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Tips for timid (or terrible) cooks!
Okay, so you are on board with the idea that cooking food is probably much better than buying it from somewhere else. You know it will be fresh, not full of hidden fats and sugars and pretty unlikely to have anything in it that includes hydrogenated reconstituted E1258941234478 stabiliser preservative etc etc.
But secretly deep down you may be thinking you won't have the time to do it and it will be stressful and complicated and either a finger or your carrots are going to end up burnt!
I know this, because thats how I used to feel (and actually sometimes still do)! In fact, I have burnt a lot of things. So here are some tips to try and get this cooking ball rolling!
1. Start slowly.
Don't overwhelm yourself by committing to making every last crumb from scratch. It will be too hard to maintain, you'll give up and then feel bad! A great place to start is to just aim to start cooking one new thing every week.
2. Start simply.
I know I feel best when I follow a recipe, but some cookbooks are made for impressive dinner parties. There is nothing worse than staring down the barrel of a recipe with 25 ingredients and feeling sick to your stomach. Start simply - fresh fish covered in flour and gently fried in olive oil takes minutes to prepare and cook. Steam greens then drizzle with a bit of oil or lemon juice. Stir fry some vegetables with soy sauce, garlic and ginger. It doesn't have to be complicated. If you are like me and prefer to use recipes (I think they are great for inspiration and preventing boredom) then find ones that are easy, master those, then move on. Try some of the recipes I have tried and tested for your here.
3. Cook once, eat twice (or three or four times!).
It doesn't take much more effort to increase the quantities of what you are cooking. I like to cook one day and have the leftovers the next night. That way I only have to cook 3-4 times a week instead of 7. You could also use leftovers for a healthy lunch the next day. Some meals such as chillis, curries and bolognaises are ideal for bulk cooking, just double everything up and you can put some in the freezer for a future date when you can't be bothered to cook. Grains are also another useful one to cook extra, you can then use the excess as a basis for a salad for lunch the next day, or cooked differently the following night such as brown rice in egg fried rice. Whenever you cook something, try and and make a little more than you need.
4. Get things ready before you start
Get all the ingredients out before you do anything! There is nothing worse than getting halfway through and realising you don't have a key item! Also read the recipe through first so you know what you'll be doing and to get an idea of timings.
5. Expect to make mistakes
You are going to make mistakes - things will burn, taste awful and look horrendous - best you accept that now! Cooking is like learning any new skill, it takes practice and you won't get it right straight away, but you will get better! So learn from your mistakes, have a giggle and try again.
6. Appreciate what you are about to do
Before you start cooking, take a few breaths and a moment to appreciate the significance of what you are about to do. You are about to provide something wonderfully nourishing and literally energy and life-giving to your body and that of your family and friends, whether or not it works out that great - you are doing this with love - and don't be afraid to remind those people who will be eating it of the same fact!
Don't take it that seriously, have fun and enjoy!