By Casey Seamon, YMCA Registered Dietitian


If you didn’t grow up reading your grandma’s recipes and helping your mom in the kitchen, then sorting through ingredient lists and making meals can be intimidating, uncharted territory.

With so many gadgets to choose from and celebrity chefs to admire, finding a way to simplify cooking and make it approachable has become quite a task. Even with my culinary background, I can get overwhelmed scrolling through Pinterest. Want to know how to choose recipes that won't overwhelm you while still keeping things fresh? Follow these quick tips. I’ve also included healthy recipes to get you going.

in the kitchen

 Look for recipes with a simple list of ingredients. Have you ever picked a recipe and then felt like you had to buy the whole grocery store to meet its requirements? Cooking delicious meals doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on extravagant ingredients. Choose recipes that use items you are familiar with or already own. For starters, check out this Ground Turkey Taco Salad.

 Read all the instructions before getting started. It can be easy to jump in and start with step one, but it's important to see the whole process so you don't wind up halfway through and realize you've missed something crucial. This will also help you decide if you want to take it on. So, familiarize yourself with all the steps before you get going. Here’s one to try— 5-Ingredient Sheet Pan Salmon.

in the kitchen

 Don't be afraid of messing up. There’s a difference between a recipe way beyond your limits and one that’s pushing the edge. If a dish seems scary, yet doable, just know that the only way to get more proficient in the kitchen is to practice! I recommend this Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry. The worst thing that could happen is that you end up ordering pizza for dinner. So what? Sometimes learning what doesn't work is just as important as learning what does. Take a chance on recipes that push your limits, and see what happens!

Keeping it real in the kitchen and creating healthy, delicious recipes doesn’t have to be stressful. Give these few basics a go, and soon you’ll feel like the pro!

Hungry for more?

Casey’s picks also include these Chicken Parmesan Wraps and this Vegetarian Chili. At the Y, we’re here to help you grow stronger and healthier. If you’re interested in Nutrition Counseling, schedule an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians.