Story Time – It’s OK to take Baby Steps

If you would have told me 7 years ago that I would be in the kitchen cooking about 5 days a week, I would have laughed in your face. I’ve never enjoyed cooking. Whenever I heard other people say that they love being in the kitchen or that it’s a form of meditation for them, it’s never resonated with me. It always felt like work. So you better believe that when I became good friends with Rishone, I took advantage of every opportunity to not have to cook for myself, but instead enjoy culinary creations from a professional chef. I was actually Rishone’s first meal prep client back in the day. He made my lunch and dinner for me 5 days a week, and I was in heaven! But all good things must to come to an end, so after maybe about two years of not having to cook at all, I quickly had to shift gears after Rishone pivoted his business model to small event catering. You might think, “Okay Susie, so this is when you started cooking for yourself then.” No! You’re crazy. This is when I started eating a WHOLE lot of Chipotle, Panera, and prepared Wegmans food. I did this for a lonnggg time. Too long. But after coming to terms that eating out that much was not good for my health nor my budget, I made the decision to start cooking for myself again. I will say, the good thing about having a professional chef as a best friend is that he was always willing to help me out with cooking tips and techniques. But when I would ask him for a recipe or how to cook something, you better believe he was telling me how HE would make it. Of course, he was giving me all the gems to make an incredible meal, but there were a lot of steps and attention to detail that I was NOT ready for. It all felt very overwhelming. I had to take baby steps…

So what did I do?

First off, I started by only committing to cooking a 1-2 days a week. If I tried quiting the take out meals cold turkey, I knew that wouldn’t be sustainable or realistic for where I was at at the time. I didn’t have the cooking skills needed to cook more than 2 days a week nor did I have the mental or emotional capacity to be in the kitchen that much. I kept it simple and hit the “easy button” when I could.

If I could buy green beans that were already cut and washed for me, you better believe that’s what I was going to grab at the store. Then those green beans were just seasoned and roasted in the oven. Easy peasy. Season and sear some chicken… Bada Bing, Bada Boom – Dinner is served. I cooked a lot of seared meat and roasted veggies.

Slowly, my cooking schedule turned into 3 days a week, then 4, and now 5. And although I still do a lot of simple seared meat/roasted veggies, I’ve slowly added in new things as my confidence has grown in the kitchen. My salmon with cream sauce? To die for. Chicken stir fry with a homemade sauce? Chefs kiss! But you can’t forget about that easy button! You better believe that sometimes I still use pre-made sauces for my stir fry when I don’t feel like making my own. And that’s okay, cause I’m still moving in the right direction as a cook. It’s all about the baby steps.

The reason I thought to share some of my cooking journey with you now is actually because of the beef stew I just made today. I’m not going to lie, my beef stew is bomb. (Recipe courtesy of Chef Rishone.) Normally I just grab the stew vegetables bag at Wegmans in order to make it a little easier on me with less to think about for the entire stew. I opened the bag of stew vegetables today and even though it wasn’t expired, the carrots were a little slimy. I took the bag back to Wegmans, planning on simply exchanging it for a new one. But unfortunately, they were out. I ended up buying all of the ingredients separately – the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Of course, it was a little more work to cut and clean everything, but totally doable. The reason I think it was doable for me at this point in time is because I took those baby steps and used some “easy buttons” to get me to where I am today with my comfortability in the kitchen.

All this to say – It’s okay to take baby steps. As much as you may think you need to dive right in, head first, into a new endeavor, that may be the last thing you want to do, especially if you know the failing involved in the learning process will deter you.

Let’s say you want to become a runner, but you’ve never run a mile before. Start by walking a mile. Then try jogging/walking, on and off, for a mile. Then slowly work your way up to being able to jog that full mile. Or maybe you want to learn how to paint. Instead of starting with a blank canvas and a pallet full of paint, try hitting that easy button and buy a “paint by number” kit, just to get you painting and learning some of the brush stroke techniques. You’ve just got to start moving! And it’s okay if the path you take or the pace you move at looks a little different than what other people have chosen to do. Just take that first baby step, and if you need a little extra guidance or maybe even a couple shortcuts to help get you moving in the right direction, just do it. Create that momentum. Sooner than later, you’ll find yourself running 5 miles or painting your own beautiful landscape by freehand and looking back to see how far you’ve come. I know I’m certainly proud of how far I’ve come in the kitchen.

We would love to hear from you! What baby steps do you want to start taking towards one of your goals? Or do you have any “easy buttons” that you have found to help you get started in a new skill or activity? Share the wealth in the comments. 

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