“Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” True… but only if he can cook.

Food is always on my mind… I can’t help it. I love to eat, and as anyone who’s eaten with me knows, I can put away quite a lot of it, and fast. Funny enough, as much as I enjoy eating, I love cooking more. It’s fun and exciting to take raw ingredients and turn them into an aromatic, and flavorful dish. There’s a sense of pride that comes with cooking something that everyone, not only yourself, enjoys. Not to mention the social aspect of cooking with friends or family. The tedious tasks of chopping, and peeling become far less mundane when you’re recounting events of the day/week/month… and somehow funner (I know it’s not a word).

Many people who start a “Paleo” way of eating don’t actually find it hard to eat “Paleo”. To be honest, it’s not rocket science. For the average American it means eating more vegetables (which most people admit they should do anyway), and not consuming high amounts of sugar and processed foods (basically things that come in boxes and/or wrapped in plastic…and, again, most people agree they should do this anyway). These two things make sense to people. The problem then becomes how? 

Those who eat, or are striving to eat, “Paleo” have to be able to cook. Period. Now you don’t have to be the next Iron Chef, or possess the skills of a career line cook, but you’ve got to be able to know your way around a kitchen… being able to recognize and handle raw ingredients doesn’t hurt either, but isn’t a must.

“But Justin, I’ve never actually cooked a meal from scratch.” Well today’s as good a day as any to start… and who said “from scratch”?

Ok, so how do you eat an elephant?… One bite at a time. The same can be said for learning to cook. You learn, one dish at a time.

Cooking can be as simple or as complex as one wants to make it. You can take a rotisserie chicken, shred it up, and put it on top of some pre-made salad mix. You can take pre-cut vegetables, toss them in a crockpot with some meat, and a spice packet. You could create your own marinade, marinade some chicken, pork, beef, etc… and then bake, grill, or smoke it. In my mind, it’s all cooking. You just need to find where you are on the experience/comfort scale, and go from there. 

Start with the vegetables. You’ve seen them pre-chopped, so now try to take the raw ingredient and duplicate. Worried about cooking time? Use a crockpot and you’re pretty much  guaranteed never to over cook it. Can’t tell if it’s “done”? Grab a cheap meat thermometer (So what if the first couple of times your meat has more holes than swiss cheese). The important thing is starting where you’re comfortable, and then expanding your skill set slowly over time. Don’t forget, with Google and YouTube at your fingertips, all measure of cooking knowledge is just a click away. Not to mention you can always take a cooking class (again, it’s always funner with friends).

The point is, get out there, and get cooking. Develop your knowledge, skills, and abilities as you experiment, and experience. So what if it’s a little burnt (scrape it off), or there’s pieces of shell (pick them out). Learn from your mistakes, and your successes. Honestly, it’s pretty cool being able to cook, and it’s not a “Paleo” thing either. It’s about developing a life skill. One that not only stays with you no matter your diet preference, but one that can  be passed on from friend to friend, sibling to sibling, and parent to child.