Thursday, 29 November 2012

Responsible Single: Learn to Cook

I'm tapping into another essential skill for single women, especially those aspiring to marry and have a family.  Learn to cook.  Learn to cook food that doesn't come out of a package.  And learn to do it without your mom having to tell you what to make or how.

Again, I've been privileged to learn to cook and bake under the guidance of a mom and older sister.  I started cooking because I wanted to, not because I had to.  And you know what?  If you don't take the first steps to learn, your mother might not force it on you, and you may end up striking out on your own with next to no abilities in the kitchen.

I can't lay out for you my 10 Steps to Becoming a Great Cook.  I don't have them.  I learned how to cook by doing and I'm still learning.  I learned by helping in the kitchen, doing the menial jobs I did not enjoy and still don't. (Does anyone else get annoyed with shredding cheese?)  Slowly I learned how to make meals on my own.  I learned to bake cookies, muffins, and cakes on my own.  And after some coaching I learned how to make bread by hand on my own.  I also learned over time that sometimes Mom knows better than the recipe, and sometimes common sense rules over the recipe.

Again, take advantage of the people in your home who can teach you and be patient to allow yourself to be taught.  If you have never cooked in your life, and you pull out a new recipe and head to the kitchen alone hoping to impress the family, halfway through you will likely be in tears, want to abandon the whole meal, and never want to cook again.  I remember instances where I have tried to impress and burned the blueberry muffins or ended up with a very dense loaf of bread.   Allow yourself be to taught.  Also, learn how to use the equipment right and safely.  Something like a pressure cooker can be a great tool, but if you don't know how to use it, you could really hurt yourself.

Something else I want to touch on is meal planning.  Cooking is half the job.  Serious.  No, actually a fraction.  Washing the dishes takes up half on its own.  Whatever.  The hardest part of cooking is often knowing what to cook.  To the amateur, this is difficult to comprehend.  It's something I used to not be able to understand.  Now I do.  Cooking isn't that hard, but planning meals that go according to everyone's tastes, preferences that day, ingredients you have on hand, and taking a budget into consideration is hard.  Especially when you have to do it an hour before supper and the pressure is on.

When I meal plan (which, to be honest, I haven't done much lately), I don't plan every detail of all three meals each day.  Rather, I will sit down and brainstorm a few meals to cook for dinner and make a grocery list accordingly.  I keep it flexible.  We keep breakfast simple, and lunches are usually comprised of leftovers or other things we can make quickly.  Not only does meal planning take the pressure off for each day, but it allows you to shop wisely and not go to the store every day for that one ingredient you don't have. You can incorporate variety into your menu (using different meats, flavours, side dishes, vegetables, etc.), and keep things financially balanced.  You may like pasta, but if you're making it every day of the week, or all your meals have a lot of expensive ingredients, you'll start running into problems. 

Having just written this, I feel like I'm trying to write advice for married women.  Please don't take it that way.  I have simply shared things I have learned, what I would encourage and why.  Cooking and meal planning is a skill that will greatly benefit you at home with your parents, or as a wife and mom.  You can help take a lot of work off your mom's shoulders and bless your family with great food.  I highly recommend that all young women learn to do it well.

Next Post: Get a Job!

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