The Beginner’s Guide to Cooking with Joy

As the most popular cookbook in America, Joy of Cooking provides guidance and inspiration to anyone who dares to cook—whether you’re a beginner or an expert in the kitchen. With this book at your side, you can learn to make hundreds of mouth-watering dishes with simple instructions and fun pictures that illustrate each cooking technique step-by-step. This Beginner’s Guide will help you tackle new recipes with confidence, no matter how much experience you have in the kitchen!

A man is cooking something
A man is cooking something

Be comfortable in your kitchen

A well-stocked kitchen is a key ingredient to making cooking fun. Plan on stocking some basics like butter, flour, eggs, and bread. You can cook almost anything with these supplies! The next thing you will want is some cookware so you have a place to cook on the stove or oven. Pots and pans are great if you love pasta dishes, while glassware is best for baking pies.

Try the store yourself or purchase from friends or family who may be upgrading their kitchen and give them your old items in return for free shipping. Finally, don’t forget about all of the beautiful utensils that make the cooking feel like an event. Silicone spatulas are great when cooking up pancakes, but can also scrape every last bit of batter off a bowl as well!

If there’s one tool you should splurge on it would be a good set of pots and pans that’ll stand the test of time. Be sure to think about what type of cookware you need before purchasing. For example, cast iron skillets are perfect for searing steaks and vegetables on the stovetop before finishing in the oven because they retain heat so well. Nonstick skillets are better suited for delicate tasks such as scrambling eggs and sauteing onions where sticking isn’t an issue.

Do a little reading up first

A girl reading a book
A girl reading a book

For those of you who want to learn how to cook, but don’t know where or what to start on, I have some advice. The first thing that I suggest doing is buying a cookbook – you can find them anywhere from local libraries or bookstores to online sites. Pick one that sounds delicious and has lots of pictures. This is important because the pictures will make your mouth water (which is your best motivation) and help you figure out what recipes sound good for cooking next time!

Then just pick a recipe from the book and start cooking! Don’t be afraid to experiment with new things, it can be hard at first and usually doesn’t work out too well the first few times. But if you keep trying different things eventually you’ll find something that works for you and makes life easier in the kitchen! And if all else fails…get creative, think outside of the box, follow your intuition, experiment, and most importantly: enjoy yourself.

Set aside at least 3 hours

Think of cooking as an expressive art form. For example, chopping vegetables can be therapeutic: it satisfies that innate need for order and control. You get messy, but you come out of it feeling satisfied and in control. If you want to engage in cooking with joy, start by mastering simple tasks.

Make a batch of soup or roasted vegetables on the weekend so that on weekdays when your time is limited, you have a meal waiting in the fridge that doesn’t require many steps or much time to put together. And if something fails (or you screw up)? Don’t worry! Figure out what went wrong and try again until you get it right.

This isn’t hard! Anyone can do this! The first step is all about acknowledging that cooking can be more than just putting ingredients in a pot. It’s about engaging fully with the process and making food for yourself and others. The best part? Once you’ve mastered these skills, cooking becomes easier than ever before, which means more time to enjoy life outside of the kitchen!

Keep all the ingredients and tools you need on hand

Wooden spoon and knife
Wooden spoon and knife

Cooking starts with getting the right tools and ingredients together. Start by making sure you have all your cooking equipment ready and in a convenient place, so you can grab it as needed. Next, gather the raw food materials that you’ll need for the recipe. For most recipes, this will be some kind of protein and vegetables or other produce, such as cheese or rice, or potatoes.

Check off any special items you’re using (such as lemons or oregano) on the list below so you don’t forget them. It’s always better to over-prepare than under-prepare! That way, if something unexpected happens while you’re cooking—if someone needs help stirring because they burned their hands on the stove, if you run out of onion—you’ll have enough ingredients to finish up the dish.

Always read through the recipe before starting; sometimes there are helpful tips or information about what might go wrong while you cook and how to fix it. In general, it’s best to make sure everything is prepped ahead of time and at room temperature: You want your oven heated before putting anything in there!

That way, your dish will cook faster without risking burning anything or overcooking any part. Before you start cooking, set timers to remind yourself when the dish should come out of the oven. And once it does come out? Don’t just set it aside and wait for people to eat. You’ve made an amazing meal, now show everyone by tasting it!

The easiest way to do this is to take a little taste from each component separately–for example, dip a piece of bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture or try mixing different types of salad dressing in separate bowls–then put them all together. And remember: A little bit goes a long way!

Helpful tips

  1. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need and that they’re all fresh, especially your veggies.
  2. Use salt in moderation as it can easily oversalt foods and give them a washed-out taste. Pepper can also be overused, which makes the food taste too peppery for some people’s liking.
  3. Taste your food often to make sure the flavor is just right for your taste buds and what you’re cooking. If something needs more seasoning or is too salty or peppery, add more of that ingredient but in small increments.
  4. Clean your workspace! Make sure everything is put away neatly when you’re done so that when you go to cook again next time, you don’t have to waste time looking for utensils or bowls.
  5. If this is your first time cooking on the stovetop, use pots and pans with handles – easier for carrying things around!
  6. Always remember that once you’ve added an ingredient into a pot or pan, never take it back out! It will ruin the dish.
  7. Add oil at the very end of cooking to help keep the food from sticking to the bottom of a pot or pan.
  8. Remember: follow these tips and soon you’ll be ready to cook anything your heart desires!


In many households, especially those of the millennial generation, families, and groups of friends share meals. Even if you are living alone, cooking for yourself is a chance to spend time making food that is exactly what you want it to be. Once you have learned the basics, the journey will take your skills in new directions and introduce you to new dishes and ingredients. We hope this beginner’s guide inspires more people than ever before to cook and enjoy their meals in joy.

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