I've long wanted to get better at cooking. I eat a lot of food, and would like to enjoy it. I've gotten to a point where I am comfortable following a recipe, and I bet you normally are fine following a recipe too. To follow a recipe, you must have two things. These two things have always surprised me in their difficulty.
- Decide what recipe to follow
- Have the proper ingredients on hand
There's a lot of planning that goes into eating. I don't love running to the grocery store. We go once a week. This means we have to plan out what meals we will eat, in advance. If I want to eat better, and cook outside my comfort zone, this means we have to figure out what meals we want to eat, which hopefully uses the items we have on hand. For example, if a meal requires a tablespoon of molasses, and you don't have any, you need a whole jar of molasses. BUT! Once you have that jar, you can use it in many meals before going to the store again.
This grows complex when you have a bunch of partially used ingredients lying around. I'm still trying to figure out what a "core" list of ingredients and supplies we need. It's this list of background knowledge that will make cooking easier. Right now, when I see a list of fifteen required ingredients, I barely know if we have any on hand, or if we don't, if we have any substitutions. This means fifteen ingredients presents fifteen little puzzles.
With time, and skill, fifteen ingredients will present only two or three unfamiliar ingredients, and picking recipes will be easy. Then, grocery shopping won't be so stressful.
In summary - if you want to be a better cook, know your pantry better.