Now some of you might scoff at this question, and if you do I applaud your intuitiveness. But for the rest of us, I gotta ask. Do you ever go to the store, and have no idea what to buy? See, take me for example. I’m a cooking novice. I just graduated from boiling water, and now I can semi-trust myself in the kitchen. The problem is, I, like a ton of kids during my generation. Was a latchkey kid. Both my parents worked. So when it came time for dinner more often than not it was whatever the easiest possible option was. And for my family that meant a lot of spaghetti. Growing up, I’d probably eat spaghetti three to four times a week. So if you asked me to boil some water and throw a can of ragu in a pot. I’ve got you no problem. But now I’m encountering an all-new set of challenges. You see, I’m an adult now, and I’m responsible for my meals. Which means. I can eat something besides spaghetti every night! But even though I’ve gained this awesome power over my destiny, I’ve come to a stark realization. I don’t know how to cook anything! If you asked me to saute’ something I’d look at you like you were speaking a different language. I practiced mincing garlic the other day, and I ended up mincing my index finger. I’m pretty much a culinary clod. But that’s why I’m writing this article. You see slowly, but surely I’m finding my footing in the kitchen. And if there’s hope for me. That means there’s hope for you too! So learn from my mistakes as we embark on this beginner’s guide of some essentials that you always want to keep in your kitchen!
Develop A System
Let’s begin with a piece of advice. You need to have your go-to’s. Trust me on this. Having a base of three to four meals that you can cook with your eyes closed, is an important foundation to lay when you first start meal planning. As excited as you are about getting into the kitchen, don’t overestimate yourself. Not even the most ardent home chefs want to cook an extravagant homemade meal every night. Having some easier meals that you can quickly conceive and create is an essential part of anyone’s repertoire. When you’ve come from work and you couldn’t be more exhausted. Trying to execute something complicated with calamari, isn’t going to yield worthwhile results. Having our go-to’s is how we as home cooks give ourselves a break. Even if it’s something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s one less meal that you have to think about! Having your set of go-to’s also informs what you’re buying at the store. So now that we have our foundation, let’s talk about what we’ll be shopping for, as we make it to the store.
A Proper Protein
In the last entry in this article, I mentioned that having go-to meals can serve as a foundation for your weekly meal schedule. But if your brain works anything like mine, you might be wondering. What then constitutes the foundation for a meal? The answer is protein! Protein is present in every cell of the human body. It’s how our body repairs itself, and it’s instrumental in keeping us healthy and in shape. We need protein more than almost any other kind of nutrient and because of that. Having a good source of protein is by far one of the most essential things you can keep in your kitchen.
Dark Leafy Greens
Next on our list let’s talk about superfoods. A superfood is a food that is very dense in nutrition, yet incredibly low in calories. The term superfood constitutes a large umbrella that many foods fall into. But a reliable place you can find them is in dark leafy vegetables, like kale or spinach. These are vitamin-rich foods, yet require very little energy for your body to consume. Which makes them a staple for any health-conscious home chef.
After spending the previous two sections talking about the virtues of healthy food, it may come as surprising that I’m advocating for one to keep snacks around, but hear me out. First off, healthy snacking is entirely possible thanks to fruits and nuts, etc. But I would like to make a point that indulging yourself once in a while is not a bad thing. As healthy as we want to be, we can’t assume that we’ll eat perfectly all the time. Allowing yourself to snack on foods you love in moderation is the best way to make sure you don’t over-indulge. You can’t succumb to a craving that isn’t there. And the best way to do this is to satiate the craving before it even begins!
When you first start cooking it’s tough. Not only is it about learning new recipes and following a million directions, but it’s about getting a feel for how something cooks. The sound of the sizzle as it signals when your burger is ready to turn. The thinness of which you can julienne a carrot. All of these are skills that come with patience and experience. So don’t be stressed. You’ll get it soon! And if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration on what to make. May I suggest this amazing guide on easy meals to make at home that is sure to delight you!