When I was a teenager, I stubbornly refused to cook anything (sorry, Mom). My second year of college I started to experiment with cooking in the kitchen of my apartment dorm, partially out of pure curiosity and partially because I realized it was less expensive than ordering take-out every night.
That reality holds true especially if you’re living in New York City. Cooking is a useful way of saving money, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. The learning process can be a roller coaster. And if you, like me, didn’t cook anything until your early twenties (or later), here are the phases you’ll probably go through on your culinary journey:
Phase 1: Optimism
This is the phase where you’re thinking, “Cooking can’t be that hard. You just throw some stuff in a pot. Mom didn’t have a culinary degree and her meals were delicious.” In your undaunted ambition, you buy everything you can from the supermarket and plan to cook every night of the week.
Phase 2: Crashing and Burning
Crashing of the pots on the floor and burning of the chicken cutlets on the stove, that is. One time I was late for an important meeting because I accidentally started a grease fire in my kitchen, and I had to ventilate the apartment and fan the area around the smoke detector until it stopped beeping. This cooking thing turns out to be harder than you expected.
Phase 3: Resignation
This is the part where you start ordering take-out again and you let all the groceries you bought go bad, because what’s the point of cooking if you’re just going to burn it and then have to order take-out anyway? Might as well skip a step.
Phase 4: Recovery and Persistence
Eventually, though, take-out takes a toll on your bank account, and you realize that you still really want to learn to cook. So you get back in the saddle. You call your mom and keep her on speaker phone in the kitchen while you have your pan sizzling. “Turn the heat down to medium,” she says. Maybe that was your mistake the first time.
Phase 5: Relative Comfort with Making a Home-Cooked Meal
You may not be a five star chef, but you can at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you made dinner for yourself each night. Maybe next time you go home you’ll cook for your mom to make up for all the years you didn’t contribute anything.
If you want to take a different route, Home Cooking NY offers some culinary classes that you can enroll in on Fever. They cost $100 each, which might undermine the “cook to save money” approach, but you know that saying about giving a man a fish or a fishing lesson. Plus, maybe you can impress your friends with your Italian, Korean or Middle Eastern cooking skills and they’ll bring some expensive bottles of wine. Whichever approach you take, keep calm and broil on! Bon appetite!