Choosing to go gluten-free can create some challenges with eating out, so it may end up being safer (and tastier!) to create your own meals. Cooking at home can be much more economical and is a great way to get your friends or family involved and learning more about eating gluten-free. If you don't know how to cook or are uncomfortable behind the stove, these tips will help familiarize you with the basics.
Before you start cooking, you’ll need to go to the grocery store (see Grocery Shopping). Don’t forget to utilize the GFP Menu-Planner because it will create a shopping list for you. Start by choosing the easiest dishes to prepare.
- You will make some mistakes when you get started. That’s ok! Be willing to laugh and learn.
- Use the GFP Recipes & Meals/Snacks. The GFP Recipes and Meals/Snacks are easy-to-follow and organized in a way that makes it easy to make sure you have all of the ingredients you need.
- Stay focused - it is easy to get distracted and forget to add a key ingredient (or add it twice!).
- If you don’t have all the ingredients, try the recipe anyway! Most recipes are pretty forgiving, and you can use what you have. For example, if it calls for 5 kinds of veggies, but you only have 3, go for it anyway. Note that some ingredients (like eggs for baking) are not able to be skipped!
- It's ok to cut a recipe in half or double it to make more. Try using measurement converters to help translate new amounts - like ½ tablespoon = 1 ½ teaspoons (3 teaspoons/tablespoon). Write down the new amounts of ingredients so you don’t get confused.
- Cooking is not necessarily more time consuming - there are plenty of recipes out there that can be prepared in about 10 minutes - less time than it takes for take out!
- Cooking at home is more economical than eating out. Meals prepared at home are typically more cost-effective than restaurant food, even accounting for using higher quality ingredients!
- Unless you are preparing food yourself, you can never be sure of exactly what is in it. The best way to eliminate contamination risk is to make it yourself! Plus, you have the power to determine how much sugar or salt you want in it, the quality of the oils, using fresher ingredients, etc.
- Don’t invest in a lot of fancy cooking gear - most dishes can be made simply and with few tools. A frying pan, pot, good knife and wooden spoon will get you through most recipes! Start with the basics, and add more from there.
- Use music - it helps prevent feeling bored or lonely in the kitchen. It can also help set the mood and keep you motivated!
- Food will cook faster if it is in smaller pieces - the smaller you chop something (meat, veggies, etc.), the faster it will cook. So, if you’re trying to make a quick meal, take time to chop your items smaller.
- Soup is the most forgiving item to cook - the ingredients don’t need to be exact, it’s a great way to empty out your fridge, and it’s so tasty! There’s nothing like homemade soup - fresh or re-heated. This is a great way to cook economically and have plenty of leftovers for later in the week. Check out our great selection of soup recipes.
- There is something rewarding about preparing your food - with your skill, creativity and thoughtfulness, you are creating food that will be more satisfying.
If after reading this, you’re still feeling resistant to learning how to cook, there may be a few ways to get around it until you’re feeling more ready to undertake learning a new skill. There are more and more prepared meals being offered by caterers, deli’s, restaurants, chefs, etc. They generally prepare to-go meals readily available for pick-up to be eaten at home. Ask your local proprietors about gluten-free options.
In-home chefs are also more widely available, and are becoming more affordable. If you really don’t want to get invested in cooking at home right now, this might be a great option for you to get food that is delicious, nutritious and gluten-free. You can work with the chef to create a meal plan that works for your budget, dietary restrictions and food preferences.
Finally, utilizing prepared foods from the grocery store might also be a good option. Read labels carefully, looking for any food allergens, and the gluten-free guarantee. Remember that food that has been processed is generally less nutritious than freshly prepared food, and if this is where you need to start, that’s just fine!
Cooking is a skill that needs to be practiced in order to get perfect. Most good cooks will tell you that it gets easier and easier over time. Starting out with simple recipes is the best way to build your confidence in the kitchen. An open mind and lots of laughter are always the most important ingredients!!