“Cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.” - Julia Child
Have you thought about opening a cookbook and making your own dishes rather than eating ready meals, instant soups, and leftovers?
A lot of people enjoy cooking.
What about you?
Learning to cook can be quite the investment once you’ve bought the equipment you’ll need to make your own dishes. However, once you've got the equipment, it'll pay for itself as you can make hearty and healthy meals.
Whether you’re cooking simple recipes or haute cuisine, you should probably opt for seasonal produce. In addition to saving money, you’ll also get the nutritional benefits of these products and you'll find it much easier to eat well.
How Much Does Cooking Equipment Cost?
To change your eating habits and start making your own delicious meals, you’ll need to get a few essentials. While you might think cooking on a budget is difficult, you don’t need a kitchen like they have on Masterchef.
You’re not going to be doing molecular gastronomy but rather some simple home cooking and healthy meals.
Here is some essential cooking equipment you should get for preparing your ingredients and how much they cost.
- A peeler for fruits and vegetables. These usually cost under £10. You should pay attention to what it’s made of (stainless steel, ceramic, plastic) and how sturdy the handle is.
- A good knife for cutting, slicing, etc. You’ll probably pay around £20 for a decent knife. Cheaper knives don't tend to last. Don’t forget a knife sharpener, too.
- A chopping board since you wouldn’t want to wreck your bench. This usually can work out between £5 and £10 depending on what you go for.
For cooking meat and vegetables, you should get the following:
- A saucepan. If you live on your own, one should be enough. However, it’s recommended that you get two. A 20cm diameter saucepan ranges between £15 and £30.
- A frying pan. The price will vary depending on the quality and the covering. A 28cm diameter frying pan can cost between £15 and £40.
- A wooden spoon and spatula. These are often sold as a pack and are useful for mixing and won't scratch your pan when you stir a sauce. They usually cost around £5.
- Lids so that your sauces don’t spit onto the counter. You can get glass or stainless steel lids. You can buy them separately for between €15 and €25 or get pots and pans that come with them and you’ll save more money doing the latter.
- A strainer. Opt for a strainer with small holes so you can use it for stock, rice, and any type of pasta. This usually can work out between £5 and £10 depending on what you go for.
- An oven dish. This is essential for cooking stuff in the oven. They’re usually made of glass, but you can also get stainless steel ones. They cost between £5 and £20, depending on the size.
Of course, if you’re interested in baking, you’ll probably want a measuring cup, kitchen scales, and mixing bowls. When you cook for yourself, you can choose what you eat and, therefore, eat more healthily and save money.
So when are you going to start?
How Much Do Cooking Courses Cost?
There are several options for those who want to learn how to become a chef:
- Attending a cookery school
- Doing a cooking workshop
- Studying a degree in gastronomy
- Taking private cooking tutorials
There are cooking schools in larger cities. Thus, a student who wants to learn traditional recipes may have to spend a substantial amount of money.
For example, the Cordon Bleu in London is a culinary arts, wine and management school that was founded in the early 1930s with a focus on the cooking techniques that were being taught to gourmet French chefs. The school was initially founded as L’Ecole du Petit Cordon Bleu by Rosemary Hume and Dione Lucas after being allowed to take the Cordon Bleu tradition to the UK.
Did you know that Hume created the recipe for “Poulet Reine Elizabeth” for the Queen's coronation?
This recipe is more commonly known as “Coronation Chicken”.
The longer courses (such as the Grand Diplôme) can cost nearly £35,000 for 9 months. This is the kind of course where you will learn the art of cooking, every single technique, and all the cooking methods that the worlds best chefs have mastered. Of course, since you'll learn how to prepare a large variety of dishes, you'll be expected to handle seafood, veal (amongst other meats), and alcohol.
There are four main culinary arts diplomas offered by the school: cuisine, pâtisserie, boulangerie, and gastronomy and nutrition.
There are plenty of cooking workshops up and down the country.
The Diplôme de Cuisine can be studied over 9 months or intensively over 6. This is the course that teaches students classic techniques.
The Pastry and Confectionary diploma (Diplôme de Pâtisserie) also lasts for 9 months (6 months intensive) and includes cake making and decorating.
The Diplôme de Boulangerie focuses on making bread dough, viennoiserie, and other baked goods. This course lasts 7 months and is useful for anyone wanting to open and run their own bakery.
Le Cordon Bleu also offers short courses on various techniques, summer cooking courses, wine tasting, and cake decorating. These courses can be as short as two hours or as long as three weeks. These could be ideal for amateur chefs who want to get better at preparing pastry or gain some fundamental knife skills (in the kitchen, of course!).
You could also opt for private cooking tutorials if you’re interested in learning a few different recipes or culinary techniques.
On Superprof, a private cooking tutorial costs around £25 per hour. However, a lot of tutors offer their first hour of tutoring for free. This is a good opportunity to see if you get along. Of course, the cost will vary depending on where you are and your tutor’s experience and qualifications.
Find cooking classes london.
How Can You Learn to Cook for Free?
You don’t have to break the bank to learn how to cook. Quite the opposite. You can learn to make gourmet dishes for very little money.
As a beginner learning to cook on a budget, you might make a few mistakes, so here’s some advice to help you:
- Be organised: from going to the supermarket to making your dishes, you should avoid waste at all costs.
- Read the recipe before you start cooking so that you know what to expect.
- Test the recipe before you cook it for your friends and family.
To learn more about stress-free cooking, there are a few good options:
- Cooking MOOCs: a MOOC is an online course and you can study a variety of different subjects. There are MOOCs on cooking and you can learn the basics as well as more advanced techniques thanks to them.
- Video tutorials on YouTube: there are plenty of freely accessible video tutorials on YouTube with recipes and explanations of certain cooking techniques.
- Cooking websites and blogs: again the internet is home to a lot of useful resources for those on a budget. Check out some of the most popular websites and blogs for useful recipes and advice.
When it comes to cooking, practice makes perfect! You can find recipes for whatever you fancy from ham omelettes, lasagna, stuffed vegetables, beef stew, etc, and more often than not, the simplest dishes are the best!
Easy Recipes for Under £5
When we say dishes for less than a fiver, we’re not talking about canned beans on toast, instant noodles, or prepackaged sandwiches or leftover curry from the night before! When you go grocery shopping, you can fill your pantry with inexpensive and nutritious ingredients and start making healthier meals.
Make sure your cupboards are stocked up with useful vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, peas, etc. You can also keep veggies in your fridge or freezer for making filling stews, a casserole, a broth, or other money saving dishes like a stir-fry, chilli con carne, etc.
There are plenty of budget recipes available online or in cooking magazines and recipe books. Here are a couple of examples to inspire you.
Roast Camembert Surprise
Preparation time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.
Ingredients for serving four people:
- 1 Camembert
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 10g of raisins
- 4 large slices of bread
- Parsley and chives
- 100g of unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- Peel and slice the onion before browning it in a frying pan with butter.
- Add the vinegar and reduce for two minutes. Add the sugar and reduce for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cut an 8cm diameter hole in the Camembert and remove it.
- Full the hole with onions, raisins, and herbs.
- Put the lid back on the Camembert and wrap it in tinfoil.
- Cook for 20 minutes at 200°C.
- Toast the bread and cut it into soldiers.
- Serve with a green salad and cider.
Chocolate/Orange/Apricot Gooey Cookies
Preparation time: 15 minutes.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Ingredients for 16 cookies:
- 50g of unsalted butter
- 50g of slightly salted butter
- 1 egg
- 100g of cane sugar
- 200g of flour
- 1 orange
- 8 tender apricots
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 75g of milk chocolate
- Dice the apricots, zest the orange, and grind the chocolate.
- Beat the eggs, baking powder, and half of the flour.
- Add the butter and sugar and work the dough with your hands.
- Add the chocolate, apricots, and orange zest before adding the rest of the flour.
- Create 40g piles of dough (around a tablespoon) onto a baking tray.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 180°C.
When you learn how to cook, you’ll also need to learn the jargon. In each of our cooking articles, we’ve included a few definitions to help you so make sure to read the other articles.
Zesting is when you remove the zest (the outer coloured part of a citrus fruit peel) to use to flavour food. Don’t use the white part.
This is when you crush or grind something into large pieces. It commonly refers to a process used on tomatoes.