Last night I was reading over the Outside the Box Challenge entries from the Frontier Girl Test, and I just got so excited about how people were making such awesome recipes from scratch. Cooking your own meals is one of the best things you can do for your body and your head. (And learning to cook is unquestionably the biggest factor in how I lost so much weight.) So for any reader who still hems and haws at the grocery store and buys her lunch every single day, I thought I’d share some of my best tips.
1. Jump right in! You don’t have to be a pro to follow directions. You’ll surprise yourself.
2. Cooking saves money. I can’t afford not to cook! Once you get comfortable in the kitchen, you’ll get the hang of buying foods that work in a variety of different ways, which saves even more money. If you can afford to eat junk, you can most likely afford to cook healthy.
3. Cooking at home is healthier than dining out or buying processed foods. Plain and simple. And if you are convinced baking will make you gain weight, read this post about how I stopped licking the beaters.
4. Live alone? Break it down. I’ve become pretty adept at modifying recipes to make dinner for one, but you can always make a full recipe and freeze portions for later.
5. When cooking for others, the best recipes look way more difficult when served than they were to actually make. That’s the money trick, right there, and it’s what brings all the boys to the yard.
6. Keep it simple and be creative. I try to stay away from obscure ingredients, but if I do buy something special, I Google new recipes that include them so I can use them up. If you can’t find said obscure ingredient, don’t hesitate to Google to see where it’s typically sold or ask someone at the store where you can find it. You won’t seem dumb, I promise.
7. Don’t overthink it. It’s pretty hard to mess things up. I eyeball a lot of my herbs and spices, especially when cooking for myself.
8. Make your own treats. There’s a great tip in Michael Pollan’s Food Rules that says, “You can eat all the junk food you want, as long as you make it yourself.” If you can only eat French fries you made from scratch, you’re probably going to fries less often! This is why I always post a “Hump Day Treat.” I believe you should treat yourself, but you should treat yourself to really good, homemade stuff…not processed, store-bought crap with unpronounceable ingredients. And I truly believe that the more time you spend making delicious treats, the more confident you’ll become about learning to cook healthy foods.
9. Cooking gives you confidence. Trust me. When you look at that plate, no matter how simple or complicated the food is, you’re going to feel all warm inside. The day I learned to grill, I felt like I had just climbed a mountain.
10. If something sounds good to you, it probably will be. More importantly, if something piques your curiosity, it’s worth it to try it. Every time you say, “Well, that sounds good,” just make the damn thing. Don’t say, “Well, I’ve never made that kind of cuisine before…”
I choose the recipes I post on Shedding It carefully. Is it going to be expensive? Does it actually taste good? Is it unique? And I tag them all and post them on the Shed Kitchen page so that whenever you’re debating what to make for dinner, you can browse for new ideas. If you’re a new reader, definitely check it out — you may have missed some of my best recipes!
I love cooking. I will always defend cooking. But if you can’t cook, I hope I can at the very least inspire you to prepare your foods in better, more creative ways!
There’s just something so special about being able to nourish yourself and others.