In my 20’s/30’s there was a 10-year span where I wanted to learn to cook but didn’t do anything about it. 😒
As of September 2015, I only thing knew how to cook one thing without a recipe (eggs) and I challenged myself to memorize 3 new dishes in 100 days.
Here’s an interview I did about the experience:
LTCF can mean so many different things. What does it mean to you?
For me it means not having to use recipes. My main goal is to cook more in general — just simple, everyday dinners. I compare of that type of cooking to driving to places you go everyday like school or work. You don’t need to follow directions to get to work everyday. At some point, you reach the point where you don’t even have to think about the steps. And that’s where I’m trying to get with cooking.
What was your biggest takeaway from the 100-Day Challenge?
I had 3 big takeaways…
1. Knowing your reason for setting any goal is so important. That reason is what will keep you going even when you don’t feel like working on it. For me, my initial reason was to save money. After realizing that I spent $5,000+ on restaurants in just 2 years, I decided to make it a priority in my life to learn. And over the course of the 100 days, I saved over $700, so it’s nice to see those kind of results.
2. Making a plan is also huge. If you don’t have a plan, moving in the right direction can be tough. At the very least, it helps to define 2 specifics: What’s your goal and by when do you want to accomplish it?
3. The Food Thermometer changed my life. You just follow the temperature guidelines depending on what you’re making, and it tells you exactly when your food is done. No guessing. It’s only $10 and I’d say it’s a must-have for any beginner cook.
If you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?
I would focus on just 1 dish. The more you can eliminate from your mind and to-do list, the better chance you’ll have of succeeding.
More importantly, there’s something I wouldn’t do differently. Having a schedule was the biggest reason why I had a successful experience. I never had to think, “What am I supposed to cook today?” — I just followed the schedule. My calendar kept me on track and before I knew it, I was at the finish line with 3 new dishes that I can now make whenever I want. 🏁
Did you come across anything unexpected?
I originally envisioned myself cooking 3 times per week, but that was too aggressive. I eventually settled into a routine of cooking once per week. I think once a week is the best schedule for beginners with semi-busy schedules. It helped me stay flexible in case something came up, and it gave me a chance to reflect on what I needed to improve the following week.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to try a similar challenge?
- Don’t try to learn 3 recipes. Start with 1 dish that you love eating, and cook it once a week. First of all, see if you even enjoy cooking it. If so, focus on remembering the steps and adjusting the flavors to your liking. The most important thing is: don’t make anything else until you’ve cooked your dish at least 3 times. In a few weeks, you’ll have it.
- Before you even start cooking, accept that you’re going to suck. You’ll be slow, you’ll forget some steps, and you’ll make mistakes. But don’t quit after that first attempt! It’s all about your 2nd and 3rd try — that’s when you’ll correct those mistakes. You’ll notice yourself getting better. That’s the fun part, so enjoy the process. The ups and downs are part of it. Then think of your 4th attempt as an edible Final Exam (that you can grade yourself on). 😀
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to the people?
If you’re on the fence because it sounds like a lot of time and effort, keep this in mind: Even if you don’t end up cooking all the time, just knowing that you have a memorized dish in your back pocket is a good feeling. And you can have that if you invest just a few hours. It’s worth it!
Finally, if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I’m happy to help. Happy New Year!
OTHER POSTS IN THE 100-DAY CHALLENGE SERIES
Day 1: Intro to Me & My Goal
Day 4: “Why Learn?” and My Cooking Background
Day 7: What Should I Learn to Cook FIRST?
Day 10: Pasta + Meat Sauce (Tomato Bolognese)
Day 21: Pasta + Meat Sauce (less Tomato)
Day 28: Pasta + Meat Sauce (Beef Stroganoff)
Day 35: Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs
Day 42: Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs
Day 49: Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs (coated with flour)
Day 56: Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts
Day 63: Miso Glazed Baked Salmon
Day 70: Miso Glazed Baked Salmon II
Day 77: Miso Glazed Baked Salmon III
Day 84: Final Exam
Day 95: What’s Next?
Day 100: Final Thoughts
Featured Photo Credit: Elli O.