My first year out of college, I blush to admit, I subsisted on things such as frozen fish sticks (I baked them, of course), and what I called, “grown up macaroni and cheese”—those box mixes that look sophisticated but are really still just dry noodles and powdered cheese.
I have learned a few things over these last eight years. My cooking journey began when some new friends began inviting us over to their house regularly. They never had supper cooked when we arrived, and so, our friendship took off first in their kitchen, as we watched in awe while they prepared delicious meals for us.
I am an ordained minister, and so the language of “discipleship” is what comes to mind when I think of that first year of learning from our friends how to cook. They discipled us into their patterns of cooking simple, healthy meals. They bought us a beginner’s cook-book in addition to writing out recipes for us and helping us learn by watching. I highly recommend this relational model of learning!
If you are a beginner cook, open up to your friends and family who have some experience in the area. See if they will serve as mentor cooks for you. Ask them for simple recipes that you have enjoyed eating at their house in the past.
Another tip for starting out is to choose three or four meals to master. It can be as simple as spaghetti with meat sauce or taco soup. Mastering and beginning to incorporate a few meals regularly will get you in the habit of keeping a regular grocery list and ensuring your pantry is stocked. Those two tools will help you significantly as you get into the cooking routine.
There are many good reasons for learning to cook, but these two are my favorite:
1) It is healthy; cooking at home, mostly from scratch, is the best possible gift you can give your body and your families’ bodies. When you cook, you decide what you will put in your body. You can plan out balanced meals. You can learn how to fix healthy foods in ways that everyone at your house will enjoy.
2) It is cheap. Eating at home is the number one way to run a thrifty home. Until you sit down and figure it up, you will not believe how much of your income goes to eating out, snacking out and buying drinks like pop or coffee drinks.
My advice for the thrifty parent is: learn how to cook and to cook well! Find a mentor cook, pick up an awesome beginner cook-book, such as the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook For Dummies ® or the Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 10th Edition and have fun with this new challenge. You’ll never regret it.