Learning to cook for yourself at home is a valuable skill that can save you money and make others happy. The learning process can be daunting, but getting better just means doing it, not cooking the best meal of your life every time.
Photo by Seniju.
In this age of food porn and gourmand television, becoming a better cook is both easier than ever and a psychological challenge. It's hard to find the motivation to cook for yourself when you know you can't cook something as good as your favourite TV chef or local take out place. Marian Bull at Food52 shares some words of wisdom for moving past your mental block:
With each stint in the kitchen you'll familiarise yourself with the different bits that add up to a mass of knowledge. You'll learn to clean as you go — this is a helpful tip. You'll learn that frying a grilled cheese over very high heat burns your bread before your cheese has any shot at melting. Maybe next time you'll turn things down, or finish your sandwiches in the oven. You'll learn that in-season produce (e.g. the stuff you can find at the farmers market, stuff that doesn't come from a different hemisphere) tastes better. You'll learn that sometimes dinner is just good, and doesn't have to be any sort of revelation. That was a big one for me.
The key is to just keep cooking. Will your dinner tonight be amazing? Maybe, but probably not, and that's ok. Over time you'll get better and figure out what you're good at and what you like to cook. You may long to taste your freshly cooked meal and shout "Oh my goodness this is amazing!" but you'll never get there if you make a lot of so-so dishes between now and then.
With more time on your hands than ever, it's a good time to practice along to your favourite chefs. Don't feel the pressure to share a photo of your meal. Cook for yourself, cook for your family or your flatmate. Stop cooking for the internet and it will give you time to grow into being a better cook.