Food brings cultures and people together. You’ll find joy and laughter at a table during thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner. As you travel, you’ll find that communication with natives might be difficult however one thing that brings people close is food. You’ll find all sorts of people standing in front of a street food cart or in a line at a restaurant, all waiting patiently to get their hands on some delicious grub.

Cooking food has more benefits than just eating. It is a skill that is essential for survival. If you’re in the wild, there are some foods that need to be cooked before eating. You cannot consume raw chicken, hence knowing how to cook one can put you in a better survival position. 

There is so much to cooking food than one would think. There are different methods of cooking, various ingredients, an array of spices, keeping a cooking journal, generating cooking journal ideas and more. If you’re here to learn how to write a culinary journal, know the benefits of cooking, how to keep a recipe journal book and more, then you’ve come to the right place. Don’t expect to find tips on writing a cookbook template or a cooking journal template or create your own free printable cookbook promo or recipe organizer templates. We’ll guide you on the basics of keeping a kitchen journal or a recipe notebook and answer some of the basic questions that many beginners have in regards to cooking. 

Let’s begin.

How do you keep a cooking journal?

Just like how one keeps a diary to remember some important memories down the road, having a cooking journal helps keep track of recipes. How many times has it happened that you tried to recreate the same dish that you once were praised for, however, ended up having a completely different experience? This is why even numerous award winning chefs keep a cooking journal on hand to note down the recipes and any tweaks made to it. Some people even have a family recipe journal that has been passed down from one generation to the other.

Keeping a cooking journal is your first step towards learning how to cook. Putting a twist on a traditional recipe can become your signature dish and having it noted down in a cooking journal will secure it for generations to come. Food is known to bring people and cultures together. To do so, one goes through a series of trial and error in finding out what works and what doesn’t. A cooking journal keeps track of all these things to ensure the perfect recipe at the end of the day. 

Here are some tips to help you with how to keep a cooking journal or a personalized cooking journal.

  1. Use colored sticker tabs that will help you create sections in your cooking journal so that you can easily navigate to it whenever needed.
  2. Whatever recipe you want to embark upon, write it in your cooking journal. This will help with modifying the recipe later on to make it perfect.
  3. Add clippings from recipes and also images inside your cooking journal. You can write the changes made to the recipe and how it has affected the original. It will help you with understanding how a certain ingredient changes affect a dish. 

You can view cooking journal templates online. However, if you don’t want to take that route, simply download a cooking journal app. It’s convenient since you’ll always have access to it however we find that having a cooking journal is much easier to maintain since it’s physically present.

How do you keep a recipe journal?

recipe journal
Cooking Journal

If you’re wondering what is the difference between my recipe journal and a cooking journal then you’d be glad to know that a recipe journal is another name for a cooking journal. Just like the name suggests, it includes all your recipes and allows you to edit or scribble on it. There are a few ways on how to keep a recipe journal. The best journal for cooking or the best recipe journal is the one that has notes in it and is neatly categorized. 

You might even come across the title “baking journal”. It’s the same thing as a cooking journal, however a baking journal only includes baking recipes. A quick advice, always get a hardback recipe journal. Since you’re going to be using your cooking journal for a long time, it only makes sense to have a higher quality cooking journal. So, a hardback cooking journal should be your choice of recipe journal. Guess what? You can even give a recipe journal gift as a present on someone’s birthday (Someone that enjoys cooking of course).

What is a good cookbook to cook through?

With thousands of cookbooks on the market, which one should you go for? Well, there are a few things you can look for in a cookbook. This will help you narrow down your choices and select the right cookbook for you. 

A cookbook should be in the form of a thick papered book. It should feel good when you run your fingers through its pages. The aesthetics of a cookbook makes a lot of difference and is able to attract the attention of the reader. 

Cookbooks with large images and a superb print quality will keep you engrossed for hours making you want to cook everything in it. Photography is the key to a good cookbook. Brightly lit pictures with the perfect contrast and sharpness will keep you hooked.

There are multitudes of cuisines and thousands of recipes. To have them in one cookbook is absolutely impossible hence you might come across cookbooks that specialize in a single niche. Like cookbooks solely focusing on eggs will have nothing but recipes requiring eggs. Having a couple of niche cookbooks at hand will definitely come handy when you want to diversify your menu at thanksgiving or even simple gatherings. For example “Mastering the art of French cooking vol. 1” by Julia Child is perfect if you want to explore French cuisine. 

Take some time in thinking what type of cookbook would suit your lifestyle. It is important to start from the first level, so a basic cookbook with traditional recipes would work well for you if you’re new to cooking. 

You can also use a cooking book as a cooking journal. Simply add sticky notes to it or write in pencil if you want to alter the recipe a bit. You can also look at it this way. Your cooking journal right now is a cooking journal for you, however once it gets passed down to the next generation it might become their favorite cookbook or best recipe journal book. Hence, we suggest putting in the time and effort in maintaining a cooking journal.

What should a beginner cook?

When you’re heading to university and living in the dorms, what is the first thing you survive on? Packet noodles, eggs and bread, right? There is no such standard on what a beginner should be cooking. It depends on how you want to take this cooking experience, are you serious enough about it?

Sit down for a minute and think what you would want to cook. Write all the recipes you want to try in your cooking journal. Your cooking journal will act as a brainstorming platform for you where you can narrow down your recipes and start cooking your first dish immediately.

Grilled Cheese
Cooking Journal

There are certain recipes that teach you basic skills. Beginners need to practice basic skills to be able to cook well. Recipes like grilled cheese sandwiches and fried eggs teach the importance of temperature control. Melting butter for cooking eggs and toasting your bread will help you understand how temperature plays a role in cooking. Too much heat will burn your butter and leave a bad taste in your food. Don’t forget to note things in your cooking journal. 

Any dough and pasta dishes is essential if you want to cook a quick meal. However, learning to knead the dough and create homemade pasta will help you understand the basics of working with flour. This is a great beginner step to creating amazing baking products, pot pies, bread and more. 

Learning how to cook risotto will instill some good cooking practices in you like standing patiently watching your dish cook right in front of your eyes. Many people put the ingredients in a pan and disappear for a while letting it cook on its own, however most of the time they return to a disaster in the kitchen. Risotto is an easy dish that might take 20 minutes to cook but it requires constant attention as it is also easy to ruin a risotto. 

Write all these recipes down in your cooking journal. Here’s a wise tip and we’re not even going to charge for it. Categorize your cooking journal. Put headers in it so that all the recipes belong under separate categories. Pasta dishes would come under the pasta category in the cooking journal and so on. This will help in navigating through the cooking journal easily and in a systematic way. As a future chef, you’re not only expected to keep your cooking station tidy but also your cooking journal. 

If you’re looking to be great at cooking, then learn some basic dishes. Start somewhere as anything you cook will help you learn. Experiment with the dishes and note down the changes. This is the key to becoming a culinary expert. 

However, if you’re looking to simply survive in times when nobody is around to cook food for you then learning how to cook eggs in different ways or simply making a quick sandwich or salad can help you survive tough times.

How can I learn cooking?

Trial and error. Cooking is one of those skills that you can’t simply learn by reading cookbooks. You need to be in the kitchen practicing the dishes on a daily basis until you get good at it. Mistakes are part of life and in cooking, understanding your mistakes will aid you in creating something great next time. There are certain skills that we think are important to learn when it comes to cooking and these are:

  1. Basic knife skills are very important as it is required when preparing food. Some dishes would require dicing while others will need julienne cut vegetables. Without basic knife skills, you cannot excel at cooking. You need to know when to use a cleaver or a chef’s knife or any other type of knife.
  2. Master the four elements of cooking and they are salt, fat, acid and heat. Salt adds flavor while fat retains it. Acid creates a balance in a dish while heat plays with consistency. Learning how to work with these four elements will set you high above the beginners. Don’t forget to write these down in your cooking journal.
  3. Knowing how to season your food is a must. In some cultures people measure out ingredients while in most cultures, spices and ingredients are thrown in the dish according to how the chef feels. This is important to understand however salt and pepper is a must with any dish.
  4. Roasted vegetables are delicious and healthy to consume. One must know how to operate the oven and at what temperatures. Get your cooking journal out and start experimenting. Write down all the details, temperatures and outcomes. 
  5. Rice is a staple food in many countries and quite difficult to cook for beginners. Mastering rice will open an array of cuisines and menus for you to dive in. This is where your cooking journal will come handy. Simply take notes in it as you experiment with rice as there are different types of rice. You can even substitute rice with couscous as a healthy alternative. 

How do I learn to cook from scratch?

Cooking From Scratch
Cooking Journal

Cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients is better than eating out. See it this way, if you’re spending hundreds of dollars a month eating out then you can easily cut on that expense by eating in. It’s always important to get familiar with ingredients. Go to your nearest supermarket and have a walk around. See what is available. Your mind will instantly recognize the ingredients as you walk around the isles since those are used in the fast food or any other restaurant meal. That’s a good sign which tells you that you know your food items.

Take baby steps. It’s okay to take it slow if you’re starting from scratch. Learn how to hold a knife first and start to practice it whenever you get time. This is important as a knife can be a dangerous item if used improperly. Once you’re familiar with a knife, go to the next step which is prepping. 

See what is available in your pantry and again, take it slow. You can start by boiling an egg or even frying it. There are plenty of YouTube videos and cooking shows for beginners that you can resort to. Since you’re cooking from scratch, we suggest wingin’ it. Freestyle your food and see where this short culinary trip might take you. Adding things that don’t belong in a recipe is okay. This helps recreate a recipe and sometimes results in a great dish. 

The key thing to remember when cooking from scratch is to taste your food as you cook. Add ingredients, adjust seasoning and play with the temperatures. Tasting your food lets you know what’s going on and what is required. Note all the tiny tidbits in your cooking journal. Since you’re cooking from scratch, you won’t remember what you used later on. If the food turns out great and you want to recreate it again, your cooking journal will be your savior.

How can I learn to cook healthy?

With so much fast food around and even in cookbooks, it has taken away the spotlight from healthy cooking. People have resorted to a quick burger rather than making a hearty soup or french fries instead of baked potatoes. The reason for this is that many people believe cooking healthy takes a lot of time and can be an inconvenience. However, we’re here to tell you otherwise. Cooking healthy can be as quick as a fast food. How long does it take to set up a salad? That’s healthy right. Now you can play with the salad by adding grilled chicken or stir fried beef. Much healthy than having a fried chicken burger right? 

The first step to cooking healthy is to understand the ingredients and the benefits of it. It will take time to replace your diet hence starting slow is a great way to start. Substitute your diet with healthy food. Instead of having fried chicken, enjoy grilled chicken. You see where we’re going here right? Baby steps. You can note the ingredients and what you can substitute in your cooking journal. 

Here are some tips to help you learn to cook healthy:

  1. Get a healthy cookbook or watch videos on healthy cooking
  2. It is very important to add colors to your meals. This means including fresh fruit and vegetables in your meal. Greens are great for the mind and heart, so have lots of them. 
  3. Salt might add great flavor to meals however science has proven that too much salt is detrimental to health. Replace salt with other ingredients like herbs, umami or other seasonings. 
  4. Fill up your pantry with ingredients. If your pantry or kitchen is stocked up then it would encourage you to wear your apron and get the cooking on in the kitchen. 
  5. Instead of using lard or butter, convert to healthy alternatives like vegetable oils.

How long does it take to learn to cook?

It all depends on your goals, what is it that you want to achieve? Cooking includes transferable skills which means learning the basics of things can help you create multiple dishes and cuisines. Mastering the basics like knife skills, cooking temperatures and more would enable you to cook other dishes. If you’re looking to become a master, then it will take a long time to reach that level of experience. However, if you’re looking to learn the basics and survive by simply feeding yourself, then you can easily get it done in a couple of months.

It all depends on practice too. Again, we would suggest keeping a cooking journal. This will help accelerate your cooking journey as you would know what mistakes not to make. Keep on practicing as much as you can and learn from your mistakes. You can read books, tutorials or watch videos, but at the end of the day you need to practice cooking to get experience. 

Learning super complicated dishes in the start will lengthen the learning process. It is always better to start small. Jumping onto bigger things will waste your time if you don’t know the basics. Start with frying an egg. Simply frying an egg is a good experience as you would realize not to have the oil too hot as it splatters across the stove. Things like these are only learnt by practicing. 

In our experience, if you want to learn cooking, give yourself 3 months time. You won’t become a master chef (Perhaps maybe talk like one…) but you’ll definitely know what you’re doing in a kitchen.

How do I start cooking at home?

Number one thing to do is start maintaining a cooking journal. You might not feel like it’s important to keep a cooking journal but trust us, the best of the best chefs are still editing their cooking journals. 

The main concern of millennials when asked about cooking at home is that it takes time. Not really, it’s just that we don’t actually allocate some time to it. There are dishes that take 5 minutes to make and dishes that take hours. Simply cook those that don’t take too long. Just take some time out of your busy routine. Imagine this. You spend 20 minutes at a restaurant eating food when you can spend 20 minutes in your kitchen prepping, cooking and eating a meal. That can even save you money as well! 

Another great way to get you cooking is to subscribe to food delivery boxes. These contain ingredients for dishes and come with a recipe card that has instructions. The ingredients are already measured out properly so that you don’t have to measure them out. Food delivery boxes not only save time but also get you started in the kitchen. 

If you’ve never cooked in your kitchen before, it’s time to make a list of utensils and kitchen accessories that you might need. Refer to your cooking journal and write what you need to purchase in the cooking journal. Remember, a cooking journal will become your kitchen bible so always take the time to refer to it.

What is the best cooking app?

Cooking is a life skill that is needed to survive. Everyone knows how to cook something easy to help them in dire situations like being home alone when parents are gone on a vacation or when you’re at a hostel during university times. It could be something as easy as boiling an egg or stir-frying vegetables with various meats. However, a cooking app can sharpen your skills and educate you with some cooking recipes and hacks. 

There are thousands of cooking apps available on the online store. Which one should you go for? We recommend going for an app that is free. Recipes are available online at no cost at all, so it doesn’t make sense investing in an application. Apps are a quick way of learning how to cook as it can be found in your pocket on a smartphone and is with you anywhere. However, apps are not like cooking journals. You can’t scribble or amend things on the recipe. Use your app to print recipes and stick those recipes in your cooking journal. 

Check out the following apps to get you started.

All recipes dinner spinner is a great app that allows users to access cooking videos and recipes. The app has a lot of basics laid out so people new to cooking will find it easy in the kitchen while using this app. It’s free and even has a spinner to try your luck. Spin the wheel and see what you’re cooking tonight. 

Kitchen stories is considered to be one of the best cooking apps that are currently free. It offers HD videos and guides, stunning photography with instructions, kitchen tips and tricks. It is a great app for beginners to start their culinary journey. The app even has a measurement converter which is useful if you’re looking at ingredients in different units like grams and ounces. The app also has a bookmark feature allowing users to favorite recipes and get back to them whenever they feel like cooking it. It is a cooking journal app without the edits.

Apps are a great way of learning, however don’t make it a substitute for having a cooking journal. 

Why is learning to cook important?

We could think of a thousand and one reasons why learning to cook is important. Here are some of the benefits of cooking. 

You may have noticed in some chick flicks women end up cooking lots of food when they’re sad or stressed. Cooking releases endorphins that fight stress and alleviate the mood.

Cooking is a great way to save money. You might think that the restaurant you’re eating at is cheaper on your pocket than others around. However, you can save much more money by eating in and cooking your meals rather than eating out.

Cooking gives you a certain level of control. You get to choose what you want to have and how you want to have it. In the mood for a little more spice, sprinkle some extra to satisfy your cravings. You can’t get that when you’re waiting in a line at a takeaway restaurant or dining in. 

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