It’s hard to think of a time when food wasn’t one of the most important parts of my life. I grew up sitting in kitchens, watching various family members prepare incredible dishes and baked goods. I loved getting to sit in the corner, eating chocolate chips or carrots until I was old enough to actually lend more of a helping hand.

I had hoped that my being surrounded by food growing up would ease my transition into cooking for myself in university, but I was wrong. First and second year presented a variety of challenges, from a range of disordered eating habits to maneuvering the logistics of sharing a kitchen with five other people. I was afraid of cooking meat, could not cobble dinner together in a way that worked for my schedule, and generally needed to work on my eating habits.
By third year, I had moved out of student housing and began to spend more time in the kitchen.Over this time, something changed; I started to get more excited about cooking for myself, and I began to experiment more with my meals and kitchen tools. Cooking and baking became instrumental parts of my recovery and standing over the stove or measuring flour or kneading bread dough grew into one of my primary anxiety management strategies.
Cooking allowed me to overcome my hesitation to host people for an evening, and in the past year I’ve hosted a variety of dinner parties, potlucks, and even a Mardi Gras pancake dinner.

Last spring, I decided I wanted to share my love of cooking and baking with more people. My friends and colleagues had been gracious (and if I may, sometimes very lucky) guinea pigs with new recipes I was trying, but I wanted to show more people that taking care of yourself through food doesn’t have to be as terrifying as it sounds, even on a tight budget. After spending some time scrolling through a range of Instagram’s food bloggers, I noticed that there seemed to be no accounts dedicated to cooking and meal prepping on a student budget. And so, armed with a spatula and an unairconditioned kitchen, I started Fork in Progress.

I wanted to find an outlet to show busy students and young professionals that cheap, easy, delicious food isn’t as impossible a dream as it can seem at times, and that even a more difficult recipe can usually be broken down into more manageable steps. Over the past eight months I’ve experimented with demonstrations of how to prepare simple dinners like cauliflower wings and beef stew, and shown how to break down difficult cake recipes into multi-day processes with just a few small tasks each day. I’ve learned new skills, perfected a few go-to recipes, and had a lot of fun whipping up new dinners, desserts, and easily transportable lunches.

I want to inspire people so they feel empowered and capable of trying new foods, and I hope that through Fork in Progress, people feel as through they have a resource to make cooking fun, easy, and accessible. Feeding yourself doesn’t have to be a as much of a chore as we’re often led to believe. And with a little willingness to experiment a bit, you can make a dish you can be truly proud of. And trust me, there is no better feeling in the world than being able to say that yes, you made dinner and dessert.

There’s no world in which learning to cook completely erases someone’s struggle to balance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and I’d be lying if I said that spending time in my kitchen alone was enough to keep me feeling good consistently. But it has helped, and I hope that it can help you too.

Follow @forkinprogress on Instragram to learn how to cook tasty meals on a budget!

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