10 Essential Cooking Lessons from Mom

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Forrest Clonts)

How did you learn to cook? Was it through trial and error? Cooking classes? Reading the back of the box? A series of misadventures? If you were very lucky, you had a great teacher to walk you through the basics — how to roast a chicken, how to dress a salad, the essentials of grocery shopping on a budget. These are the lessons I think we all wish our parents taught us before we left home, and if you had a mom or dad who taught you all of that as a teenager, you’re among the luckiest!

But regardless of when you learned (and if you’re still learning), you can still get your cooking lessons from a mom — do you know each of these 10 essentials by heart?

(Image credit: Forrest Clonts)

Anne Postic, one of our regular contributors, explains her own background in cooking — she was one who had to figure it out after leaving the coop.

My mother was not an enthusiastic cook. She didn’t mind putting together healthy meals for our family, but while she was cooking, she preferred talking about sports, what we were doing in school, or what book she was reading. The closest she came to talking about cooking was telling us about her mornings spent volunteering in a local soup kitchen. (In retrospect, this may or may not have been a subtle reminder to appreciate what we had. It worked.)

She could put together multitudes of sandwiches pretty quickly, all while chatting with her fellow volunteers and the people who came in to eat. But she never really taught me how to cook. I guess she knew I would figure it out on my own.

(Image credit: Forrest Clonts)

But now that Anne has three sons, she is determined that they all know how to feed themselves (tolerably) well once they fly the nest. They are more interested in cooking than she was at their ages, so there’s a good start. She says, “I want the boys to be competent in the kitchen before they leave home because knowing how to cook leads to healthier meals and lower food budgets.”

“Now that I’m working full-time, I also want them to be able to put together a meal if we’re running late. They may or may not enjoy it as much as I do, so I want to show them that good, home-cooked food can be simple.”

She took a page from her mom’s book: keep it simple, keep it basic, and help the kids get food on the table in a way that encourages them that yes, this is not so hard, and that feeding yourself can be a lifelong triumph — not a drag.

(Image credit: Forrest Clonts)

1o Essential Cooking Lessons from Mom

Of course, not all of us are so lucky as to have had such hands-on instruction from a parent like Anne (not to mention one who is clearly so much fun in the kitchen!). But it’s never too late — if you also want a refresher in the basics, here are 10 essentials we can all relearn and improve on at any time.

Thanks, mom!

(Image credit: Forrest Clonts)