So you want to learn how to cook? But you have no idea where to start. Or maybe you've tried … several times, and have come up empty handed. Or with your hands full of terrible meals. You've been there: burned-on dishes, terrible flavor, something that is pretty much inedible. Now is the time to turn those dishes around for the better. Don't worry gals, we've got you covered. Cooking may not be everyone's calling, but that doesn't mean you can't fake your way through it. Take a few of these fool-proof methods to heart and you can be on your way to "cooking" like a pro in no time. Not only can you use it to impress pretty much everyone in your life, it's a way to ensure you won't be eating crappy meals from here on out. So grab that cookbook and check out these incredible cheats to become a better cook today.
13 Make Your Crockpot Your New Best Friend
Have you used one of these things? They're seriously so easy, and make the most delicious meals. Best of all, your food can be ready the second you walk in the door. Crockpot recipes pretty much require you to dump four or five ingredients into a bowl, then to turn on your slow cooker and let time do the work for you. When you get home from work (or errands, or whatever), your entire house will be smelling delicious – without the wait time. If you're not already a crockpot user, go out and buy one ASAP.
12 Master The Casserole
Another foolproof option: the casserole. So long as you're mixing in ingredients that will taste good together, there's pretty much no way to mess it up. Pick ingredients you know you like, and get to work. You can also ask family and friends (who you know are good cooks) for their best advice. Or their best recipes. Then all that's left to do is open, mix, and bake. Casseroles are great leftovers, and can pretty much be eaten any time of day – there are breakfast versions, desserts, and entire meals that can all be made in a single dish.
11 Take A Cooking Class
Seriously! If you know nothing and are ready to make your venture as a cook, even one who's fumbling the entire time, consider a class. Most towns offer beginner events for the entire community. Colleges are another gold mine for learning the cooking basics. Or, if you're really self-conscious, ask a loved one to give you some one-on-one training until you get the basics down pat. This can be anywhere from baking, to cooking, to grilling, or a little of it all! Everyone has to start somewhere, so why not start at the beginning when defining your cooking skills?
10 Spice Up A Salad
Salads are a great way to add a healthy meal, even when you don't want to cook (or don't know how). All you have to do is chop … a lot. Add in all types of lettuce or veggies, then offer basic toppings, like cheese, crackers or croutons, beans, or meat. You can use lunch meat or pre-cooked options here to simplify the process even further. This is also great for a crowd, as each person can personalize their own plate or bowl so they can be sure and eat exactly what they like and skip what they don't.
9 Go "Semi-Homemade"
This method is so popular that the Food Network gave it its own show. Essentially, it simplifies cooking by creating steps that are partially from scratch, and partially pre-made. For instance, using a cake mix to make a cobbler, or adding pre-packaged marinades to season your meat. There are plenty of free ideas online, and it's a type of cooking that will allow for incredibly tasty dishes, but without all the work. Or all the stress! Bonus, it will help you cut down on grocery bills by doing some of the cooking yourself.
8 Only Add Foods You Love
If you're considering trying a new recipe, make sure it's one you will like. Nothing will shatter your confidence quicker than branching out, and then not loving how the dish turned out. However, it might taste just fine, but include some ingredients you aren't in love with. That's ok. Rather than risking not liking a meal, stick to your favorites and gain confidence while cooking what you know you will like. This will leave you with meals you actually want to eat, and show you just how easy it can be to whip up a quick dish that's worth savoring.
7 Look Online
With today's technologies, there is a seemingly unlimited amount of resources available for cooking. Whether you get ideas from Pinterest, look up tutorials on YouTube, or simply Google different methods, there is plenty of free material that can help you become a better cook. (Including this website!) Don't be afraid to take the time to do a little extra research toward a process that you will like, and not be intimidated by. Besides, the more you cook, the easier it will get – wanting you to branch out even further into this practice … maybe even getting more advanced as you go.
6 Cook With Friends
Not only is this more fun, it's less work. Invite over a friend or two and take turns hosting and purchasing the groceries. This can also cut down the amount of recipes you have to make every single week, but without sacrificing on healthy food. Or, if you truly hate cooking, offer to do the clean up for a friend who won't mind strictly cooking. With a little give and take, and focusing on doing what you (and everyone else) likes best, you can find a set up that will best serve all who are involved.
5 Buy What's On Sale
This is not a new concept. However, it is one that can help save you on some serious cooking time. In general, dishes that are pre-made or ready to eat cost far more than the option of buying ingredients that are used to cook from scratch. But that's not always the case. When pre-made items go on sale, utilize your savings by stocking up (on whatever you can eat by the expiration date), and saving yourself the burden of cooking at the same time. It's a win-win solution all around. Besides, you know it'll be good!
4 Cook All At Once
Along those same lines comes cooking in big batches. If you dislike cooking, it might be best to get it all done at once. You can cook a big meal, or portion it out into smaller containers. That way you can freeze leftovers or eat later on, so you won't get tired of a single dish. The perk to this method is that you are able to prep a lot of food in a little amount of time. A few sessions and you'll have several different types of meals to last, switching up whenever you crave something new.
3 Host A Freezer Meal Party
Somewhat of a new craze, freezer meals are growing in popularity. They consist of a few different friends each cooking a single meal (one for each person invited), and then trading dishes. That way at the end of the party, everyone has one of each dish, but only had to prep a single recipe. This is similar to the above, but allows you to get different flavors all with a single session of cooking. Better yet, it's a chance to reminisce with friends and have a fun cooking day all at the same time.
2 Order Take Out Already!
Yes seriously. Sometimes it's ok to order out your meal. Or to go out and get something to eat. It's not the most affordable option when done every day, nor is it the most nutritious (depending on where you go). But every once an a while, go nuts. It's ok to give yourself a break from cooking. It's often tasty to see what others can whip up, and it's great inspiration to learn a new cooking skill. When you've had enough with cooking, just give up already, take a break, and go out. You've earned it.
Yeah guys, we're going there. It's time to embrace the leftover meal. You've gone to the effort of cooking, after all, so you might as well enjoy it for more than one day. If you're one who's finicky about eating something twice, stick to recipes that keep well (chili, casseroles, pasta). Or, choose options that can easily be refreshed into something new -- like sandwich toppings, and more. These recipes are easy to switch up, and will allow you a different, but still healthy meal, with minimal effort on your part.