Learning to Cook: Resources to Make Home-Cooked Meals a Reality

Home-cooked meals seem to be becoming more and more a thing of the past.  In fact, the average American family spends 40% of their food budget on foods eaten outside of the house, and many of the foods they are eating at home are prepackaged foods that just need to be heated.  Eating out and using some convenience foods doesn’t necessarily always mean that you are eating less healthy.  However, many of these foods do have hidden fats and are very high in sodium, which can take a toll on our health and waistline.  Not to mention portions are usually 2 ½ times what a serving should be when eating out.

So, what’s the barrier?  Why aren’t we cooking anymore?  I find when I speak with my clients there are two major barriers:

1.)    Many people don’t know how to cook or feel confident with their cooking abilities.

2.)    Lack of time

Today, I’m going to address the first of these two…learning to cook.  When you don’t know what you’re doing in the kitchen it can be very intimidating.  But cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, and it can just be following a few step-by-step instructions.  There are also many resources out there that can help.  So, here are a few tips/resources to get started:

  • Watch the food network. Sometimes watching chefs make a meal can show you how a meal is to be prepared and can help teach techniques.
  • Utilize the Internet where you can find great “How-To” Videos: There are many websites that demonstrate how to prepare certain foods.  One of my favorites is: http://www.finecooking.com.  You can click on their “How-To” section and learn how to prepare vegetables, meats, etc.  You can also learn techniques like sautéing, steaming, etc.  Many of the items have very short videos that walk you through the whole process.

You can also take a look at your local grocery store and see if they offer any free cooking demonstrations.  If you live near a Whole Foods, they often offer cooking classes that are free or at a low cost.

For those who live in North Jersey, like me, here are a few more options:

  • Classic Thyme Cooking School in Westfield, NJ: http://www.classicthyme.com/welcome.html
  • Sharing Plate is a woman who does individual or group cooking classes in her home or she can come to your home.  She is located in Maplewood, NJ.  http://www.sharingplate.com/cooking-classes/
  • Ridgewood Culinary Studio has affordable cooking classes for adults. http://www.ridgewoodculinarystudio.com/classes/adult-classes.html
  • Wanna Be Chef is in Cresskill, NJ.  http://www.wannabeechef.com/
    • Just Do It! The best way of all to learn to cook is just to get into the kitchen and get started.  Not everything you make will be a masterpiece (trust me, not all of my meals are and I’ve been cooking for a long time).  However, there’s no better way to learn than by doing, and just like anything else, you get more confident and it gets easier the more you do it.