Learning to Cook

Did you know that fewer people than ever are cooking meals from scratch at home these days? Yet cooking is an essential part of maintaining a healthy diet. When you hand over food prep and cooking to someone else, they decide the quality of ingredients, how much salt and fat, and what your portion size will be. Conversely, when you prepare your own meals, you control all of these variables. BONUS! You also save money. I’m passionate about helping people learn the skills that they need to be confident cooking in their own kitchen.

One of my favorite things to do is teach cooking classes. Interacting with others in the kitchen is so much fun! Helping connect people’s love for eating with the skills to make healthy food taste good (all by themselves!) stokes my own passion for healthy eating. Since not everyone is able to attend my in-person cooking classes, I thought it’d be fun to share with you my simple three steps to becoming a good home cook.

  1. Invest in good equipment. You don’t need a lot of tools to cook tasty and healthy food, but you do need a few key pieces. Here are a few that I think are the minimum for stocking your kitchen: chef’s knife, paring knife, cutting board, cast iron pan, one medium and one small heavy-bottomed pot with lids, dutch oven, wooden spoons and heat-resistant spatula, whisk, 2 cup liquid measuring cup, dry measuring cups, measuring spoons, various sizes glass or metal bowls, and a colander. With this equipment on hand, I can cook almost anything.
  2. Collect some basic reliable recipes. There are lots of sources out there and many are free! Online I would recommend: CookingLight.com, HealthyAperture.com, and EatingWell.com as good places to start. I subscribe to Cooking Light magazine and recommend it often. The recipes are usually not difficult and feature easy-to-find ingredients. Once you find a recipe you like, put it into a notebook or folder so that you can go back to it often. Eventually, you will create your own repertoire of healthy and delicious meals that you and your family enjoy.
  3. Practice! On your own and with friends, cook frequently to master basic skills such as vegetable prep, how to cook various types of meat and seafood, and combining spices for best flavors. If you are able, take a cooking class. Many community schools and colleges offer inexpensive classes in the evenings or hire a private instructor for one-to-one attention. There is no substitute for just getting in there and doing it and the investment of time and money (if you take a class) will be worth it.

That’s it. There are so many different techniques, flavors, ingredients, and cuisines to try.  Once you start, I bet you’ll fall in love with cooking. In my mind, we all have to eat, we might as ell eat well.  BTW, expect some failures along the way – I’ve had some epic ones myself!  As long as the food is edible, I eat them anyway because I hate waste. Every time it doesn’t come out perfect, I learn something to do next time. I’m a good cook, but I’m still learning too! For those of you who are avid cooks too, what would you add to my list?

Follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/dietitiansherry for inspiration and to see what I’ve got cooking in my home kitchen!

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