This Metafilter post came up this morning in my blogroll. It’s incredible how often I hear, read, or am told about this situation.

You never need to love cooking, but it does help. A lot of folks cook every night for themselves and their loved ones. I can’t believe they all love it; I love to cook but there are nights I really don’t want to do it (and some nights I wimp out and order in, insist we go out, or prepare a ready-made not-from-scratch meal).

I really don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way to go about it; but here’s the advice I typically hand out.

1. Get a cookbook.
There’s thousands out there – but you want something that you can actually use. Something for beginners. Googling a bit on the topic of “beginner” and “cookbook” should net some good results. Go to your local store and start with the basics – ignore any of the specialty books that focus on just one type of cooking (baking, broiling, grilling, etc) or one type of flavor (Chinese, Greek, Italian…).

If there’s a cookbook store in your city, start there. The clerks can often help you find a good book to start with. You want something that will teach you the basic techniques and vocabulary. Neither of which should be complicated.

2. Read it.
You can skim over the recipes – but read all the bits in between. Find a few recipes you’d like to try and mark them somehow.

3. Make a list.
Of what you’ve got in your pantry.
Of what you’d like to try to make from the cookbook.
Of what you need to buy.

4. Go shopping.
Take your list!

5. Do it.
This is the hard part. If you’ve selected a simple recipe – you should be fine, but actually starting a meal is hard. Fight the inertia!

Cooking from scratch is not difficult, it can be time-consuming, and is always rewarding. If you cook extra – you can freeze the leftovers and have them either for lunch or supper later. It’s usually cheaper than buying both lunch and supper every day and healthier too.