Ready, Set, Cook! A Beginner's Guide to the Kitchen

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.

Do you need to know how to cook to succeed with weight loss surgery? Absolutely not. But without at least a baseline knowledge of how to prepare healthy meals at home, you will be left with two decisions: constantly grabbing fast food, overly processed frozen meals, and takeout, or you’ll be blowing your budget on healthy ready-to-eat meals. You certainly don't need to be a chef or have years of experience in the kitchen. With the right attitude and some practice, anyone can become a master home cook! Read on for my top tips on how to start cooking as a beginner.

1) Learn the basics. The first step in learning how to cook is mastering the basics. Start by reading up on culinary terms and techniques like sautéing, roasting, and poaching — you'll be surprised at how quickly your confidence grows when you know what these words mean! Don't forget about knife skills; learning to chop vegetables and meat will make prep time much more manageable. YouTube tutorials are great for this because they provide step-by-step instructions which are easy to follow at home.

Additionally, try looking through cookbooks or food blogs for simple recipes that include pictures so that you can easily understand what each step involves. Let’s not forget there are some basic kitchen tools and items everyone should have in their home. A few must-have items include a cutting board, sharp knives, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and pots and pans. Once you have these essentials ready, it's time to move on to the food itself!

2) Find your go-to recipes. Start with simple recipes that don't require a ton of ingredients or prep work, maybe five ingredients or less to start. Pick out recipes that use familiar ingredients, so you’re not overwhelmed by unfamiliar flavors or textures. Over time, you should build up your repertoire of go-to recipes that are easy enough for weeknight dinners but sophisticated enough for entertaining guests on the weekends. Remember, it's okay if your first attempts don't turn out perfectly; just keep practicing until you get it right! For easy, 5-ingredients or fewer recipes, check out this BariMelts Bariatric Cookbook!

3) Experiment with new flavors and dishes. Once you feel comfortable with basic recipes, challenge yourself to try something new every once in a while. Try making dishes from different cultures or experimenting with unusual ingredients like spices and herbs. Not only will it help diversify your cooking repertoire and give you an appreciation of all types of food from around the world, but it will also introduce new flavors!

So, if you’re new to the world of cooking, learning how doesn't have to be intimidating! Start small by mastering the basics and building up a collection of go-to recipes that are easy but delicious. Remember that after WLS, you’ll focus on high-protein meals accompanied by high-fiber carbs and healthy fat sources. With determination, patience, and practice, anyone can easily learn how to cook their own meals at home.

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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