Let’s face it, cooking can be a daunting task, especially if you do not know where to begin. Whether you are single living on your own headed to your new college dorm or married trying to cook dinner for your wife, learning how to cook is a must-have life skill for everyone. Cooking at home can not only be a healthier alternative but it can save you a lot of money in the long run. So, How do I start learning to cook?
Meal prepping is mandatory in the health and fitness industry. Eating specific healthy pre-made meals are beneficial to your health, wallet, and gym gains. Surprisingly, it can be easy to purchase groceries to prepare your meals for up to 5 days in advance. However, for some people having ready made meals is boring and repetitive.
As a chef I have the skills to be able to investigate my fridge and create something with the groceries I can see. In this article I will go over simple techniques and recipes I use at home, for quick easy meals and more in-depth healthy alternatives. As well as equipment you should have to make cooking easy, all to help you learn how to start cooking.
Table of Contents
Before we get into meal prepping and other recipes, you need kitchen equipment. Nothing crazy or too advanced, but simple items you absolutely need in order to cook a meal seamlessly. The following list is the bare minimum essentials, perfect for someone who is single moving out for the first time.
- Large Pot with Lid
- Large Non-Stick Pan
- Plastic Cutting Board
- Chefs Knife
- Mixing Bowls x2
- Smallware’s: Tongs, Wooden Spoon, Spatula, Can Opener, Strainer
- Kitchen Towels x2
- Food Storage Containers
Large Pot with Lid
Whether it be boiling pasta or heating a can of soup, a large pot with a lid it a must. Honestly, you could do without the lid, I like to have one as it helps boil water faster and keep food hot for longer.
Large Non-Stick Pan
A Large Non-Stick Pan is an absolute must. Perfect for cooking eggs and bacon for breakfast or making a pasta sauce. The Non-Stick makes cleanup easy, usually just a rinse under the sink and a wipe with one of your Kitchen Towels. The wider the pan the better. Since you only have one pan on this list, you may want to be cooking enough food to have leftovers the next day. Extra space in the pan will help you make less mess in the kitchen.
Plastic Cutting Board
Normally, I would say get a wooden cutting board. But you just moved out, those wooden boards can get expensive, heavy, and not easy to clean. Your plastic cutting board should be cheap, but still large enough where you can comfortably cut anything.
Global or Victorinox are both reliable and affordable brands for your first knife. The Chefs Knife is the most versatile knife you can purchase. You may want to think of purchasing a honing steel to keep the blade maintained. Believe it or not it is safer to work with a knife that is sharp rather than dull.
Mixing Bowls x2
Mixing bowls will help you keep organized while you work. You will always need somewhere, other than your cutting board, to put the food you are working with to help keep your kitchen tidy.
Smallware’s: Tongs, Wooden Spoon, Spatula, Can Opener, Strainer
I guarantee you will need these items listed at some point. If you have drawer space, I like to put them away, to maximize elbow room on your countertops.
Kitchen Towels x2
As a chef, your kitchen rag is your best friend. Always at your side ready to wipe off your fingertips or clean a countertop. When you start cooking, I recommend keeping one rag hanging out of your pocket and the other one for helping you with dishes.
Food Storage Containers
If you are cooking for yourself this is the most essential item on this list. The ability to safely store your leftovers for a later date is must. Make sure that your containers are airtight in order to keep fresher for longer.
Stocking the Pantry
When you’re cooking at home, life is much easier if you have a baseline of ingredients in your pantry ready to go. Things like flour and extra virgin olive oil. Keeping your pantry stocked with canned beans, dried pastas and ready-made soups are all great items to be able to cook with at a moments notice. Oats is another fantastic example of something that is nutritious, versatile, and quick to cook.
I recently wrote an article for learning how to cook from scratch at home, here I go into further detail about items you need at home to make cooking easier.
Advice to Start Cooking
When you begin, you are going to want to start with simple recipes that take minimal ingredients and are easy to produce. There is a wide variety of meals you can make with just one large pot, and you can also make extra food for later in the week. Every time I am out buying groceries, I buy enough to be able to eat the same meal more than once. This is where your airtight containers come in handy. Most cooked food stays fresh up to 5 days in a sealed container in your fridge.
Let’s get into some examples of meals that are easy to cook in bulk using your pot:
The list goes on and on. The amount of healthy, easy to cook alternatives on the internet is mind blowing. I recommend spending some time to do your own research on meals that have the foods you like.
Prepping meals for the week is an idea I have always been fond of, but not great at executing. I dream of exercising and into living the healthiest lifestyle I can. If I’m being honest, I’m not reaching my goals in that department as of late.
What has steered me away from having consistent meal preps in the past is the amount of time and planning it takes. Truthfully, I envy the people who do it right. In the video’s I’ve watched all it takes is to spend a day grocery shopping and cooking for your week, sounds easy right? It certainly can be if you’re eating boiled chicken breast and broccoli.
Here is a video by Remington James, he goes through a step-by-step guide on meal prepping. But in the video,
he only makes one meal. If you are able to eat one type of meal all week you have gained my respect.
I’d be foolish if I couldn’t admit that I think prepping your meals is the best way to cook at home, if you have the time and knowledge to make sure you’re getting all your nutrients.