Remember moving out of your parent's house for the very first time? Remember that hilarious, rebellious feeling of ordering pizza at 2 am because no one can tell you not to? Some of the American college experiences make the greatest memories, but they also create the worst habits. Living on your own, especially for the first time, can be an amazing and eye-opening experience.
It can also instill life-long horrible habits. Habits like relying on take out and happy hour specials to feed yourself nearly every night of the week.
Cooking should be something you begin to do as soon as you begin to live on your own in order to create healthy lifestyle habits. Not only is it costly to depend on restaurants for meals, but it's also not the healthiest way to be eating.
When you cook for yourself it doesn't have to be Whole30 or Keto to be healthy, but the fact that you are in control of the ingredients gives you the power to make average meals just a little bit healthier than they would be at the restaurant.
Using less salt, healthier breading, substituting bad fats for good ones are all simple changes you can make at home while cooking to give yourself a healthier meal for your body and wallet.
How Do I Start?
You may be asking yourself, where do I start? You've got a stove top and an oven. You've got a cutting board, pots, pans, and a fridge. What's the next step? How do I actually get into cooking for myself?
To make things easy, start with picking out a few recipes and planning ahead for what you might want to eat that week. Lucky for you, this is the 21st century and cookbooks are a dying industry. All you have to do is get on the web and search: "chicken dinner recipes easy." You'll get millions of hits, and most of them are likely going to be linked to the site Pinterest.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to get yourself an account on the site, but it's not necessary. This site is a collection of millions of recipes, instructions, tutorials, and guides to just about anything and everything.
I get almost all of my recipes from Pinterest. You can be as specific as you need to be to find a recipe that works for you. "Thirty-minute beef dinner," or "dump and bake casseroles," or "kid friendly vegan dinners." Pretty much anything you want to make, someone out there has a recipe for you.
What Do I Buy?
Alright, so you've picked out your recipes and you're ready to get cooking. Well, hold on let's pause. First, we need the ingredients. This part of the process can be intimidating and hard. Grocery stores can be a mess to navigate. Things you for sure need to have on hand each week are meats, vegetables, and bread.
Without naming specific types of each, they are the three key ingredients to any meal. Better yet, any meal can be whipped up from having just a few of each lying around. It's also important to build up your army of sauces and spices. If I had to list my top 3 used spices it would be garlic powder, pepper, and dried parsley.
You can season meat with them, you can season veggies with them, you can mix them into melted butter and season bread with them! Spices can be pretty inexpensive, so buy a few a test out their flavors.
Paprika and chili powder are some other great, flavorful choices to have on hand. Besides spices, you always want to have things like pasta noodles, rice, vegetable oil, butter, or soy sauce.
These minor ingredients are staples in so many dishes, it's helpful to have them at all times. But let's get back to the grocery list. Pick out versatile vegetables that can be included in more than one dish.
Also, keep in mind their expiration and make sure they won't be sitting in your fridge until they need to be tossed. It's easier on the wallet when you have most things on hand and only need to buy a few recipe-specific ingredients.
Why Should I Bother?
Why should you bother putting in the effort to cook for yourself? Besides the money and health reasons I mentioned earlier, cooking can become the best part of your everyday life.
Have you ever heard of visual progress? For some people, seeing a project visibly go from the beginning phase to the end can lead to a release of Seratonin. In other words, some people find cooking to be very stress-relieving when they can see their dishes come together from the form of ingredients.
Let's say you've had a god-awful day. Everything that could go wrong has. You come home and you get in the kitchen and you lay out the ingredients for a meal. In about thirty minutes something in your day will have gone right and by the hands of no one other than yourself, and you get to eat it.
You've successfully done something with your day and you've got a hot meal ready. If you don't like doing the dishes, well... I don't know what to tell you. That's life.
The better you become at handling dishes promptly and cleaning up after yourself the less you hate it, that's my only tip. Don't let them pile up, knock em' out while your food is still cooling down. Since I'm over here barking at you to start cooking for yourself, I supposed I'd better share an easy recipe that I started out with.
Cheesy Taco Pasta
You will need:
- 1 lb of ground beef
- taco seasoning packet
- some salsa
- shredded cheese (at least 2 cups
- Boil your noodles and set aside.
- Brown your hamburger in a large skillet.
- Mix in the taco seasoning with hamburger meat.
- Add your noodles and salsa to the meat and mix together.
- Stir in your cheese and mix until melted and blended.
If you already love to cook, tell me what got you started in the kitchen. Was it mom or grandma sharing family recipes? Or a group of friends who loved to bake? Following that question, what's your favorite meal to make? How did you come across the recipe?
For those who have yet to start cooking, what do you feel is holding you back? A bad memory in the kitchen? Lack of confidence in your ability? I challenge you to try something new this weekend! What recipes could you see yourself getting started with? Or if you are firm in your belief of anti-cooking, tell me why! Show me a little bit about the life of not cooking and why you like it that way!