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New Year’s Resolution Update: Learning How to Cook

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

In January, I made a New Year’s resolution to cook at home more. I wanted to reduce my spending on takeout food and learn to cook.

I wrote an article when I was just starting my journey about how I never had to cook growing up because I was lucky enough to have a mom who was always home. She would make my breakfast, pack my lunch, prepare a snack after school and cook dinner.

The most I ever had to do was assist her in the kitchen, bake for fun with her or make a sandwich for lunch when I was old enough to make my own. 

It’s been three months since I started this journey, and I thought making an updated article would keep me consistent in my efforts to learn how to cook.

I started out feeling uncomfortable in the kitchen while cooking. I loved baking though. I can make bread, bagels, cookies, cakes, macaroons, pretty much anything, but cooking was not my strong suit. 

Since coming to college, I have realized how valuable it is to be able to cook all your meals. You save money, your meals are balanced and you might have leftovers to eat at another time.

After moving into an apartment, I watched my roommates work in the kitchen flawlessly and realized I needed to do that, too.

So, my journey began this year. 2024 was the year of cooking. 

It’s been going well; even my roommates have said they see me in the kitchen more, and I’ve been making my dinners more than I used to.

I usually stick to quick and easy meals. 

Mediterranean-style recipes are usually my go-to. I like all aspects of those meals, and they are relatively simple to follow.

I’ve been trying new recipes recently. The other day, I made an amazing lemon parmesan orzo with salmon and spinach. 

It tested my skills since I had to manage multiple aspects of the meal simultaneously. I usually try to cook meats in the oven, so it’s out of the way, and I don’t have to watch it. But this meal called for pan-frying, so I was expanding my skill set.

The process was a little stressful, but it was all worth it because the outcome was delicious. And I had some leftovers for lunch the next day.

Another recipe I recently tried was making my own falafel. It was a more time-consuming process since ingredients must be soaked overnight, but I tried it when I was home for a weekend, so my mom was able to help. 

They were delicious and the perfect addition to the Mediterranean bowls we had for dinner.

So far, I have enjoyed learning to be comfortable in the kitchen. It’s starting to feel a little more natural.

Right now, I’m just following the recipes or what I see my roommates use when it comes to using spices. But getting to know spices and experimenting with them is my next goal in my journey to learn how to cook.

I would love to know what a dish needs just by smelling or tasting it, and I think I will get there if I continue to learn my way around the kitchen.

For now, I feel like this journey has been successful so far, and I have actually stuck to a New Year’s Resolution!

Olivia Pettyjohn is a fourth-year journalism major at Penn State, planning to graduate in 2024.