Updated: Jun 18
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Nope. I don't cook. I'm a personal trainer and health coach, but I don't like cooking.
I don't like cooking because it's messy, lots of work, and time-consuming. In college, I usually ate out because 1) I didn't have the time, 2) I didn't have the energy, and 3) it's hard to cook for one person. As I moved into the workforce and then got married, I realized the importance of eating at home for my health and wallet. That's when I started putting my essential cooking skill to the test and figuring out the best shortcuts to take in the kitchen.
None of my go-to recipes are hard to make. Most of them I have memorized. My recipes don't have more than ten ingredients or three steps to complete. I eat real food. Beef and potatoes. Pasta and bread. Brownies and cookies. I don't discriminate; I just try to make it myself.
Because of my career choices, I have realized the importance of the food I put into my body. My eating habits are just as important as working out regularly or getting enough sleep. The simplest way to ensure that what I'm eating is wholesome and natural is to cook it myself.
Many people get lost just taking one step into the kitchen. Don't be intimidated. Cooking is a skill. It has to be practiced just like anything else. Anyone can learn to cook, and anyone can be a good cook.
The other part of a healthy diet is the amount of food you consume and the frequency you eat it, so a quick note: Portion sizes matter; just because you made the food at home doesn't mean you can eat twice as many calories as you need. The frequency of consumption also matters; you can't eat dessert after every meal.
Basic Cooking Skills:
1. Basic Chopping/Knife Skills
When you are in the kitchen, using a knife is often required. A recipe might call for chopped onions or minced garlic. You should know which utensil to use, how to hold it, and how to cut with it. The following videos are all you need to know about basic knife skills; I also included videos about preparing the two most commonly used ingredients that require cutting: onions and garlic.
Joshua Weissman | The Only Knife Skills Guide You Need
Tasty | Basic Knife Skills
How to Chop an Onion: Gordan Ramsey | How To Finely Chop An Onion | Gordon Ramsay
Prep Garlic: Jamie Oliver | Jamie Oliver talks you through preparing garlic
2. Cooking Meat
If you love meat as I do, you try to have it for every meal. Most of my meals consist of meat, veggie, and starch like chicken, rice, and spinach for dinner. When learning the basics, cooking meat should be one of the first skills you acquire. The following videos are the basics of cooking meat.
Browning Ground Beef: Cooking with Kimberly | How to Brown Ground Beef: Cooking with Kimberly
Clean & Delicious | BAKED CHICKEN BREAST | how to make a juicy baked chicken breast
Downshiftology | BAKED CHICKEN BREAST | juicy, tender, easy, and oh, so flavorful!
Tasty | 5 Easy Ways To Cook Fish
Joshua Weissman | How To EASILY Cook Fish Without Messing It Up
Meat Doneness: Cooking Guide | Meat Doneness Explained, from Rare to Well-Done
My favorite meat recipe? Caesar Oven-Baked Chicken
3. Cooking Pasta
Health aside, pasta is an easy food to make and, depending on the type, full of nutritional value. It is often part of my weeknight meal rotation. A can of pasta sauce, ground turkey, and penne pasta makes the perfect dinner. I would encourage you to add it to your arsenal of quick meals.
How To Cook The Perfect Pasta | Gordon Ramsay
4. Make a Baked Potato
Whatever stage of life you are in, potatoes are cheap and easy to cook, great for a busy weeknight. They are so versatile; you could eat them every day for a week and not get bored. Lots of videos out there show you fancy ways to cook potatoes, but the following video is all you need to start eating baked potatoes regularly.
Food with Len | Baked Potato Easy Oven Baked Recipe
5. Cook Rice
Another quick and easy starch that is versatile and never boring is rice. My household eats it about twice a week with chicken or pork. Usually, I make it with salt, but sometimes I spice it up and add a ton of butter or copy Chipotle's Cilantro Lime Rice. I recommend a rice cooker because they are cheap and you can set it and forget it.
Tasty | How To Cook Perfect Rice Every Time
Downshiftology | HOW TO COOK RICE (PERFECTLY) | + tips, meal prep and rice recipes
My favorite rice dish? Cilantro Lime Rice
6. Making Eggs
Another quick, cheap, and easy meal is anything that involves eggs一omelettes, breakfast burritos, etc. A basic cook should know how to crack an egg, separate the yolk from the white, and make scrambled or hard-boiled eggs. The following videos can help you achieve the perfect egg.
Tasty | How To Cook Perfect Eggs Every Time
Gordon Ramsay | Gordon Ramsay's Scrambled Eggs
7. Follow a Recipe
Following a recipe is often overlooked because it's so essential that advanced cooks often assume everyone knows the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon or that the instructions might require a pan or utensil you don't have. If you haven't read a recipe in a while or ever, don't be intimidated; the following videos will help!
how to read a recipe | Vanessa Perrone
How To Read A Recipe | Kelsey Ligman
8. Convert Measurements/Double a recipe
Taught in every home-ec class across the US, converting measurements are basic math and everyday cooking, especially if you follow a new recipe or want to double an old recipe. Follow the following video closely, and you will know all you need to know!
Increasing & Decreasing Recipes | Janet Stephens
Once you have these basics, you can start making meals. Scrambled eggs for breakfast, chicken and rice for lunch, and spaghetti for supper. All you have to do is start. Start filling your brain with quick and easy meals so you can cook at home.
What to Buy at the Grocery Store:
Whatever you want! Easier said than done; grocery shopping is what you make it. Every week you should have a list. Your list should include ingredients for two or three recipes you will make, ingredients from the basic cooking skills list (meat, rice, potatoes, pasta, and eggs), and anything else that fills your dinner plate each week.
Ensure you have all the essential cooking tools: pots and pans, measuring spoons, cutting board, knives, plates, and silverware.
Some trial and error may be required. You will buy ingredients that will go bad in your fridge or sit in your cupboard until the next time you move, but that's okay. It's all part of the process.
There you have it: cooking and grocery shopping from someone who doesn't cook. By now, you have probably figured out that I do cook, but not like most personal trainers or health coaches. I refuse to be a slave to the kitchen or sacrifice simplicity, but I also refuse to fill my body with crap.
I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!