Why Learning to Cook Is Important and How to Get Started

Learning to cook is an important life skill that tends to get overlooked.  Why?  I find that it’s usually an issue of time.  We’ve become a society that no longer sees the value of time spent in the kitchen cooking a healthy meal for their family.  However, the more I dig into this profession, the more I see a shift happening and people returning to the kitchen.  People are starting to see the value in learning to cook and more importantly creating the balance we so desperately need in our lives.

If you’re like me, you aren’t a chef.  You’re a normal human being just trying to figure out how to get your kids to eat something nutritious.  While at the same time keep yourself healthy.  You might also have goals to lose weight, have more energy, sleep better, or just eat healthier.  Learning to cook is the first step to finding long term success.

Confession:  Before kids, I wasn’t much of a cook, at all!  I knew how to make a few things: spaghetti, rice, salads (although not the best), sandwiches, and eggs.  After meeting my husband, I attempted a lot of meals for us, to express my love, but they certainly didn’t all turn out that well.  He expressed his love by eating it anyway.  (He’s a good guy that way).  It wasn’t until we had children that I slowly started trying new things.  I feel like I can finally call myself a cook.  I’m not chef status, but I know how to cook a nutritious meal for myself and the rest of my family. 

Here are my reasons why learning to cook is important:

You eat more nutritious meals.  As a I described in my blog about eating as family, we eat better when we eat at home, and together.  Science suggests that when we learn to cook at home, we eat more vegetables.  More vegetables equals more micro-nutrients.  More micro-nutrients equals healthier body.  Usually, our bodies start to like this new normal which means we’ve paved the road to reaching our goals.

You save money.  Cooking at home is always easier on the bank account!  It doesn’t matter if you are dining at taco bell or the nearby swanky restaurant.  At home, is still less expensive.  Especially if you are feeding a family.

You teach your children that you can still have your favorite meal but cook it in a healthier way.  It’s fun to show the kids that we can make their favorites at home.  Case in point:  I started making french fries at home for the kids using avocado oil, garlic powder, and our air fryer.  They’ve actually told me they like the fries at home better than other places!  Now I know what your thinking, “when did French fries become nutritious?”  There’s nothing wrong with a potato folks, in fact they are loaded with an incredible about of vitamins.  And if my kids want fries, making them at home is always the more nutritious option.

You are much more likely to reach your health and wellness goals, long-term.  When you know how to cook your favorites, you don’t depend on others.  You don’t need to buy overly processed food products or order delivery because you know how to do it yourself.  When you’ve spent time learning to cook, it also means you become efficient at it.  It creates confidence and it takes away excuses. 

If you already know how to cook, you can start the process of learning to cook nutritionally dense whole food meals.  I know lots of folks that are great cooks!  However, they haven’t quite learned yet how to cook those “healthier for you” options.  If you are a great cook but have goals to become a more fit, stronger, healthier version of yourself you have a GIANT leg up!  You can start creating new recipes out of your less optimal recipes by using substitutes or new ingredients.  If you need help figuring out what that is, consider consulting with a coach or trainer.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’ve officially figured it all out and I’m the best cook in the world.  I am certainly NOT THAT!  In fact, I am constantly learning new things plus, I am constantly failing.  It’s the failures that teach me something new every time.  As frustrated as I might be that I totally screwed something up I know deep down that I’ve learned from it and can make the correction next time.  Even when the kids are grumpy that dinner isn’t what was expected I am learning compassion and patience (first, for myself, and then for them).

How to Get Started:

First things first: Just get started!  Stop telling yourself you can’t cook.  It’s not that you can’t it’s just that you haven’t practiced it enough yet!  Cooking is like any other muscle.  The more you work it, the stronger you get.  Period.  So, even if you keep messing up, keep trying. 

Start simple: What you shouldn’t do is turn on the Food Network and start copying whatever the current chef is doing.  Some of those recipes are extremely complicated.  If you are just starting you want to find simple things first.  Like learning how to make a good omelet or scramble, or even hard-boiling an egg.  Perhaps learn how to grill a chicken or bake a salmon – but the simple kind, nothing extravagant.  Learn how to chop up veggies and create your own version of the perfect salad.  Whatever it is, keep in simple.  Once you’ve mastered simple, move on to the next level!

Have a handful of recipes in your back pocket:  I like to suggest people learn 4-5 recipes that they can make without fail.  To do this requires trying those recipes often.  And that’s okay.  Once you’ve mastered them, you’ll know that no matter what, you can cook for yourself and your family for most nights of the week, even if those recipes are on rotation.  Once mastered you can start trying different things with those recipes like adding different ingredients or finding substitutes to make it a little healthier.  Plus, by this time you’ll be ready to add on new things completely.  Personally, I like to try something new about once a week, on a day I know I won’t be pressed for time.

Seek and ye shall find: the world is your oyster!  These days you need not spend hours in a book store searching for the best cook book.  All you need is the internet.  Type your needs in google, Instagram or Pinterest and you’ll find every recipe you could imagine.  When your learning to cook these resources are incredible!

This is where it all began!  A friend started this for us during our engagement.  I still have it!  It’s where all of our favorite recipes are stored!

This is where it all began! A friend started this for us during our engagement. I still have it! It’s where all of our favorite recipes are stored!

Keep a book:  This isn’t a necessity, but I like to keep a binder of the recipes I find that aren’t already in one of my cookbooks.  I print out the page or write it down and then place it into a sheet protector.  I have the recipes labeled for entrée, desserts, snacks, etc.  I use this book as I plan our meals for the next week.  It helps spark ideas and keeps everything in one place.

 

If you find this helpful, please pass it on!  Or comment below!  Whatever you decide I wish you nothing but health, wellness, and most of all, balance.