How to get started cooking for yourself

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[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W[/dropcap]hen I was little, I remember being in awe of my mother’s cooking talents. And while I loved her lamingtons and her legendary lemon meringue pie, the thing that used to really amaze me was the nights we’d have meat and veg for dinner.

Getting so many parts ready so they were all cooked at the same time. The peas, the potatoes and the chops or sausages. I was sure I’d never be able to do that.

And so I didn’t. We at least not initially.

I learned to make sandwiches. I learned to make salads. I learned to bake cakes and cook pasta and make a curry with rice and roast a chicken.

But it all came from one thing. Being willing to try.

And why am I telling you this?

Because I recently got a request from Christopher asking me give him some pointers for how to get started cooking.

So here they are…

How to get started cooking for yourself

1. Decide that you can cook.
Like anything in life, if you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, it’s probably not going to happen. So this first, is deceptively simple yet all important.

And if you’re not sure, trust me. You can cook. And one day you might even be able to say you love to cook.

2. Accept that failure IS an option.
Last year, I had my birthday lunch at Noma in Denmark which was at the time, the best restaurant in the world. One of the things Rene Redzepi, the head chef, is passionate about is for his chefs to ‘fail’ or have disasters from time to time. His philosophy is that if you aren’t failing then you’re not trying hard enough.

So here’s the thing, people that love to cook (that includes you now) know that there are going to be things that don’t work out. It’s expected. Surely if it happens to the best chefs in the world, it’s OK for it to happen to you? Right.

3. Make a salad for yourself.
Now that we’ve got you in the right headspace it’s time to actually touch some food! And the good news is you don’t need to invest a small fortune in a new set of knives. You don’t even need a kitchen really. A knife and a chopping board can be helpful but aren’t essential.

Try either this tuna and chilli salad or a chickpea and parmesan salad for starters.

tuna saladchickpea salad

4. Make a salad for someone else.
One of the things I love about cooking is the opportunity to nurture my loved ones. There’s nothing as rewarding as sharing something you’ve made with your own two hands.

As one of my students in my online class, the Healthy Meal Method put it… ‘I love making someone smile with a piece of my lemon tart’.

But it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A lovely fresh salad will suffice. And once you’ve had that feeling, it will motivate you to keep cooking. All cooks love the praise on some level.

Here are some salads that you might like to try for company:

bok choy & mustard salad-2
bok choy & mustard salad
chickpea feta & pinenut salad
chickpea & feta salad

shaved veg salads-8
shaved snowpea & ham salad

5. Try some soup.
So once we’ve got you hooked on the rewards of cooking, it’s time to actually apply some heat! Soup has to be one of the most underrated meals. And one of the most forgiving. Which makes it the perfect place to start playing with fire, so to speak.

All you need is a pot to cook in and some sort of heat source.

And the best news is a tasty soup doesn’t need to be simmering on the stove all day. In fact you can get a really lovely soup on the table in as little as 10 minutes.

I’d recommend starting with one of the following…

simple minestrone
simple minestrone soup
pea & pesto soup-2
pea & pesto soup

green curry of broccoli soup-2
addictive green curry of broccoli soup

white bean & tomato soup

And then…

And when you’re ready for more, explore the rest of the recipes on Stonesoup. I’ve been posting at least one recipe a week for almost 8 years so that’s over 400 recipes. Should keep you going for a while…

Like to learn more?

Let me know in the comments on Stonesoup. If there’s enough interest I’ll do a follow up post.

With love
Jules x


  • Hi Jules,
    I look forward to reading your emails because you always talk a lot of good sense. I hope you will give us more info. on how to get started cooking for yourself or any other topic relevant to beginner cooks.

  • My wife and I love that baby bok choy salad. We’ve been having that about once a week since the recipe was first posted. So simple, so tasty!

  • Wow!!!What I can say for this recipe is so yummy which nobody can resist to taste the same… I’m really fond of this one and looks for some new recipes.. Really nice..

  • I absolutely loved how you used the re-frame of when you were little for this blog post. I really appreciate all of the detail and passion you put into this post. Thank you for being so enthusiastic. Your soup look amazing, maybe I will try to make them one day. Thank you again.

  • I grew up cooking and had to teach my boyfriend when we met, as he had grown up in 2nd generation cook-less household. I found the most helpful thing was teaching him how to shop. He would buy microwave dinners because nothing was wasted. I started by teaching him to buy meat, a few veg, and a commercial stir fry sauce because he could use up all the ingredients and get a few meals out of it. Now he’s a more adventurous cook then me and refuses to lower himself to pre made sauces.

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