While you don’t need to cook all your own food, being able to cook is a pretty useful life skill. Beyond that, having the ability to make food for yourself that is healthy and that you enjoy eating is key to diet autonomy. If you are bound to eating out or eating pre-packaged foods, this can make it challenging to know what is in your food, it can get expensive, and it can make it harder to meet your nutrition goals.
But what if you have no idea how to do anything in the kitchen? A good place to start is to add a few simple meal components to your repertoire. If you start small with a couple of basic skills or food items, and get comfortable with that, you can slowly build (like adding weight to a barbell!) If possible, try to learn how to prepare a meat/protein you like, a vegetable you like, a complex carb you like, and mix and match.
For instance, if I know how to cook a chicken breast, boil an egg, sautée kale, roast carrots, cook rice, and bake a potato, I now have the skills and knowledge to make over 20 different meal configurations!
Here are some links to basic cooking how-tos:
- How to boil an egg: http://dish.allrecipes.com/how-to-boil-an-egg/
- How to cook a chicken breast: https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-cook-boneless-skinless-chi…
- How to sautée kale (this also works for any other leafy green, like chard, spinach, collard greens): http://www.foodnetwork.com/…/bo…/sauteed-kale-recipe-1960155
- How to bake a potato: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-bake-a-potato-three-easy-me…
- How to roast root vegetables: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/roastrootvegetables_8820
- How to cook brown rice: http://www.food.com/…/plain-but-perfect-every-time-brown-ri…
These are just some examples of things that you could teach yourself to make. As always, be honest with yourself about what you like and what you will actually eat. For example, if you don’t like eggs, by all means, don’t waste your time learning to boil an egg. Think of something you like to eat, and look it up! The internet is a wonderful thing. If you are new to reading recipes, avoid recipes that are needlessly complicated, have long ingredient lists or specialty ingredients, or say that there is a DEFINITIVE way to cook something properly. At the end of the day, as long as you cook meat to temperature and wash your hands, you’ll be fine.
Also, if you already know how to cook pretty well, but just struggle with putting meals together, or want some inspiration about ways to punch-up your meals, here is a link to a great infographic from Precision Nutrition: http://assets.precisionnutrition.com/…/precision-nutrition-…(it's a long image file so you have to zoom in)
And here is a link to our recipe page, which includes some recipes for beginners!