This is Day 19 of our 31 Days of Less and More series. To read all the posts in order, start with Day 1 and check out our overview page to see the topics for the entire month.


(Fall in a bowl—Pumpkin Chipotle Soup with Barley)

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”
― Thomas Wolfe

THE DAY after our house fire, my sister took me to Knoxville so I could get the bare essentials.  I bought cowboy boots, makeup and a Le Creuset dutch oven.  That’s not a word of a lie.  She gently reminded me, when I insisted that I needed the dutch oven, that I didn’t really have a stove. Or a kitchen for that matter.  But, some of the things we have just remind us of who we are and apparently, I’m a woman with a good dutch oven—kitchen or not.

Needless to say, I didn’t use it for a while.  We ate out a lot and good people brought us lots of food.

We’ve all been guilty of taking the easy way out.   We worship at the altar of fast and easy.  It’s been a hectic day/week/life, we haven’t planned well for feeding our troops, and we cave to the allure and convenience of fast food.  I usually regret the decision, but every now and then, you just need a greasy burger.  I get it. But, for the bulk of your food, it pays to learn early in life to cook and cook well.  If you live to be 70, that’s 50 years of adult life and if you eat 3 meals a day, you’ll consume 54,750 meals.  That’s a lot of thinking about, planning for, and consuming food.  Or that’s a lot of McDonalds.  SO.  Here are some thoughts on learning to cook and enjoying it more.

1.  Remember that feeding people is perhaps THE most important way to love and care for them.  It can feel like a drudgery or you can see it for the beautiful mysterious gift that it is.

But, the only way to get more comfortable in the kitchen is by getting in the kitchen.

When I first started learning to really cook, I watched the Food Network and read lots of cook books.  You will learn to love it by doing it and getting better at it. Fifteen years later, one of my favorite things to do in this world is put on some good music, pour a glass of wine  and chop up some ingredients for a soup, or start some homemade bread.  Work that we do like that with our hands is rewarding in so many ways.  Start slow but be intentional about getting in the kitchen.

2.  Gather a few good supplies.  You need a cutting board, a good knife, a dutch oven and a flirty apron.  I have almost no fancy kitchen gadgets.  I don’t have a garlic press and I have a 1930’s style potato masher.  I hoard spatulas and wooden spoons, but that’s beside the point.  You don’t need much to get started.

3.  Stock your pantry with good ingredients.  I made a list for your here and you can download it and print if off.  If you have a well stocked pantry, cooking is SO much less frustrating.

4.  Organize your pantry and your baking supplies so that they’re easy to access.  I don’t hesitate when I want to bake because my pantry is well stocked and my supplies are easily accessible.  There’s a whole post on this in my ebook that might help you get started and more is coming on this topic next week!

5.  Cook!  All this will be for naught if you don’t just start.  Here are a few easy recipes to get you going.   Try my meal planning guide for busy moms.

 Challenge Day 19:  Plan a healthy, low sugar menu today for the next week.  Use some of the ideas from the post, if you’ve never done this before.  Think about your schedule and what night’s would be better for something in the crock pot or oven all day.  Make your list and then grocery shop tomorrow for what you need.  You CAN do this!! You’ll be so happy and organized with your week’s menu all planned out. Share some of your menu ideas with us in the comments below or on Facebook.


Be sure to read Ruth’s corresponding post, Less Sugar.

22 comments on “31 Days of Less and More, Day 19 {More Cooking}”

  1. I love to cook! I wasn’t always a good cook but, like you I practiced and read and experimented. Some things were epic fails. Others have been wild successes that my family requests again and again. One thing I think practicing makes you good at is how to read a recipe. I don’t mean reading it to make it, I mean reading it to learn how to improve make it your own. Some recipes need no tweaking at all the developer has done everything for you (oh happy day!). There are other recipes that I can read and know a spice or an herb would make all the difference, a little onion or a bit of apple (who knew?) would bring the dish together.
    I think cooking also makes me feel most like a mother and a friend. I love making a meal for my family or taking something over to a friend. I have also learned through cooking to receive that act of kindness as well. I know how much I love to bless someone with a meal when they are walking through the hard things of life and I have learned to let others do the same for me. It’s not as easy to be the receiver but when I think of that person in the kitchen, I smile and am grateful for them all the more.

  2. I just planned & bought all of my grocery items for the next three months. It was a HUGE undertaking & a very long day! But I am so happy to have it done & know that everything I’ll need is in my freezers & pantry. Of course, I’ll have to still buy fresh stuff & my Thanksgiving/Christmas menu items.

    I have always worked better with a plan, and though I’ve lapsed here & there throughout the years, I’ve consistently menu planned for the last 10+ years hen my oldest was born. It has been a life saver since the boys have become busier & everyone likes knowing what to expect! Thanks for your inspiration! xo

  3. I have to admit that I don’t like to cook. 🙁 I really wish I did because I’m a stay at home mom on a budget feeding seven people day in and day out. However, I kid you not, every time you write about how you love to cook and love to feed people it gets my wheels turning and I start thinking and planning out all the things I’m gonna cook (and how I’m gonna like it too)! Ha-ha! My husband would love for you to tell me more about how you love to cook! 😉

  4. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that a while back when you wrote about making pizza you shared the recipe for pizza that uses honey and I made it for everyone and it’s my husband’s absolute favorite pizza now.

  5. Hi Edie! Loving your 31 days of Less and More. Didn’t see a link to click on for the pantry list? Sorry if I just missed it 🙂

  6. Edie, this post is both practical and inspiring. You make such a strong point for driving past the drive-thru — cooking for ourselves and those around us is an act of love and nurturing that takes time and patience to master, but is so rewarding. When I was learning to cook there were many fails, but as I got better, even more successes. Happy cooking!

  7. Love this post! I love taking care of my family and love cooking (most of the time). I would love your pantry essentials list ~ there is no link though………thanks, Edie

  8. I was just telling my husband the other day that I don’t enjoy cooking;( I’m so envious of my friends that love to cook and use it as a destresser at the end of a long day… Your post is inspiring, thanks! I’ll keep trying;) Think I’ll start with the stocked pantry idea. Love your blog!

  9. Loving your blog since Finding it a couple months ago.
    I love to create (cook)! One thing
    That has been such a blessing to me, my mama gave me an
    My sister a recipe book several years ago after countless phone calls
    Asking cooking advice. My 2 sisters in law also have the same book.
    And now the grand daughters that are old enough to get in the kitchen on their
    Own have one too! That book is one of my most treasured possessions.
    Keep the great stuff coming! I love all you are doing!

  10. I’m from a looooooong line of southern women who love to cook for their families.
    It is an honor to cook for them…it isn’t always easy with picky boys, but one way to their hearts is through their stomachs.

    There is nothing much more rewarding than serving up a good meal and having them all but lick their plates. 🙂

  11. I have commented to you on this before but I just have to say it again: you have no idea how much you have inspired and encouraged me in learning to cook for my family. Your pumpkin soup and meal planning method in particular! I must say, it felt pretty good today to have 2 crockpots going all afternoon and a loaf of bread in the oven. 🙂 thanks again.

  12. I could barely boil water when I got married (1995), but was determined to jump in with both feet. We ate some pretty interesting meals in those first few months. One recipe called for 1/3 C fresh basil, and not knowing the difference between fresh and dried, I grabbed the jar of basil off my spice rack and used the whole thing! LOL. (My mom never cooked with fresh herbs, so I had never seen the real thing.). Now I absolutely love to cook and make just about everything from scratch-3 meals a day for a family of 8. Over time I acquired good tools that I wish some wise woman had told me to register for when I got married. Among those that impacted my cooking the most: a GOOD knife and sturdy bamboo cutting board, a Dutch Oven, cast iron skillet, KitchenAid Stand Mixer, and Last but certainly not least, a well stocked spice collection. When I discovered Penzey’s Spices my cooking really went to a new level.

  13. I JUST MADE THIS SOUP!!! WoW! So delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe! I substituted pureed butternut squash (love my food processor!) for the pumpkin (that’s what I had) and it came out beyond just fine!

  14. You are speaking my love language, Edie. I love to cook and especially in the fall. Tonight I made chicken marsala with a fall salad of arugula, pickled beets and sweet onions, thin-sliced apples, and bacon. Even the kids lapped it up and when anyone says “Mom this is sooo good!” it just warms me all over, because wherever else I fail as a mom, this is one gift I know I can give.

    Today was a lot of running around for church stuff and birthday parties. Had the day been my own, I would have stayed in to make pumpkin knot rolls and read book 2 in The Hunger Games, because the only thing missing from our meal was homemade bread. 🙂

  15. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your 31 days blog. I’m new to this site and hope to go back and read some of your previous stuff. I think I read somewhere that you live in Bean Station. Just curious if that was right. If so I love just on the other side of Clinch Mountain! I’ve been sharing your posts with friends who I know will benefit from them too! Thanks for do many inspiring things to ponder!!

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