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How to Start Cooking from Scratch with 5 Easy Tips

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I often hear from people who are overwhelmed with the idea of how to start cooking from scratch, but it doesn’t need to be a scary concept because it’s really not that hard! These 5 easy tips will help you get started.

5 practical tips to help you start cooking from scratch

How to Start Cooking from Scratch

1. Make a plan.

One of the best ways to start cooking from scratch is to plan a menu.

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’ve got lots of 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!

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.

prep veggies ahead of time to start cooking from scratch

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.

Marinade ingredients for greek marinated pork tenderloin

5. 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.

Bottom line, you guys. If you want to cook from scratch, make it happen! Like everything in life, this is a choice you can make AND follow through on. If you’re serious about cooking from scratch, you will do it. 🙂

Now, how about a giveaway for an awesome from-scratch cookbook, Prep Ahead Meals from Scratch by Alea Milham!

Prep Ahead Meals from Scratch by Alea Milham

One cookbook I highly recommend if you are just starting to cook from scratch (or if you’re looking for practical prep ahead tips) is 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. Traditional comfort foods like Skillet Scalloped Potatoes and Ham and Baked Meatballs are two of the recipes in her book. I love Alea’s tips for different ways to batch cook meat – she gives tips for using a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, stovetop, and oven for all different protein sources, including beans. Her recipes also have an option for going gluten-free if that is a consideration for you.

I’m excited to offer one lucky a reader a copy of Alea’s beautiful book! If you’d like to win a copy of Alea Milham’s book Prep Ahead Meals from Scratch, simply enter the Rafflectopter form before! You can also buy the book on Amazon for 9.99 for Kindle or 11.23 for a book you can touch and feel. Good luck!

More posts that will help you cook from scratch:

What to Eat When the Pantry’s Empty

What to Stock in Your Kitchen to Make Cooking From Scratch Easier

Must Have Small Kitchen Utensils to Make Cooking from Scratch Easier

Save Time in the Kitchen with these 25 Prep Ahead Cooking Techniques

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankSarah Floyd says

    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!

  2. blankLarae says

    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.

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