Episode 75: Being a Cookbook Writer: Habits of a Cooking or Baking

Episode 75: Being a Cookbook Writer: Habits of a Cooking or Baking

One of the foundational things I teach to students inside the Cookbook Writers Academy is the concept of Being a Cookbook Writer. What this means is that we have to think, feel, and act like a cookbook author even before we have a publishing contract.

One part of “being a cookbook writer” (some who gets their cookbook published) is your willingness to learn new things. We talked about that in a previous issue of FPS. 

Today, let’s talk about habits, specifically our habits of cooking, writing and using our kitchens as a laboratory for our projects. Your daily habits as a cook, baker, and writer drive your cookbook project. If you don’t cook, bake, or write, you project stalls. If you cook, bake, and write your project moves forward. It’s time to think about your habits and how they affect your project. 

Here’s the best news: We can build or create new habits as cooks, bakers, and writers. We can decide to create recipes and write content for our cookbook projects. Or we don’t. The choice is up to us.

Part of my secret to success as a published cookbook author is that I use my kitchen-time as my laboratories where I  can develop cookbook concept ideas, recipes, and stories.  

Evaluate Current Cooking or Baking Habits:  For the next week, write down everything you do in your kitchen. Describe what you consistently do every day in your kitchen. Make a pot of coffee, write it down. Make sandwiches for the kid’s lunches, write it down. Scramble an egg. Make a smoothie. Fire up the Instant Pot. Write it all down.

Decide to Create New Habits of Build On What You Already Do: After a week, be honest with yourself. If you want to write a cookbook, do your habits as a cook, support the work you’ll need to do to cook and create recipes? If yes, great! If no, there’s room for creating some habits. 

Set Up a Cooking Notebook:  I record everything in a notebook. For 2020 I started a new notebook. 

Evaluate What You Have: The first thing I do in a new notebook is to write down everything I have in my pantry or freezer that I want to use as a main course for a meal — meat in the freezer, eggs or tofu in the refrigerator, pasta or beans in the pantry.  

Pick a Consistent Day to Plan: I do this on Wednesday, but you can pick the day that works best for you.

Plan Your Next Week: Plan your next week ahead of time. The purpose of this plan is to know what you will be cooking or baking on any given day when you head into your kitchen you know the menu and you have the ingredients on hand to cook or bake. The truth is if this is what we are asking our cookbook readers to do, so there’s no better way to communicate your message to readers that to live what you want to teach before you write it.

Check the Calendar:  Next, I look at the calendar and the week ahead. What is going on in the evenings? Do we have to work late, teach a class, attend a basketball game or outside meeting? Evening activities affect what I cook, so I always consider that. 

Plan an Entree to Cook Each Day: Next, I write down what we are going to eat each day. Every week I plan one meal that uses meat (chicken, beef, poultry, or lamb), one fish/seafood, one legume/bean, one pasta, one soup/stew, one pizza, and one new recipe.  Then referring to the list of ingredients I have on hand, I plug in any main entree items on hand and then fill the plan with ideas for the other days. 

Make a Grocery List: While I’m planning, I also make my grocery list on this day. (I have a grocery list I typed up and it’s available at www. Essentialpantry.net. if you’re interested.) Each week we buy fresh fish or seafood, make a new kind of pizza, and enjoy an original recipe, so I know that I need to buy ingredients for those meals. I use up with I have on hand for the meat, bean, pasta, soup/stew meals and add to the grocery list additional fresh ingredients that are needed. I also fill in with items we need for side vegetables, salads, breakfasts, lunches, Sunday breakfast, etc. 

Shop For Ingredients: I shop on Thursday or Friday morning, but you need to pick a time that works for you. The secret here is consistency. When I consistently shop and have ingredients on hand, it’s easier to cook and bake at home. I teach this in my cookbooks too.

Cook or Bake Each Day: When it’s time to cook, I go to my kitchen and work the plan. Each morning I set out ingredients I’ll need for dinner and then at 5:00, I don’t have to decide what to cook or make any last-minute trips to the supermarket. 

Take Notes While You Cook/Bake: While I’m cooking I take notes about recipes I create, ingredients I run out of in my pantry, or notes about package sizes, labels, and volume of cut vegetables, pasta, and cooked grains.  

I hope this helps you on your journey to develop the habit of cooking or writing on your way to becoming a cookbook author.

Listen to Episode 75 below:

Things We Mention In This Episode:

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Let’s Keep The Conversation Going…

Do you have an idea for a cookbook concept?

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