The home cooked meal, a tradition worth keeping.

Tips To Help You Become a Competent At-Home Cook


I may not be able to convince you that cooking your own meals is the way to go, but it is easier than you think.  Although I have worked as a culinary professional, cooking at home and/or for family is a skill that just about anyone can master.  In fact, the skills that I acquired as a professional may have been useful at times, but certainly weren't necessary in my role as an at-home cook.  You simply need to love food, and have an openness towards learning to achieve competency as an at-home cook.  If you are raising a family of your own, learning how to cook your favorite foods may seem challenging at first, but it is well worth the effort, I promise you.  You will not only save money but acquire the skills needed to cook for yourself and family, as well as the peace of mind that accompanies the use of quality ingredients.  

For me, the transition from a working cook to an at-home cook was slow.  Since I had training in healthful meal preparation, I couldn't help but feel guilty when I failed to apply those skills at home.  It took me awhile to assimilate to the role of a multi-tasking mom.  Somewhere along the way however, while preparing three meals a day Monday through Friday along with on-demand snacks, I evolved into an efficient cook and focused shopper.   

Here are some helpful tips to guide you on your way towards becoming a competent at-home cook:

-Keep it simple.  Start with basic, satisfying meals.  A meal of hamburgers, oven baked fries and a salad for example can be prepped within 15 minutes and cooked from oven to table within the hour.  By purchasing one pound of ground beef, whole grain rolls, frozen french fries (non-hydrogenated please) and a bag of salad you'll not only be serving a meal of higher nutritive value but saving money as well, in excess of $5 saved for each hamburger alone (as compared to Applebee's a popular nation wide fast food chain). 

-Be prepared to invest money and time.  Even if your excuse has always been that you don't have the time to cook, there is a solution.  Put simply, consider the time and money that you invest in eating out.  Now substitute that budget of time and money into learning how to cook at home.  It can be as easy as that and it's worth it, just buying lunch instead of packing your own costs $2,000 a year on average.  It won't happen overnight, but if you really want to save money and eat more healthfully, preparing your own meals is the right choice.

-Don't expect accolades.  When you are cooking for family, don't expect to be appreciated for your efforts.  Kids are generally narcissistic (it's normal), and your partner is probably overloaded with his or her own stress from the day to notice your efforts.  If you are lucky enough to get everyone together for a meal, be grateful for that as well as the fact that you created a homemade nourishing meal.

-Planning and practice.  Just like most things, cooking at home takes a bit of planning and practice.  "It’s not the cooking as much as it is the planning that makes me dread the 5 o’clock hour. When I’m organized enough to make these decisions the night before, or in the morning, and take advantage of the two Crock Pots I own, I feel better about dinner" says Dan Treese in an article by Diana Reese of The Washington Post.  Also, keep in mind that some of your favorite foods may be culturally different from your own, and require ingredients that you are not experienced in using, but don't let it deter you; give it a try.  Mistakes are a possibility, but you will learn from them.  Eventually, you will master your favorite meals just the way you like them.

-Use recipes with reviews.  Some websites have reviews attached to recipes.  This feature will come in handy, especially when you are cooking a particular dish for the first time.  Sites like All Recipes and Food Network have ample reviews to read, before starting your recipe.  

Interested in healthier dessert options? You might want to consider my new cookbook The Little Dessert Cookbook Vegan coming soon!  Send me your e-mail and I will let you know when it is ready for re-release.