To Do: Learn How to Cook

Today, my mom and I were out running errands so we stopped at a little local market to pick up lunch. They had a deli and a case of prepared food. I was delighted to pick out some marinated beans, a grain and bean salad, and these mouth-watering grilled artichokes (I’m a big artichoke fan). A totally vegan meal, in other words.

Later, I got to thinking about how much cheaper that meal would have been if I’d made it myself. The artichokes were especially pricey. They were amazing, so it was worth it, but that’s not the point. I won’t always be able to go out and purchase prepared healthy foods like delectable grilled vegetables all the time. Those things tend to cost way more per calorie than less healthy choices like fast food. And I won’t always have my mom or dining hall chef around to cook for me.

It might surprise you that someone who loves food so much and wants to be a nutritionist actually knows very little about cooking. I can make scrambled eggs, toast, macaroni and cheese, and I recently learned how to prepare rice. I’ve actually made pizza from scratch with my boyfriend, but I don’t think I could manage it alone. I think I have good instincts about what flavors are good together–I come up with great combinations of ingredients for salads, sandwiches, wraps, you know, things that don’t require cooking. I’ve also got microwaving popcorn down to a science. But I don’t know what to do to cook with meat or vegetables really, at least not instinctually. I could follow a recipe without burning the house down, I think. But why would I bother when I have a meal plan or when my mom is around, who is so instinctual about how much longer to cook something, how much more spice to add,  and who can grate and chop circles around me.

The fact that I can’t escape though, is that sooner than I’d like I’ll be in a position where I’ll have to prepare a lot of my own food, when I move off campus. I can’t just eat popcorn for dinner or make myself salads with canned beans everyday. I need to vary up my skill set. I want to learn how to make soups, sauces, pasta dishes, fish dishes, how to sauté, bake, steam, and roast things. I’m actually taking a cooking lab at school next semester that everyone raves about, so I’m super excited for that. In the meantime though, I want to get started this summer. I told you that I’m getting my family to adopt Meatless Mondays. Well, my idea is that I’ll also cook dinner those days, under my mom’s supervision at first. I want to get to a place where cooking doesn’t seem so intimidating.

I hope you’ll root for me as I give this a try. The first Meatless Monday in my house is actually going to be on Tuesday, because apparently we simply have to have meat on Memorial Day. Anyway, look out for my post!

Do you have tips for a cooking beginner? How about healthy meatless recipes that would satisfy a couple of carnivores?

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