4 Steps to Surviving Your First Cooking Experience

I’m a terrible cook. If you ask anyone that knows me, I promise they will agree. So when I decided to stay in Columbia this summer to get in-state tuition, I was terrified of the prospect of cooking for myself. And it doesn’t help that my good friend, of whom I chose to room with, doesn’t possess any culinary talent either.

Despite all of this, I decided to look at the situation from a positive perspective. Now I can finally learn my way around the kitchen! It’ll be great, I’ll get a Pinterest and pin all these great recipes, and they’ll be delicious.

I might have been thinking a bit too optimistically.

I did get a Pinterest, and I did create a cliché recipe board, which I attempted to make less cliché by naming it “Pinterest, teach me how to cook.” However, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. I’ve over-cooked chicken, bought bananas that browned way too soon and burnt my fair share of toast. Regardless, I’m a strong believer that everything is a learning experience, and I’ve learned plenty that I’d like to share with anyone else who might be having daily kitchen meltdowns.

1. Breathe
The goal here is not to become the next Wolfgang Puck, so remember that perfection is not necessary. The goal is to feed yourself, and if you’re like me, you want to do that in the cheapest and least fattening way possible. Try not to get discouraged if you try something new and it doesn’t work out because there’s no way you’re going to get it right the first time. Practice makes perfect, or in this case, it makes edible and hopefully enjoyable food.

2. Keep it simple 
Actually, it will become much easier once you start buying your own groceries and realize that fancy recipes equal a not-so-pleasant grocery bill. Ask Mom, Grandma, or whoever can cook in your family if they have any easy recipes to send you that require as few ingredients as possible. I personally am a big fan of good old fashioned spaghetti. Also, you can make almost any chicken recipe simple (which I learned the hard way -- I should have stuck to just lemon chicken).

3. Get a little creative 
Again, this isn’t "Top Chef," but you definitely can use your imagination to spice up your everyday meals. Sick of peanut butter and jelly? Try a peanut butter and banana or marshmallow fluff sandwich. Grilled cheese boring you? Throw some avocado and bacon in with it. There are countless ways that you can make everyday foods more interesting, and a great place to get inspired is -- dare I say it -- Pinterest!

4. Plan ahead
I’m not saying you need to know exactly what you’re going to eat everyday, but if you are going to try to cook something from scratch, or at least partially, plan at least a few days in advance so you can get ingredients and have plenty of free time to make it. My roommate and I realized neither of us got scheduled to work last Thursday night so we planned earlier in the week to make the chicken dish I mentioned earlier, and although it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had, making it myself made it taste that much better.

There is no need to fear the kitchen. Take these tips and explore that uncharted territory with confidence! Remember, this isn’t a contest; this is all about self improvement. You don’t have to be the next Julia Child to make a tasty meal all by yourself!

Have any funny independent cooking disasters or maybe successes you want to share with us? Leave them in the comments!

By: Nicole Kottmann | Image: Source


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