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Author Information

Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

Starting From Scratch: Getting Back Into the Swing of Cooking and Baking

For most people, cooking and baking are things they either enjoy doing or not. For those who enjoy it, it comes naturally and they don’t worry about scheduling time for it or wondering if they’ll be able to or not. Up until recently, however, I was not one of those people. I’ve always loved cooking and baking since I was a child, but my previous living situation rarely allowed me time to be able to cook things for myself, let alone bake things for fun.

Though I loved the people I was living with, I never quite felt at home in their kitchen and always felt like I was getting in the way of their meal preparation. I came to rely too often on microwave foods or pre-made meals I could shove quickly into the oven and not have to worry about. It was only within the last six months, when I moved in with a friend, that I rediscovered my love for both cooking and baking. Though it was kind of like riding a bicycle in that I never quite lost my skills, I was rusty when it came to the speed and ease with which I could prepare meals and recipes. It took awhile, but now I enjoy and am more excited about cooking and baking than I have ever been before. Below are seven tips I used to rediscover my love of cooking that I think would work for everyone.

Schedule Time

This one is important, especially when you’re first trying to get back in the swing of things. It can be discouraging that preparing meals can take longer than it had in the past, and it can feel like you’ve spent your entire day cooking. If you schedule time (and especially in the beginning it might be good to schedule more time than you think you’ll need) then the day never feels wasted and soon it’ll become part of your daily routine again. On days where you have more time to spare, you can schedule extra time for more ambitious cooking or baking projects. Though scheduling time might make it seem like a chore at first, the more repetition you have with it, the quicker you’ll rediscover how much you enjoy it.

Image Credit: thethingiskat on Instagram

Remove Distractions

This was one of the most difficult and most intimidating steps for me. When I say “distractions” I mean things I used as a crutch, like frozen food, or the biggest one, the microwave. I realize there are plenty of good uses for the microwave, but I was using it to make everything over the past two years. I would basically only buy things at the store that I knew I could cook in the microwave.

When I moved to my current place, my roommate didn’t have a microwave, and though I still had mine from college in storage at my mom’s house, I wasn’t in a huge rush to bring it over. We also didn’t have space for one in our kitchen. I reluctantly decided to go without one, my first time in my entire life, and it ended up being what gave me the push to start cooking and baking again. Since I knew I didn’t have it to fall back on, I was going to have to start cooking again out of necessity. Though I know it’s not practical for everyone to give up their cooking crutches, for me living without a microwave was not only practical, it was a godsend.

Social Media

Social media can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to food preparation. Sites like Pinterest and Tumblr are a wealth of information, tips, and recipes, but it can quickly become overwhelming. It can also be potentially discouraging to see so many elaborate recipes that maybe you’re not currently able or equipped to make. Social media helped give me ideas about how to tweak some current recipes I had, as well as give me ideas for easy weeknight dinners. Even just seeing pictures of food from some of the “food porn” tumblrs made me want to put my own spin on those dishes or try something new. Try to use social media as an inspiration, and once you feel inspired, they’ll have just the recipe you’re looking for.

Rediscover Old Favorites

Image Credit: thethingiskat on Instagram

Cooking your favorite meal or recipe can be a big push to get started again. One of the first things I did when I moved into my new place was bake cookies. I didn’t make anything out of the ordinary or challenging, just plain old chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t even use my mom’s old recipe, instead I used one I found on the back of a package of chocolate chips. Though they turned out fine, that wasn’t the important part. What was important was that I was putting forth the effort. I’ve made chocolate chip cookies hundreds of times before, and this wasn’t any different. It felt normal and familiar; it felt right. By making something familiar, like an old favorite recipe or a childhood favorite meal, you’ll realize that you never forgot how to cook and most likely you’ll find that same spark from before that’ll help you remember how much you enjoy it.

Try Something New

Challenge yourself. Though old familiars are great, by trying something new, you can find that cooking and baking can be more exciting than you remember. I’d never cooked fresh fish before on the stove top, but I tried it recently, and it turned out so well I did it again a few nights later. I’d never made pancakes completely from scratch, but my roommate and I gave it ago and they were the best blueberry pancakes I’d ever had. Even just adding a new ingredient into a meal can open up a whole new world. Social media and even basic Google searches can be of assistance if you’re looking to add something new to your arsenal and aren’t sure where to start. The public library is also always well stocked with cookbooks if you’re looking for ideas or want to try a new type of cuisine.

Consult Your Friends

If your friends are into cooking, they can be just as big of a help as cookbooks and social media. Ask them what they like to make or what ingredients they like to use. Go to the store or the farmers market with them and bounce ideas off each other. Even cook a meal with them. I’ve gotten lots of ideas and inspirations just watching my roommate prepare his meals. Sometimes I end up enjoying foods I’ve never liked before because of how he’s prepared them. Never be afraid to ask them how they keep themselves accountable either. They might have other tips to give you to help keep you on track with cooking and baking consistently.

Cook For Others

Image Credit: Betty Crocker

Image Credit: Betty Crocker

Accountability is key when trying to get back into cooking. It’s easy to go grab takeout for yourself if you decide not to cook, but you can’t do that if you have friends or family expecting a home cooked meal. When my brother and sister-in-law had their baby, I signed up to bring them meals on specific days. Though I dragged my feet on it a little bit, I knew they were expecting me to make something, so I found a recipe for baked ziti online, as well as a recipe for peanut butter cookies. I hadn’t made either before, but I found recipes that were in my comfort zone and took minimal time and ingredients. They both turned out well, and I had two new recipes to add to my personal stash. My coworkers all have a sweet tooth, so sometimes I’ll mention to them that I want to bake something (and I always make enough to share) as a way to make sure that I follow through. If I don’t make something, I’m usually only disappointing myself, but if I tell other people that I’m going to, then they’ll expect something and I don’t want to disappoint my coworkers.

(Optional) Document Your Journey

A picture of food is worth a thousand “mmmm’s”. Though this is an optional step, posting pictures of things you’ve cooked and baked can help inspire others and give you a nice ego boost. I post a lot of things I’ve cooked and baked on Instagram, and it’s always nice to have friends say that something I made looks good or that they want it. Who knows, maybe your pictures will inspire someone else!

Hopefully these tips will help you if you’re trying to muster the courage to start cooking or baking again. And please feel free to share any tips that you might have in the comments!

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  1. The Benefits of Cooking More at Home | The Hudsucker - June 2, 2016

    […] {For more tips on how to get started, check out, “Starting from Scratch: Getting Back Into The Swing of Cooking and Baking“} […]

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