cookingJulia Child’s name is synonymous with the best of French cooking. Interestingly she didn’t learn to cook until she was almost 40! Cooking can be a chore for some. I can understand the frustration many people feel when it comes to cooking. The extent of my culinary skills when I moved out on my own was Kraft Dinner. That isn’t even food! Thankfully my skills in the kitchen have improved and yours can too.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what to make and what tools you need:

  • Start with foods you enjoy. If the kitchen is foreign territory to you the last thing you need to do is try something you don’t know. Make a list of your favourite foods and look for recipes. There are lots of recipe websites like All Recipes.com where you can search by ingredient, meal type and more.
  • Choose recipes that have ingredients available locally. There is nothing more frustrating to a novice cook than going to four different stores looking for one ingredient.
  • Cook healthy, fresh food. If you are going to spend time in the kitchen it should benefit your health. Cooking your own healthy food is better for your wallet too.
  • Watch how-to videos. I still do this from time to time. My last attempt at cauliflower pizza crust was a disaster until I googled how to make cauliflower rice.
  • Invest in a few basic kitchen essentials. You’ll need a few pots and pans, a few cutting boards, a vegetable peeler, spoons and spatulas. The most frequently used tools in my kitchen are my chef’s knife, a 12” cast iron skillet and a cast iron Dutch oven. I use these for everything from soups and stews to omelets and dessert. Another essential is a slow-cooker. This item is a novice cook’s saviour. Hold off on buying big ticket items like a food processor or a stand mixer until you know for sure what you really need.

Now that you’ve found your recipe and you’re ready to brave the kitchen here is what you need to do:

  • Always have clean, clear counter tops.
  • Read your recipe a few times before starting. Make sure you know what you are doing and in which order.
  • Prep ahead and place things in the order you will need them. Chop your veggies, measure out your broth, etc and line them up in order.
  • Have a sink filled with warm soapy water so that you can clean up as you go.

When it’s time to sit down to enjoy your creation remember:

  • Sit down at the table to eat. You will not appreciate what you’ve made if you are sitting on the sofa watching TV. Turn off all electronic devices.
  • Take your time and savour your meal. It takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to register satiety signals from your stomach.
  • Sip water or tea or enjoy a glass of good wine. Do not chug a big glass of cold water during your meal as this will shut down digestion.

The most important thing when selecting, preparing and eating healthy food is to have fun. Be adventurous and try new vegetables. The worst that happens is you discover you don’t like it. But maybe you discover a new favourite. Don’t worry about screwing up a recipe either. At worst it’s one you don’t repeat and at best it becomes a family speciality. Get the family involved and make this a new passion for everyone.

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