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How to Start Cooking from Scratch with 7 Easy Tips

Here are seven tips to help you learn how to start cooking from scratch! Getting started in the kitchen doesn’t have to be a scary concept because it’s really not that hard! If you’d like to learn how to cook at home, keep reading!

family cooking from scratch

How to Start Cooking from Scratch

1. Make a plan

It’s really important to have a plan if you want to cook from scratch because convenience foods and drive-throughs are just so darn easy. There are so many ways to meal plan – you can plan for a week, two weeks, or a month at a time. I go back and forth in my planning, but I have many monthly and weekly meal plans on the blog you can look through for ideas.

If you have a plan, you’ll get meat out of the freezer when you need to and have a goal. That makes it much more likely to actually cook!

Make sure to subscribe and download my menu planning printable to help as well! It’s free!

2. Start easy

If you haven’t cooked from scratch a lot, I really recommend that you start easy. There’s no need to create gourmet meals at first (or ever, for that matter). There aren’t any rules that say you need to make every single meal from scratch right off the bat either. Make a goal and achieve it.

Maybe you want to make 4 weekly dinners from scratch one week. Or maybe you want to start with breakfasts and make them from scratch. You’re the boss! Figure out what you want, write down a goal, tell your family, and do it! I know you can!

3. Use tried and true recipes that your family will like

Write down a master list of meals that your family likes and hang it on your fridge. Look for meals that can be made quickly and with few ingredients. Be prepared for an adjustment period. Real food tastes different than the convenience counterpart.

If your family is used to and likes pre-packaged food, it might take some time to retrain the taste buds to prefer the real stuff. I’m confident, though, that if you use tried and true recipes, you will be really happy once you make the switch.

kitchen tools

4. Prep ahead & cook extra 

I’m most successful at serving a from-scratch meal if I have prepped the meal earlier in the day. If you can find 10 minutes in the morning or at lunch to make sure you have meat out to thaw and veggies chopped and ready to go, you will be more successful too. Having a good plan and ingredients at the ready on busy evenings makes all the difference in the world.

If you work outside the home and mornings are too hectic for you to worry about dinner meal prep, perhaps you can set aside an hour on a weekend to cook meat to use and chop of veggies to store in the fridge. I’ve also found that some of our favorite recipes freeze really well. Whenever I make lasagna, meatloaf, beef stroganoff, and chicken oreganato, I double the recipe (or quadruple) and freeze additional meals. Having ready to go meals in the freezer often saves me when I just have zero time.

5. Here’s a good recipe line up to get you started!

If you’re still not sure where to start, here are two paths you can take: one with chicken and one with beef.

  • I recommend starting with a whole chicken that you can shred and use for many meals. You might enjoy my recipe for homemade rotisserie chicken in an instant pot!
  • After making the chicken, save the carcass and make a homemade stock.
  • Use the stock for making a delicious soup, like my creamy chicken stew.
  • You can also start with homemade spaghetti sauce! This recipe makes enough to put in the extra freezer for different nights. The leftovers are perfect for repurposing into lasagna or baked spaghetti.
  • My spinach mozzarella meatloaf recipe is the base for the meatballs in the spaghetti sauce. On a day when you have time to put together the meatloaf, make a triple recipe so you can freezer meatloaf and meatballs too!

6. Invest in good kitchen tools and cookbooks

From-scratch cooking is so much easier with the right tools – a good knife, a slow cooker, and tried and true recipes from quality sources are your best friends!

Kitchen tools don’t have to cost a fortune either. Some of my favorite helpers cost under $15. I watch friends who are better cooks than me to make my list. It might be boring, but I ask for practical kitchen items for Christmas almost every single year. And I’m THRILLED when I get them, because seriously, they make my life so much easier.

However, more is not necessarily better! Read about my must-haves in the minimalist kitchen in this post.

looking at a recipe in a cookbook

7. Five Cookbooks that Have Helped Me A Lot

Find good resources to help you cook from scratch! A few trusted blogs and books are worth their weight in gold. Many bloggers (like me!) offer up recipes for free to help you! I also have a few tried and true cookbooks that I turn to over and over. Here are my top five most helpful cookbooks I highly recommend!

Prep Ahead Meals from Scratch by Alea Milham. The book is full of tips and yummy recipes that are easy to make and don’t take a long time.

How to Raise Chickens for Meat by Michelle Marine. This book is much more than raising your own chickens for meat. It also includes 30 recipes to help you learn how to cook a whole chicken and turn it into many delicious recipes!

The Complete Electric Pressure Cookbook by Kristen Greazel. I love this book because of the easy recipes that can be prepared in your instant pot or electric pressure cooker!

Don’t Panic More Dinner’s in the Freezer by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell, & Bonnie Garcia. This book is a great help when you want to maximize your efforts with batch cooking – cook once and put multiple meals in the freezer!

Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I’ve turned to my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook so many times that the pages are falling out and the back cover is missing. I love this book because it is an easy resource for just about any type of recipe you can think up!

I hope these tips for how to cook from scratch are helpful. Do you have a best tip for helping you cook from scratch that I didn't mention? Or a question about cooking from scratch that I can answer? Please reach out. I would love to help!

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Larae

Wednesday 8th of February 2017

Great post! Also keep track of your savings. Cooking from scratch can seem almost as expensive as pulling through the drive thru right away because you will need to invest in some tools and cookbooks (as Michelle mentioned). You will also need spices and staples. While those spices and staples might set you back $5 up front, you will be able to make several meals from them. Pretty soon you will see that from scratch is usually less than half dinner out or to-go.

A tip as you progress and get used to making a recipe get the kids involved. This tip has worked out really well for me over the years. Not only did I enjoy the company in the kitchen but I now have two teenage boys that love to cook and they each make a full meal once a week.

Courtney Pies

Wednesday 30th of March 2016

I love that Alea gives simple tips to help prep your pantry and fridge. I definitely need tips!

Sarah Floyd

Wednesday 30th of March 2016

I love to cook from scratch but have been stuck lately, not particularly inspired to try new recipes. The recipes in this cookbook seem fairly simple and easy to prepare in advance, and all of them look delish!

Linda Kinsman

Wednesday 30th of March 2016

I cook from scratch as often as I can. I also collect cookbooks so this is perfect for me. Thanks for hosting!

Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids

Thursday 17th of March 2016

I love cooking from scratch and take pride in doing so. Great tips for getting started and thanks for the giveaway!

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As an Amazon Associate Michelle Marine, SimplifyLiveLove, earns from qualifying purchases.