Growing up, I wasn’t taught to learn how to cook. If you’re a millennial like me, you also probably never learned to cook from your parents. I’ve been learning on my own for the past 5 years, with a lot of struggles in the process, and I want to share with you some tips on what you can do to ease into this process!
1. Start small
You’re browsing through Pinterest and come across a beautiful, delicious-looking pastry. You think, I could make this. You try it, and it turns out to be way more difficult than you thought.
I’ve been overly ambitious in the kitchen many times. If you’re a beginner, it can be really discouraging to flop at your first few attempts. The worst thing you can do is start to think you’re a terrible cook and never try cooking again.
Choose recipes that have few, easy-to-find ingredients that you already have or will probably use again. Read the instructions and make sure there aren’t any unfamiliar, complicated techniques involved. Feeling successful will motivate you to keep coming back into the kitchen!
2. Don’t make too many servings
If you’re trying out a new recipe, especially one that you think might not turn out well, cut the recipe in half so you aren’t stuck with 10 servings of something that you don’t want to eat 10 times. Or a bunch of food you have to throw out, which is expensive and wasteful.
3. Choose to follow cooking videos instead of written recipes
Cooking videos are way more helpful than written recipes alone. You can see what the food should look like each step of the way. How big should I chop this vegetable? How wet or dry should this dough be?
If you aren’t completely familiar with cooking terminology and don’t know the difference between mincing and chopping, for example, a video can be super helpful.
4. If you do use a written recipe, make sure to read the entire thing
It can be tempting to just jump right into cooking, but you’d be setting yourself up for disaster if you didn’t read the entire recipe first.
Make sure you’re not missing any required tools, such as a candy thermometer or mandolin.
Other gotchas might have to do with timing before, during, or after you start cooking. For example, an ingredient needs to be softened at room temperature or soaked for an hour, or the dough needs an hour to rise, or the dish has to be frozen for 3 hours before you can eat it.
5. Stick to one cuisine for now
Cuisines from different cultures have certain ingredients that always show up, for example:
Italian food often requires tomato pasta and basil
Indian dishes usually require a ton of different spices
Asian recipes might call for rice wine and miso paste
It’s likely that unless you keep cooking within the same cuisine, you’ll end up with a bunch of ingredients that will go bad before you can use them all up. Unless you’re willing to splurge on ingredients, try and reuse the same ones over and over again.