I need to learn to cook !!!

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
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want2bmortgage3want2bmortgage3 Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Old Style MoneySaving
i've been trying to learn to cook for a while but i dont seem to be getting very far. i'm veggie except for the odd tuna sandwich. i dont think this helps as most recipe books are based around meat dishes. ive tried various veggie recipes books and find that the recipes often arent filling, not including a proper source of protein.

when i go shopping i still struggle with what to buy. i've tried looking at threads on mse and theres the odd recipe i've tried but i still havent got any regular recipes i make. ive tried student veggie cookbooks and its amazing how few recipes in these are actually easy to make or dont require silly ingredients which make the meal cost more than a ready meal.

i am just finding it really frustrating and usually resort to things like a baked potato with beans/cheese or a pizza. i dont want to buy ready meals, but then again i dont want to be chopping onions all the time whilst thinking why am i doing this and making a load of mess when the end result never seems to be that great.

any replies appreciated... i used to be excited about learning to cook but now i'm just seeing it as a necesary evil.


  • What sort of food do you like to eat? A book recommendation is hard without knowing whether you have strong preferences for/against certain types of food (e.g. indian, mexican, any allergies etc).
    Also what would you consider a fancy ingredient - e.g. spices would be fancy if you normally cooked basic british food but not so much if you regualarly want to make indian.
    Anything you utterly hate? E.g. cheese, rice, beans

    I'm vegan and have waaaaay to many cookbooks so I'll try and recommend a few or some good basic recipes if you can let me know some preferences.
  • Bitsy_BeansBitsy_Beans Forumite
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    I found a receipe for a vegetable chilli. That was delish :)
    Do you eat soya mince eg quorn? I do things like for tomorrow a sausage and lentil hot pot in the slow cooker. If you eat vegetarian sausages you can just substitute meat for the veggie ones.
    I have a gift for enraging people, but if I ever bore you it'll be with a knife :D Louise Brooks
    All will be well in the end. If it's not well, it's not the end.
    Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars
  • flutterbyuk25flutterbyuk25 Forumite
    7K Posts
    If you eat quorn/soya/tofu then many meat recipes can be adapted to use these instead of the meat.

    I'm veggie and I have a load of receipes that I have collected from magazines that are meat, but I have a play round to make them veggie. Tofu is a good chicken substitute (as are quorn pieces - but I don't like these!), quorn/soy mince for meat mince etc.

    Start with the basics, pasta sauces, chillis, and then build upon these.

    Good luck

    * Rainbow baby boy born 9th August 2016 *

    * Slimming World follower (I breastfeed so get 6 hex's!) *
  • PasturesNewPasturesNew Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    I've been watching Jamie Oliver on TV today and I realised that most people have never seen things cooked, so I'd recommend you watch some cookery videos online. There are loads on youtube and on cookery websites.

    It shows you what they mean when they say a word. I used to think "a pinch of salt" was literally what my finger/thumb would hold if I pinched into some salt ... not much... but when you watch chefs say "pinch of salt", they put lashings in.

    Videos are definitely the way to go.
  • well i often find myself fancying meat (usually burgers/steak) so that must be the biological/evolutionary part of me but i feel too guilty to eat it. so protein is quite important, i want a meal to be filling. i also love carbohydrates like potatoes and pasta. i have no allergies. i like indian, there is a takeaway dish i really like which is quite sweet with banana, yoghurt and cream in it. i dont like anything too hot though.
    i think i'd like to compromise between cooking from scratch and a ready meal, as i dont feel like i have the taste buds to notice the difference between a jar of curry paste and a home made one (with all the time and mess to make it!).
    i like anything dairy, cheese, yoghurt. i only usually have baked beans and occasionaly chick peas or kidney beans. i dont like nuts unless they are chopped up (such as on an ice cream cornetto!).
    with some of the recipes ive used ive found they want fresh herbs and this is not very cost effective as they are about 89p usually and i dont have any growing myself.
    vegetable chili sounds good. i will eat quorn as its got a good texture, i like the escalopes. the mince/tvp is ok but seems a bit processed/unnatural. i like the cauldron sausages though. i just want some straightforward recipes that are filling, tasty and satisfying.
    it would also be nice to learn a bit more about a recipe and why certain ingredients are used, instead of others. most recipes are just 'follow this list' with no explanations. it would also help to be more creative, if a recipe wasnt so strict for example, one good one i saw was a korma but said add whatever vegetables you want such as... instead of just telling you to use a certain one.
    one recipe i'd like is for a risotto but i've yet to find one i like the sound of. dont really like mushrooms or nuts.
    hope to hear from you soon!
  • sandraroffeysandraroffey Forumite
    1.4K Posts
    good luck with the cooking. something that people need to undersand (as i keep telling my daughter in law) none of us were born knowing how to cook!!!

    we learnt, we watched others, we experimented, and we watched - and still watch - progs likejamie oliver and co.. yes there were a few disasters along the way but it all came out right in the end.

    you can do it, you just need to have a bit of confidence in yourself.
  • Bitsy_BeansBitsy_Beans Forumite
    9.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Honestly for me it was trial and error (and I am a meat eater). I've tried dried soya and it's vile. Not a fan of Quorn either (putting aside the whole GM issue).
    Reality is the more you try cooking the better you'll get at experiementing. Sometimes it doesn't pan out sometimes it does.
    I have some fresh herbs in my garden (which are hardly ever used :o) and most of mine are dried. You can still use these in your receipes just use a little less as they are more concentrated.
    I have a gift for enraging people, but if I ever bore you it'll be with a knife :D Louise Brooks
    All will be well in the end. If it's not well, it's not the end.
    Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars
  • LeeSouthEastLeeSouthEast Forumite
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    Buy an ordinary cookbook and just substitute any meat in it for meat-substitute?
    Starting Debt: ~£20,000 01/01/2009. DFD: 20/11/2009 :j
    Do something amazing. GIVE BLOOD.
  • edited 31 May 2009 at 10:32PM
    8.8K Posts
    edited 31 May 2009 at 10:32PM
    Try this for starters. It isn't a starter, but you know what I mean. I've even edited out the alternatives involving anchovies. You don't get that from Jamie or Delia.


    Per Person


    1 clove of garlic
    1 tablespoon of olive oil
    125ml of water
    ¼ of a teaspoon of salt
    100g of spaghetti
    Ground pepper to taste


    Peel the garlic and chop it into tiny pieces.

    Put the oil into a frying pan on a moderate heat. Add the garlic. Fry the garlic for about 5 minutes until it is brown, stirring to stop it sticking.

    Put the water and salt into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Put the pasta into the water. Stir it to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring back to the boil and continue to cook, stirring to stop it sticking.

    Begin testing the pasta about 2 minutes before the packet instructions say it should be done. The best way to judge if pasta is cooked is to bite it. This is tricky, because if you fish out a bit and stick in your mouth you may burn your mouth on the boiling water. Wait a bit and blow on it, then bite it. If it is hard it needs longer. If it is chewy (or ‘al dente’, Italian for ‘to the teeth’) it is ready. If it is soft it is overcooked.

    Drain the pasta in a sieve or colander. Season with the pepper.

    Always ‘take the pasta to the sauce’. Put the pasta in the pan with the sauce and stir until thoroughly coated.


    Use any other long thin plain pasta, like linguine (thin and flat), tagliolini (very thin and flat) or spaghettini (very thin and round), instead of spaghetti.

    For Garlic & Parsley Pasta, add 25g per person of fresh parsley. Wash, shake dry and finely chop the parsley. Add the parsley just before serving.


    If you use enough water, add the pasta when the water is boiling, stir the pasta and don’t wander off (‘Gli spaghetti amano la compagnia’ or ‘spaghetti loves company’) and don’t overcook it, adding olive oil to the water to stop it sticking is totally unnecessary.
    PS. I have seen this dish on a restaurant menu for £8.50!
    The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in my life. :)
  • edited 1 June 2009 at 11:47AM
    twinkle_star_2twinkle_star_2 Forumite
    343 Posts
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    edited 1 June 2009 at 11:47AM
    Hello again,

    I'd definitely recommend watching some cookery shows on tv/internet as previously suggested as just seeing other people cook will help you absorb information about what/why/when to cook things really easily.

    For good basic recipes I think your best bet is to probably go for a cookbook aimed at meateaters as vege books that I have found so far tend to assume you have more knowledge of cooking. I think the very nicely titled book "How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even If You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans ... - Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher..." by Gill Holcombe is a pretty good one as it contains some nice basic recipes like spaghetti, stew etc.

    Also, this may sound totally cheeky, but have you ever looked at kids' cookbooks like the usborne children's cookbook. It sound daft but I still use the one I had as a child and it explains all the steps (and the recipes are good basics with some fancier bits). Plus you can get them super-cheap second hand on amazon.

    Try out cookbooks before you buy them by getting them from the library - it'll avoid expensive mistakes when you get the book home and realise you don't actually like the recipes (I have done this more times than I care to admit :))

    I'll come back shortly with some simple recipes if you want and I'll annotate them with why ingredients are used. I was thinking - curry, spaghetti bolognaise/meatballs, mushroom pie, some kind of couscous thing. If you want a specific thing/type of recipe let me know and I'm sure myself or someone else will have a really easy version somewhere.

    To finish, a super-easy recipe: Creamy vegetable pasta

    For one person:

    1/2 red pepper (or a whole one depending on how much you want)
    1 small courgette
    a little oil
    salt & pepper
    75g penne pasta (or as much as you want - i chose penne because it's cheap and the tubes will hold a bit of creamy sauce inside but you could use any)
    creme fraiche (about 1/3 small tub)
    wholegrain mustard (1-2tsp)

    I chose the veg because they go with the basic Italian concept of pasta, they cook in a similar time and they're both quite sweet (this is a sweet, creamy and comforting recipe). You could use different coloured peppers, aubergine, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms etc. I like to vary the veg depending on what I have or fancy.

    Chop the pepper into bitesize pieces, discarding the seeds and stem area.

    Chop the courgette into chunky slices or fat sticks (you wnat the pieces slightly larger than the peppers as they cook faster).

    Put both vegetables on a baking tray, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in a hot oven (Gas 6/190C roughly) and roast until soft and cooked (how much you cook them is up to you - i like them roasted until they have black edges but that's totally just me).

    While the veg are roasting cook the pasta according to the packet.

    When both pasta and veg are cooked put them both in a bowl and add a teaspoon of mustard and dollop over enough creme fraiche to create a nice sauce (you'll need to mix it through to ensure you've got enough to cover the pasta). You may want a little more mustard (it creates a pleasant bitterness to offset the cream) but don't add too much at once.

    Voila. Dinner. If you want a protein hit use some broad beans or I've also stuck a couple of vege sausages in with the veg to cook and then chopped them into chunks to create 'meatballs'.

    Hope some of that helped.
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