Like Skill: Cooking. Learn the basics, build confidence, experiment

Life Skill: Learn to Cook

When I first moved to Canada as a teenager, I was shocked to discover how many people in North America don’t know how to cook. I grew up being able to put a basic dinner on the table at 8 years old and it was normal. You don’t need to be a master chef but you should know the basics of feeding yourself without paying someone to do it for you. Cooking is a basic life skill I find indispensable in everything from budgeting to staying healthy to entertaining and raising a family. And yet, we don’t learn it in school. So, what do you do if you don’t come from a family of capable home cooks? As with many things these days, the answer is simple: Internet.

Cooking implements: apron, rolling pin, cooking pot, spatula, cutting board

One of my favourite champions of good food is Jamie Oliver. He has been very active in campaigning for the need to teach kids (and adults!) about where food comes from and what to do with it. He is an excellent chef but he’s also focused on keeping it fresh, local and simple. And he’s gone so far as to create an online portal shock full of instructional resources that will help you master cooking basics from making toast to cooking meat to baking and beyond. The steps are easy to follow and packed with pictures, and the food is delicious. This is one great place to build confidence in the kitchen.

Another great resource is the Better Homes & Gardens Cooking Basics page. Some of these recipes are a little more advanced (doughnuts, anyone?) but there are also of ton of basic skills covered like boiling potatoes, cleaning mushrooms, and cooking rice. It’s another great resource for anyone starting out.

Once you are more comfortable with the basics, you can move on to sites like AllRecipes and Epicurious, which aggregate recipes submitted by home cooks, along with detailed instructions and comments from other users who have attempted them. And, of course, there is always YouTube, which comes up with about 240,000 results if you search for “basic cooking”.

The one thing you don’t want to do is try something too advanced before you’re ready. It will be more work that you would anticipate, likely not turn out well, and put you off cooking for a long time. Start small, get comfortable, build your confidence, and challenge yourself from there. For extra fun, round up your friends, who can likely use some help in the kitchen as well. You’ll have a great time hanging out and learn something new in the process.

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