At the grocery store
If you are looking for a new recipe, recipe inspiration or simply learning to cook, a quick and easy place to get started is your local grocery store. With your smartphone and determination you can walk out with some great ideas. You see many grocery store foods are not complicated to cook at home. They just contain a lot of ingredients to preserve them well past their natural expiration date.
Walk down the aisles, especially in the frozen meal section and pick up a package that looks good. Then flip it over and read the ingredients. Chances are many of the ingredients are all things you can find just a few aisles away. Write down the ingredients you recognize. Then flip it over to take a picture of what the meal looks like on the box. Now you are ready to go. You have a picture and ingredient list to start shopping.
In the kitchen
So you've collected all the ingredients and are home in your kitchen, staring at the ingredients, ready to cook. Great! One last thing to understand. The ingredients on a food label are listed in order of amount from largest to smallest amount. So when you begin cooking make a mental note that an ingredient last on the list is just a tiny pinch compared to the first two or three. Now get cooking!
There is of course some risk involved because you do not have the exact measurement of each ingredient. That's okay. Just begin with educated guesses and if you have eaten it before then just recall the intensity of flavor of each ingredient, especially the spices and herbs. When in doubt start conservative and adjust during cooking. This method applies to all categories of food but is more delicate for bakes goods because there is no adjusting ingredients once baking starts.
You may or may not end up with a perfect result but have learned something about cooking with a totally new ingredient that you may not have considered before. This also works if you are curious about which herbs are used with a particular style of cooking. The bottom line is to use it as a food adventure right close to home. You cannot go wrong with that.