Make Lunch, Not War: 4 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Cooking
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Did you have chores when you were growing up? Mine was cleaning and I was actually pretty into it. I could dust, wipe, vacuum, and sweep all day, every day. Just kidding (kinda). My sister was the one who was responsible for assisting my mom in the kitchen. When I turned eighteen and moved out, I had meal-plans for most of my first undergrad and then I met my now-husband, who just so happens to love cooking. I was well into my adulthood and I never really had a reason to develop food skills.
I then decided to pursue a career as a Registered Dietitian; alas, I thought, how can I give people dietary advice without being at least somewhat proficient in the kitchen? Wouldn’t that make me a hypocrite?
So, a few years back, I made a conscious effort to be more involved with the food preparation in my home. I was extremely intimidated, especially since cooking came so naturally to my husband and I just didn’t quite have that same instinct. However, I worked at it and dare I say, I now actually really enjoy the process.
Based on the journey I went through to get here, I've rounded up 4 tips on how you also can overcome your fear of cooking (which is apparently called mageirocophobia…I learned this literally whilst writing this post):
1. Realize that it's really not that big a deal
First and foremost, recognize that it’s not a big deal if you screw up. Chances are, you and any other members of your household will not starve. You might suck in the beginning; you might be slow; you might make mistakes, like overcook or undercook, burn the food or even burn yourself. So what? Have a sense of humour about it and have the story locked and loaded for the next self-deprecating-anecdote opportunity. Also, unless it’s been burnt black or severely undercooked to the point that it poses a food poisoning risk, it’s probably still edible regardless of whether or not it’s 5-star restaurant quality.
2. Start small
Secondly, start small. If someone else is the primary food preparer of your home right now, offer to help out with just washing and chopping some veggies first, so that you can get more comfortable in the kitchen without the pressure of actually putting together an entire meal. Progress to making low-profile side dishes, like Chandler did with his Thanksgiving cranberry sauce (any other Friends fans out there?). Even looking up recipes and going grocery shopping can get you more involved and excited in a very low-pressure sort of way.
3. Find simple recipes
Thirdly, find simple recipes with plenty of positive reviews from trusted bloggers. Not all recipes you see online are stellar and the dish may fail even if you follow the instructions to a T, through no fault of your own. This can be discouraging and make it difficult to try again. Avoid this by finding established recipes that many other people have already tried and found success with (why be the guinea pig yourself?). That will help set you up for success as well.
4. Have cooking dates
Finally, have cooking dates with your partner, family member, roommate, or friend, especially those that are more experienced than you. They can provide you with immediate guidance, tips, and feedback, which can really speed up the learning process. Food also brings people together and is a wonderful way to make memories and forge deeper bonds.
So there you have it! These are the things that I did to slowly develop my confidence in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Michelin-star chef, but I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come with overcoming my intimidation of cooking. I hope these tips help you get more involved in the kitchen as well!
Make lunch, not war!