For me, the hardest part of learning to cook was finding recipes. I would look at raw ingredients and think “what on earth am I going to do with these?” I would browse through my mom’s old cookbooks or learn from roommates/friends but after a while, I’d give up on cooking the raw ingredients and just buy premade frozen meals or eat the same 4 dishes over and over again. Then I discovered www.allrecipes.com
This is perhaps my favorite recipe site. I can typically find any recipe I’m looking for and usually, it tastes pretty good, if not great, when it’s all done. You can print or save the recipes into a “cookbook”, search by dietary need or by ingredient. There are blogs, cooking tips, video demonstrations…pretty much anything you can think of. And the best part of allrecipes is that it’s 100% free!
But don’t discount cookbooks. These are still the easiest, most convenient resource for recipes around. Libraries are stocked with them and you can try them out, for free, before you decide to invest in one. If your library is like mine, you can take out books for up to 12 weeks (including renewals). This is plenty of time to decide if you like a cookbook or not. I use the library all the time for this purpose. I have found some amazing cookbooks like C is for Cooking: Recipes from the Street and Cheap. Fast. Good. but I have also found some not so amazing ones. It’s nice to try out the cookbooks before shelling out the money for them.
Recipes also show up in all kinds of places, like this blog. No matter where you turn, you can find recipes. They are on the labels of cans and boxes and bags. They are on message boards. They are in your friends’ kitchens and recipe boxes. They are in novels, on advertisements and in magazines. And believe it or not, they are even in your head.
I’m the first one to admit that creating my own recipes is not my forté. I am much more prone to finding a recipe and cooking from that. But over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection of my own recipes. I have my own recipe for things such as egg salad, baked ziti, crab cakes, stuffed shells, lentil stew, vegetable soup, chicken parmesan and several stir fry dishes. They are not fancy dishes but I’m proud to say that they’re my own. I’ve also tweaked countless recipes to my and my family’s tastes; so while the basic recipe is not mine, the end product is all due to my creativity.
Recipes are everywhere. I know that it’s hard to narrow it down. So I suggest starting simple. Think about what you and your family like to eat the most and go from there. If you like hamburgers, look for recipes on how to make your hamburgers snazzier. If you like grilled cheese, try to find recipes to vary the sandwiches. If you like peanut butter, look for different ways to use peanut butter. Starting with one primary ingredient helps focus your recipe search and sets you on the way to becoming a cook!