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Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

Last post 03-13-2009 12:40 PM by missapril_piano. 35 replies.
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  • 12-25-2008 7:13 AM

    Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    Does anyone have any tips for someone who does not know the first thing about cooking?   I am really at a loss...  i don't know how to cook anything unless it comes from a box with instructions on it!  Sometimes cookbooks take certain liberties like one should already know how to do steps A & B and just goes on to C.


    I don't know how to even cook rice unless it is instant!  (and i would love to start buying it in bulk to save money!)


    Any good books/websites/tips for the extreme beginner?  I really need to eat more fresh foods and stop this processed nonsense.


    ~Credit Union Lending Specialist Extraordinaire!~
  • 12-25-2008 8:30 AM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    Dear Nicole, I suggest that you borrow from teh Library the following 3 cookbooks.  Whichever you like best, I urge you to make the expenditure of buying it, you need to have something you can refer to constantly.

    Mark Bittman, HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING (I reccomend highly.)

    Betty Crocker -- a new edition

    Better Homes & Gardens/the "red plaid" book -- a new edition (I have the 14th, which is fairly new)

    Best of luck!  Yours in Him, Deb

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Government & Charity Assistance

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  • 12-25-2008 11:07 AM In reply to

    • Edey
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 09-10-2007
    • Los Angeles County, CA
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    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    I second DeborahMichelles recommendations for the Betty Crocker books and Better Homes and Gardens.  Look for ones that are for beginning cooks, plus one large general book. There are also ones for 30-minute meals that are easy and fast and will give you a sense of accomplishment.

      Other good ones for later on when you have more experience are books by Taste of Home. They have good down home type recipes that don't use a bunch of gourmet or new age ingredients, just standard grocery store/pantry type ingredients. Edey

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  • 12-25-2008 11:53 AM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

     Write down your favorite boxed meals then look for recipes to learn to make them yourself.

    You teach people how to treat you -- Dr Phil
  • 12-25-2008 1:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    In addition to the cookbooks recommended above, look in your library for kids' cookbooks, cookbooks for 30 minute meals, and 5 or 6-ingredient recipes.  You can also find good recipes at allrecipes.com.
  • 12-25-2008 3:41 PM In reply to

    • Kim_150
    • Top 150 Contributor
    • Joined on 10-05-2008
    • Green Bay, WI
    • Posts 525

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    Do you have a George Foreman grill? If not, it might be a good investment. Mine was a life saver when I was first learning to cook for myself- no complicated cooking techniques, you just season whatever you're cooking and put it on the grill. I've never had any flops or anything go wrong with a George Foreman, except maybe undercooking. Then you can "graduate" to sauteeing and broiling, etc once you've gotten used to the simple technique.

    Maybe list a few of your favorite boxed meals, and brainstorm ways to make it yourself. If you really like a chicken with cheesy rice meal, you could buy chicken, rice, and cheese sauce in a jar, cook each thing separately, and put it together yourself. That's still kind of processed, but it's a starting point to making it even more homemade by making your own cheese sauce, or adding other things to it. If you like a pasta with parmesan-herb sauce mix, look at the ingredients label and write down what seasonings are in it. Play around with those until you find a cobination you like, and it's almost the same thing, homemade. 

    Most importantly, be patient with yourself! When something turns out badly, or not the way you want it, go back over your recipe and the steps you took, and think about how you might do it differently next time. Even cooking experts have things that turn out inedible sometimes, so be patient and don't beat yourself up over experiments gone wrong. 

  • 12-25-2008 4:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    I basically couldn't cook when I moved out from my mom's house, so I completely understand where you're coming from.  I was able to scramble eggs, make a basic spaghetti dinner, and could boil water for ramen or mac & cheese.  I, too, would recommend the Betty Crocker cookbook.  It comes with step by step instructions and pictures!  Plus, of course, a lot of very solid recipes.  I would also recommend anything by Leanne Ely, who not only puts together fabulous menus and teaches you menu planning, but has a great beginner cookbook.  You can read about it here: http://www.amazon.com/Saving-Dinner-Basics-Cook-Even/dp/0345485432.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • 12-25-2008 7:38 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    Dear Nicole, Leanne Ely -- if I'm not very much mistaken -- has a key part in THE FLY LADY's productions & website.  So, she comes with high recommendation!  Yours in Him, Deb

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in Government & Charity Assistance

    Proud guardian of Heart, a black female Miniature Poodle, a Psychiatric Service Dog

    Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His Name. (Psalm 100)

    Yours in thrift, Deborah

  • 12-25-2008 8:16 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    Yes, Deb, this is true!  I do like the FlyLady system, but I love Leanne Ely even more!  I've learned so much from her books.  80% of my families favorite recipes come directly from or are adapted from her books.  The best thing I've learned from her is to always follow the recipe the first time and modify it after that to suit my personal needs.

    Officially Recognized Stretchpert in the General forum
  • 12-25-2008 8:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Tips for newbie in the kitchen?

    Nicole -

    I agree with the others' recomendations about the Betty Crocker red plaid cook books (look like binders). I have two of them and love them. It would definitely be a good place to start as far as recipes and instructions go...

    but the BEST advice that I think anyone can give you - don't be scared to cook! Don't make it bigger than it is. A lot of people say "I can't cook" but I think that they are mostly scared to give it a try. I didn't have anyone to teach me to cook... mom was a great cook but never had the patience or desire to teach us anything. When I moved in with my dad (who was well-intentioned but clueless as far as raising a kid) he just ASSUMED that I could fend for myself! Well, NOT! I started out by learning to do baked potatoes in the microwave (wash clean, poke a few holes in it, wrap in a paper towel and zap for about 6 minutes per side for a good sized baking potato).... and I also learned to "cook" macaroni and cheese and prego with noodles. It wasn't much, but I was proud of those early accomplishments. I expanded from there simply by trial and error. My boyfriend of 6 years ate some not-so-great meals early on, but he was a great sport. He was very helpful in that he would give me constructive criticism when I cooked a meal and since it was done with the right attitude, i was greatful and able to learn from his feedback. Anyways, to wrap up that little story... learning to cook on my own wasn't heard. It was just a matter of jumping in and not being scared to try things. If something turned out bad, oh well! Then you just try again!

    I also agree that a George Foreman would be a great kitchen gadget for you to use to start cooking. Experiment with someof the different marinades that you find in the grocery store... marinade the meat over night and then when you are ready to eat just do them on the GF. Once you get comfortable with the machine itself, try searching online for your own marinades.

    Also.... try some of those foil oven bags (or make your own out of regular foil). They come with a little recipe book inside. Pretty much anything I've done in in a foil packet comes out great because it steams itself as it cooks which makes the meat super tender. Another great benefit of this cooking method is that you can throw all the stuff in one foil packet and so it's an all-in-one-meal that's super easy to clean up (just toss!). My favorite meal to do like this is: a pack of chicken breasts (clean and take off the fat), potatoes (peel and cut red potatoes in chunks), one  yellow onion (cut in small chunks), button mushrooms, rosemary, butter, a couple lemon wedges, and then season with salt and pepper. It comes out great and it's super easy. Another great thing to do in foil packs are those pork loins (though kind of expensive). They have some (Bryan's brand I think) that are already pre-seasoned. I get the BBQ one. I put that pork loin in the foil packet and surround it with potato chunks, ears of corn on the cob (look in the freezer section), a yellow onion (chunked), button muchrooms and a bell pepper (small chunks). I then add some more cajun seasoning (we like things spicey), some pats of butter on and around the potatoes and sprinkly with a little parsley for color. Again, the meal comes out great! As far as cooking times and temp, the little recipe book that comes with the foil packets gives you a chart to follow. So, you can buy a box of the bags (with the booklet), keep the booklet for future use and then just use regular foil in the future to make your packets for cheaper.

    And, this may sound silly, but try getting (or looking at the library for) some kid/teen cookbooks. They would be a great place to start to learn some basics! I say this because I just bought two (one is Betty Crocker and I can't remember whatthe other one is) for my niece (she's 13). She loves to cook (always wants to "help") so I thought it would be great for her. She was thrilled! I was impressed with the descriptions, pictures, recipes, etc. in the books. They explain EVERYTHING to a kid or beginner so I think it would be a great thing for you to try.

    Have a blessed day,


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