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The Beginners Guide to Cooking for Picky Eaters and New Cooks

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A few years ago, I could have used a beginner’s guide to cooking to provide me with any knowledge about the kitchen. I used to be an extremely picky eater who lived on only chicken and pasta (strictly no veggies), and I had no experience in the kitchen. At all. In fact, as a teenager when I would babysit neighborhood kids I would come in recommending pizza for the kiddos with the disclaimer “I can’t cook.”

The Beginners Guide To Cooking

In college, I got-by thanks to the dining hall, fast food, and making the absolute basics for myself. It really wasn’t until meeting my boyfriend in my last year that I started breaking out of my comfort zone. I was very hesitant in ordering different kinds of food at restaurants, but found I was more open to trying food when I made it myself. It is reassuring to see how a meal go from start to finish. The flexibility to emphasize some flavors I knew I loved.

I am proof that, with patience and a little bit of creativity, it’s possible to adapt from not liking any vegetables whatsoever to enjoying such a wide variety of food. I want to challenge you to take a chance and try cooking a new food for yourself! Even if you’re slightly uncomfortable with some veggies or feel like the recipe won’t turn out like you hope, the trial-and-error process can be a fun experience. And always, I’m here to help!

beginner's guide to cooking

What is Cooking for Beginners?

I aim to provide you with delicious recipes made with fresh ingredients that you can try confidently at home. All the recipes I share are ones I’ve made many times myself and tweaked to fit my preferences in taste. We all have different tastes, and I’ll make sure to highlight how you can modify each recipe to make it your own.

Most ingredients are probably available in your pantr,y, with plenty of fresh produce to supplement. It’s perfectly okay to make changes and not follow the recipe exactly. I encourage you to test out different combinations of spices and vegetables you prefer, and start incorporating them into as many different meals as you can.

It’s easy to make blanket statements about not liking a food, such as brussel sprouts or mushrooms, but it might just be because they’ve never been presented to you in a way that you like! Of course, sometimes you just won’t prefer a type of food and that is perfectly okay. But I think it’s really worth your while TRY and give whatever that is a chance in a variety of different cooking styles.

Never in a million years would picky-eater-Kalin even think about trying a brussel sprout, but now I absolutely LOVE brussels when they’re in sweeter dishes tossed in maple or charred in spicy Chinese dishes.

I’m not the biggest fan of them in all the ways they can be prepared, but what matters is I found ways that work for me and I’m no longer intimidated by them. Now when I go to restaurants and see an exciting appetizer that includes brussel sprouts, I don’t immediately shoot it down and am actually curious about if I will enjoy them prepared in that manner.

Your tastes can change, and you’ll never know what yummy dishes you’ll find unless you take that first bold step.

How to Begin cooking?

There a few staple items you’ll want to ensure you have before jumping into a new recipe. Most recipes don’t require much hardware and the meals I gravitate towards keep the ingredients list minimal. This list is just a suggestion and if you don’t have everything, you can always swap it out for anything that works for you.

In addition to this list, I also have a slow cooker and instant pot I use regularly, and an air fryer occasionally. They are by no means necessities but fun tools to supplement my oven and stove.

Cooking Essentials for Beginners

  • Utensils/Hardware
    • Cutting knife
    • Cutting board(s) (one for meat, one for everything else)
    • Skillet/frying pan
    • Cooking pot
    • Baking sheet and Aluminum foil!
    • Stirring utensils (spatulal, spoon, stirrer)
  • Pantry Staples
    • Rice
    • Pasta
    • Black beans
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Coconut milk
    • Olive oil
    • Chicken broth
    • Herbs/spices: lawry’s, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion salt, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper
  • Produce
    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Bell peppers
    • Jalapenos
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Zucchini
    • Green onions
    • Not always, but nice to rotate in occasionally:  ginger, sweet potatoes, cilantro, roma tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus
  • Refrigerated Goods
    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Butter
    • Greek Yogurt
beginner's guide to cooking

Tips for Success For Beginner Cooks and Picky Eaters

  • Be patient with yourself and understand that it won’t necessarily be easy at first.

It takes time and practice to really feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen. Take some time to practice your knife chopping skills and try juggling food on a few burners. It IS going to be a little messy at first and will take a few attempts for you find your flow.

  • All of us make mistakes

Sometimes even when you make every effort to follow a recipe perfectly, it still doesn’t turn out like the pretty blog pictures show. Don’t get disheartened if this happens and give it your best shot another time. You’ll find that as you start making recipes repeatedly each time will be a little different than the last. There’s so much wiggle room in cooking and changes aren’t always bad things, but can be improvements! We can learn from our missteps and always implement changes in future attempts.

  • Share successes and struggles

I would be lying if I said half of the recipes I tried came out perfectly, and I want to be honest when they don’t turn out as planned. I want this blog to be a learning tool for all of us to share tips and advice and improve our cooking together.

FAQ’s About Getting Started in the Kitchen

What if I don’t have much time to cook?

  • Most of the recipes that I find myself making frequently are quick and can be completed start to finish within an hour. I work from 9AM-5PM and when I get home from work I’m on the verge of being hangry and  am tired after a long day. I don’t want to spend all evening in the kitchen and I want food in my belly ASAP. I make sure to indicate which recipes take a little more time and effort.

What recipes should I start out with?

  • I’ve found the best way to introduce new food into your diet is to start out with food that you are comfortable with and slowly branch out from there. If you love chicken breast you could try preparing it in different ways to learn new techniques (pan-fry vs. baking, whole breasts vs. pieces, etc.), try incorporating it into a variety of sauces or coating with different combinations of spices. For me, one of the first meals my boyfriend encouraged me to try was carnitas. Tacos were definitely in my comfort zone, but I hadn’t ever eaten much pork and I didn’t like onions. I was able to create my taco like I normally would, but swapping the ground beef for the pulled pork and sprinkling a few dices onions

How do I start implementing home-cooked meals into my routine instead of eating out?

  • When it’s 5PM after a long day at work, I admit it takes discipline to cook for myself and avoid drive-thrus or ordering carry out. Finances are a personal motivator for me. I’ve hear my parents preach this since I was little, but it really is true that your money goes a lot farther when put towards groceries instead of eating out. It’s all about finding balance and what works best for you. We cook mostly during the week, even though we’re tired after work, and treat ourselves on the weekends. It can be a challenge, but it gets easier as it’s incorporated into your normal routine.

Do you follow a particular diet?

  • I do not follow a specific diet but try to be conscious of the ingredients and amounts that I use and make healthy choices. I’ve discovered “intuitive eating” recently and am really pleased with its philosophy. Intuitive eating is essentially an eating style that promotes a healthier attitude toward food compared to more restrictive eating that can be seen with diets. The idea is that you eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. Please always feel free to make substitutions to my recipes to fit your dietary needs!

Where do you get your inspiration for recipes?

  • My inspiration for new meals comes from everywhere around me. Meals at restaurants, cooking shows, and recipes on other blogs, and like to make them my own. All recipes that are pulled directly from other sources will credit the author at the top of the page.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about Cooking for Beginners

Be brave! Be patient with yourself. I’m here to encourage you and provide you with guidance on where to begin. Cooking is a really fun experience and I hope that you’ll grow as a cook and learn tips that you use for the rest of your life.

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beginner's guide to cooking for picky eaters and new cooks
beginner's guide to cooking

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3 thoughts on “The Beginners Guide to Cooking for Picky Eaters and New Cooks”

  1. I felt like I wrote the first section of this, as I relate to it so much. 😍 I am still such a picky eater, I am willing to try new foods and recipes, but I am still picky. My partner is also a picky eater, but we have used Lockdown to try new recipes, so this blog post will help so much.

    This post made me feel okay about being such a picky eater, so thank you. As you state, it is sometimes the way food is presented to you, so trying foods in different ways is good!

    Thank you for sharing your list of items to get started and helpful pieces of advice for picky eaters. I will be referring back to this blog post; thank you for sharing.

  2. This was a very thorough and nice post. I used to be a picky eater years ago but then I became the cuisine explorer. That pizza for kids ead funny lol. Didnt k ow you also have a 9 to 5. Great post for newbies loved those success tips. Xx
    Isa A. Blogger

  3. That pizza for kids was funny lol. Didnt know you had a 9 to 5 too. I’m not a newbie but yea j used to be a picker years ago. Then I became a total cuisine explorer. Liked ur evolving journey to exploring new tastes and getting out if the comfort zone. Very helpful post.
    Isa A. Blogger

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