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Getting Started 
Feb. 27, 2013 2:49 pm 
Updated: Mar. 3, 2013 8:24 am

I’m a domestically challenged stay-at-home mom with two handsome boys. I have spent most of my life not liking food. Therefore, while most girls were in the kitchen with Mom, I was on the ball field. I now have a family of my own, and kitchen common sense still eludes me.

My husband does most of the cooking, which often includes going out to eat. With two kids, the budget is being stretched ever tighter. So, I have two choices. I can continue to allow my family to eat fast food on a regular basis, or I can start cooking.

This will be a difficult road. I will have to learn to make a menu that makes sense and shop at the grocery store for everything I need without all the things I don’t.

The process will surely entail many things ruined and hopefully a few successes. But ultimately, my family will have something homemade at least four days a week and increased quality time. It might even prove to be a good stress reliever.

My first attempt at creating a menu included hours of searching through to find recipes that I thought that even my picky eaters (this includes me) would like to try. I attempted to find recipes that used some of the same ingredients that would leave leftovers for lunch the next day.

After choosing six new recipes, I attempted to organize my shopping list. I’m sure that this sounds simple to most, but it was more complicated than I had originally thought.

The store was also foreign territory. I bypassed the pre-made, processed foods and made my way to the produce section. The bill wasn’t as bad as I had expected. There were quite a few staples that were missing from my soon to be used kitchen. So, future trips might be even better.

My fridge and pantry are now stocked, and I’m ready for my first attempt at real cooking.

Feb. 27, 2013 3:51 pm
Your trepidation is understandable, especially when involving your family. But keep some perspective as humans have been cooking since caveman days, and it’s far easier than you now imagine. Start out like baseball by just getting to first base, and not worrying about hitting homers . . . initially aim for simpler recipes oriented around what your family is now eating as take out . . . as you build some confidence, move your comfort zone by taking on a bit more challenging stuff. You’ll be surprised at how fast this starts coming to you. To me, meal planning for varied appetites and trying to keep it reasonably healthy is the most challenging aspect of the entire process . . . just following a recipe’s directions is the easiest part. If you need help in finding recipes or have a food related question, feel free to use The Buzz, and others will help you along. Welcome aboard.
Feb. 27, 2013 4:16 pm
In addition to Conky Joe, I suggest involving your kids as much as possible. Take notice of what each eats and when dinner is done, ask what they thought of the meal. Be sure you make it clear that you want to become a better cook and their answer will not upset you. Take one with you when you shop for food and accept their input regarding what is healthy and what tastes good. (Food shopping is great for that.) When you cannot provide input for their question or statement, you can both look for an answer and you could find it right there in the store. If you use iPads, find the answer there. You are not expected to be the sole source of recipes and food answers so get everybody involved.
Feb. 27, 2013 4:46 pm
One of the biggest mistakes I made was shooing my kids out of the kitchen when they were little. But even that mistake is working out ok. My youngest daughter is now helping in the kitchen, she has developed a real interest in cooking. My eldest, not as much. But she has learned to make a few things. I love your attitude regarding "ruined" meals. They aren't ruined so much as being consumabilty challenged. As Mike suggested, getting the kids opinions is a great way to involve them for their ideas. Kids can be brutally honest. Don't take offense if one of them asks you, "What is that yuchy stuff?" That was my youngest daughter's favorite meal time question! Now that she is older (16) she is a bit more tactful. Good luck with it. You're in a community of people that will be very willing to answer question and give encouragement!
Feb. 27, 2013 7:25 pm
Hehouston, I am so excited for you! What a wonderful new adventure! Can I tell you that I am a 45 yo single female who (honest to God) used an oven maybe a dozen times in her life until this year. Now I almost refuse to eat anything but home cooked meals. Long story for another day. But suffice to say once I found the interest, my belief that I was "domestically challenged" started to fade away. There are still lousy moments, but the high points of making something yourself and seeing the smile on your family's faces makes every moment of it worth while. I just started involving myself with the blogs here myself but have already come to see there are a lot of kind people here who are experts and learners alike. You have found a warm and welcoming place to start. I wish you well on the start of this journey and hope you find it as emotionally satisfying (and money saving!) as I have. Good luck!!!!!
Feb. 27, 2013 10:52 pm
Welcome! I was you 40 years ago but I had nothing but cookbooks as a reference. There is a wealth of information right here on Allrecipes, with videos and recipes and the Buzz where you can hop on and ask realtime questions and get replies from more experienced cooks. We are all learning no matter how long we've been at it. Have fun with it, you'll do great.
Feb. 28, 2013 4:48 am
Lots of good advice from the folks above.Welcome,and just remember Have Fun while your finding your way around the kitchen.No one was born knowing how to cook,we all had to learn,so enjoy.
Feb. 28, 2013 5:42 am
Having fun is key, I still don't plan a menu I wing it. We use to eat out 3 or 4 times a week until we realized what I cooked was often times much better then what we were being served in the restaurants. I started cooking more we were gooing out less only problem I am NO good at shopping or planning meals. Bill shops and thanks to Allrecipe and its unending recipes I now some what plan. That is to say I tell Bill what I want to make and what ingredients are in it and when he does the shopping he makes sure the ingredients are there. That is planning right? For easy meals with left overs you should get to know your crock pot.
Feb. 28, 2013 6:50 pm
Thank you so much for the encouragement. I have completed three days of cooking now and things are going okay. I keep forgetting things, but the end result is pretty good. My husband thinks it's a gift from God. So, can't be all bad. @Conky Joe PRO Thanks for adding the baseball reference. It's nice to go with something you know. @Mike Harvey, DePITA Involving the kids is a great idea. The one that is old enough to involve usually watches his baby brother while I'm in the kitchen, but I might try to add him more in the process. @Doc Simonson I love the consumability challenged. @AZ93 I have had to combat my oldest sons vomit sounds with my husbands "wow this is the best thing I've ever had." @BigShotsMom I had no idea about the Buzz. I'll have to check it out. @manella So true!!! @Joey Joan, I don't have a crock pot. It might be time to invest in one.
Feb. 28, 2013 8:58 pm
3 days in, great start! If it helps you, I always put all my ingredients and any necessary utensils on the counter before I start. Keeps you from forgetting things. I learned this the hard way. I put them away, or in another spot, as I finish with them. I just learned the chef's term for setting yourself up to prepare a meal in the kitchen is "mis en place". Got this from the food network yesterday. It's French for "quit forgetting s#!+"!!!!!
Mar. 1, 2013 3:27 pm
Good for you on starting to getthings going in the kitchen. As already stated-start with simpler things,get a crockpot, & use shortcuts if the timing is challenging.Find some stand-bys that the whole family likes & keep a stocked pantry. Just changing the spices can really change the taste of things. My hubby used to like bland food, now he brags about how well I use spices & how flavorful my dishes are. Yes come to the buzz to ask your questions-we have so many great cooks there & they will post recipes and make suggestions if you ask.
Mar. 3, 2013 8:24 am
@AZ93 I love the "mis en place" idea. I have been putting the ingredients out on the counter, but not moving them to another spot. So, this is a good idea that I will have to try. @goodeats I was thinking of getting a slow cooker, but is it the same amount of work in the morning instead of the evening? My hubby has really been enjoying the food. Yay!
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About Me
I'm a domestically challenged stay-at-home mom with two small boys and a wonderful husband. I have attempted to cook periodically, but was never very good at it. I am now into it with determination to make it work.
My favorite things to cook
Veggies, Fish, and Pasta
My favorite family cooking traditions
Chicken Stroganoff
My cooking triumphs
It's still too early to have many triumphs, but I have been doing okay with was I've tried.
My cooking tragedies
Pasta with broccoli, tomato, and white wine sauce; roasted carrots
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