace imperfection!
Start by getting a good book. Make sure it’s aimed at beginners and start with the basics – like boiling an egg correctly – and work your way up at your own pace. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way; remember, it’s about progress not perfection.
Get the right kit
Next, you’ll need to equip your kitchen with the basics. Don’t worry, it isn’t necessary to have every gadget and foodstuff going; most dishes can be produced from a pretty simple line-up of kitchen essentials. Before you get started, make sure you have the following: A good sharp knife, a cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, kitchen scissors, a sieve, a can opener and a couple of mixing bowls.
It’s hard to be too prescriptive in terms of pantry essentials as so much is dependent on personal taste, but I always make sure I have the following:
Dry goods – flour, sugar, rice and pasta
Oils, vinegars and sauces – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and mayonnaise
Herbs and spices – sea salt, peppercorns with grinder, dried oregano, dried mixed herbs, vanilla extract and stock powder
Refrigerated goods – butter, cheese, eggs, milk and plain yogurt
Canned goods – tomatoes, lentils and beans.
Set aside time
Make a commitment to set some time aside each day to cook. That time should be non-negotiable and in the diary. Make a list of different things you plan on trying each day and stick to it. It’s important to banish the excuses – we’ve heard them all. Whether it be not having enough time or having a tiny kitchen. They don’t wash. Like with everything, it’s about practice and taking things step by step. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Make use of online resources
Take a look at TV programs and online videos showing cooking techniques to inspire you. There are even some channels you can cook along with in real time. Watching someone else physically preparing food can be hugely helpful and show you exactly what you need to do in a way that a book sometimes can’t. There is a wealth of information and help out there – you just need to look for it.
Why it’s worth the effort
Remaining curious about the world and being willing to try new things is the secret to being a lifelong learner. It’s good for the soul and keeps our brains agile. Developing culinary skills, in particular, can help connect us with people from different cultures through the exploration of dishes from far afield. The joy of discovering new cuisines and tasting new things for the first time is not to be sniffed at.
It’s better for you. We all know that cooking from scratch results in healthier food without nasty additives and preservatives. The process of choosing fresh ingredients and working with them also connects us with the earth and seasons in a way that can be calming and grounding.
When you start cooking from scratch you make all sorts of unexpected gains. Like how to shop for groceries, how to read ingredients labels, how to slow down and be present in the moment while cooking, for instance. Once you start cooking you’ll find you taste food differently, appreciate knowing exactly what has gone into the meal on your plate and enjoy having friends round. All of this is great for your confidence and it can save you quite a bit of money too.
So don’t be held back by fear of the unknown and get in touch with the lifelong learner within. No more procrastinating – just do it. Becoming a competent cook can enrich your life massively. And the learning part is huge fun; Try to ditch any perfectionism and remember to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
This post was written by a guest blogger, Jane West. Jane is a freelance writer who reached out to Global Learn Day to write one of our featured “How to” Blogs! Thanks Jane!
We hope that this has inspired you to pick up a cookbook and learn a new skill!