The Simple Cooking Skill Holding Back Most Beginners

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Many people would LOVE to learn how to cook from scratch more often, but no matter what they try, it doesn’t stick! They go right back to ordering takeout or hitting the drive thru. Why? Well, there’s one specific skill they haven’t strengthened. It’s called freestyle cooking.

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freestyle cooking

I see you trying so hard to cook from scratch.

You keep trying new meal plans hoping they’ll finally work for you.

Your binder or folder of your favorite recipes is ready to go…

You’re trying to prep what you can in advance.

Sometimes, you even make 2 of the same recipe and freeze one for later!

You are doing all the right things so why is this still so tricky?

Well first, meal planning is hard. I explained that here when I shared my favorite tips to simplify meal planning.

If you’re already trying to do all the right things and struggling, check to see if this tip applies to you. I’ve seen many people feel stuck in the mud with their meal planning when really, THIS is the problem.

cooking from scratch every day

It’s also the reason why I am a terrible food blogger (but a great home cook).

The one skill more people need to develop is this: freestyle cooking.

What is freestyle cooking?

Freestyle cooking is being able to apply basic cooking techniques to adapt recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand.

It’s that thing where you just whip up a dish and people say, “You just came up with that?!” Yes, I sure did!

Freestyle cooking is the one skill I recommend all home cooks focus on. For many, it’s fun and exciting. For other folks, it’s stressful and frustrating.

They hate cooking without a recipe and just want the step-by-step, thank you very much!

What’s going on there?

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Why are some people “bad” at freestyle cooking?

Every person can be great at freestyle cooking! Just like literally any other skill, it just takes practice.

But I think what’s really going on here is that people don’t trust themselves.

They don’t believe that they can whip up a delicious recipe from scratch.

They’re reluctant to mess things up and they’re sure that’s exactly what will happen.


Where does this reluctancy come from?

“I mess everything up.”

“Oh, I’m useless in the kitchen.”

“I burn everything…”

freestyle cooking

All of that sounds like self-doubt to me. I hear someone who probably got hurtful feedback on their cooking from someone a little too blunt. Maybe they feel frustrated with the size of the learning curve for their favorite recipes and feel intimidated.

Maybe they’re shut off from the creative parts of themselves. This happens so much, especially as we get older!

We are operating from this fear-based negative lens that tells us we can’t before we even try.

Give yourself a little credit

You are more capable and creative than you think!

Let cooking be easy! Let it be simple.

You don’t have to look through 50 recipes before you find one you feel comfortable making.

You absolutely can tweak and adapt recipes to suit what you already have instead of hitting the store for X, Y, and Z.

Ready to get started? Try one of my 14 tips to cook from scratch without recipes.

freestyle cooking

Freestyle cooking builds confidence

You don’t have to throw away your cookbooks or cancel your meal plan service.

I’m simply asking for you to imagine yourself successfully preparing simple dishes.

What if you focused on what you could do instead of your doubts?

Let’s tackle some common fears

What if my food isn’t as good as I’d like?

No one wants to eat mediocre or bad food every day. You’re afraid you’ll be stuck eating bland soups and stews until the day you die, right?

Um, no! Have a little more faith in yourself, friend.

You can and will cook tasty meals from scratch.

Not sure where to start? Try one of my 14 tips for cooking without recipes. You can totally start with a recipe you love. Adapt it to make it your own!

What if I ruin a dish?

This held me back a long time! Especially since food costs so much and I hate to be wasteful, the last thing I want to do is ruin something and have to throw it away.

That one ruined dish will teach you SO MUCH more than fastidiously following recipe after recipe.

No one likes to ruin a recipe or waste food. Even if it’s “ruined,” most dishes are still edible. Honestly… a little ranch dressing or shredded cheddar makes pretty much anything tasty.

Unless your recipe is totally burned or unsafe to eat, try to eat it anyway.

What if I fail?

You will.

It is absolutely inevitable that you will fail. Either today or ten years from now, we all make mistakes. Even pros make mistakes.

I always imagine that in every kitchen, even with the fanciest ingredients, someone has ruined every single dish. People make mistakes, especially when they’re learning. Mistakes are normal. Mistakes mean you are trying.

Not failing is a bigger problem because that says you are too afraid to even try.

You can do this!

Ready to start cooking from scratch every day?

I have some tools to help you! I wrote an ebook called A Well-Stocked Pantry and I break down my entire real food philosophy: where to shop, how to store food, how to balance quality & cost, and more.

pantry staples list pdf

It also includes my free pantry staples list printable AND weekly meal planning template. These tools will help you organize your pantry and draft up a week of healthy recipes in moments!

Get all of this for free AND access to my free resource library right now when you subscribe for email updates.

freestyle cooking for beginners
What do you think of freestyle cooking?

Do you cook like this? Have any tips to help beginners cook from scratch? Share them in the comments!

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