True inspiration comes from within, we’ve all been told at some point or another. The “within” probably didn’t refer to the confines of your studio apartment or toy-cluttered living room, but here we are. And for those of you who have waited for “the right time” to really learn how to cook, this is your inspiration. Restaurants around the country are being forced to close as communities attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which means more Americans are turning to their kitchens to feed themselves and their families.

If preparing good meals for the next few days or weeks is an intimidating proposition, we’re here to help. When we launched Voraciously two years ago, it was precisely this type of home cook that we had in mind. So if you’re ready to boost your skills in the kitchen, learn a few new techniques or just want to put something on your plate that didn’t go straight from a box in the freezer to the microwave, here’s where to begin:


(Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Starting simple

It’s incredibly satisfying to cook a delicious meal for yourself, but without basic kitchen skills, it can seem like a daunting task.

Our Zero to Dinner Party newsletter, written by cookbook author and food blogger Jennifer Farley, gives you the resources you need to prepare a delicious meal, one step at a time. Every Wednesday, you’ll learn an essential kitchen skill — including cutting an onion and roasting veggies — and get a recipe to help you practice. By week 12, even if you aren’t quite ready for visitors yet, you’ll have the makings for a multicourse menu and all the tools you need to confidently cook for yourself and others. Sign up here.

Here are a few helpful how-to guides to get you going:

How to chop, dice, mince, julienne, chiffonade and master common knife skills vocabulary

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Why food sticks to your pans, and what you can do about it

A better pot of rice is within reach with these 5 tips

4 tips that guarantee a better plate of pasta every time

How to leave those bottled dressings behind and make your own vinaigrette

How to use the broiler to fire up your home cooking

And these are a few of our favorite essential recipes for new cooks:

One-Pan Roast Chicken and Potatoes

Essential Mashed Potatoes

Seared, Slow-Roasted Steak

Fast Blender Tomato Soup With Cheese Crisps

Find more simple recipes here.


Brown Sugar and Chili-Rubbed Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

One-pan meals

There’s a reason all-in-one cookbooks are so popular, and minimizing cleanup is only part of the answer. Preparing a full meal in one pot or a single pan allows you to make a lot of food at once, which means there will often be leftovers for future meals. And with a single cooking vessel, you can typically minimize the hands-on time while your dish cooks. Whether you’re using a Dutch oven on the stovetop or a sheet pan in the oven, flavors will meld for a cohesive meal. When you’re done, there’s only one pan to clean.

These guides highlight two key components of many great one-pan/pot meals: your sheet pan and pasta.

Sheet-pan suppers are the easy and adaptable way to get dinner on the table fast

How to make a thrifty, fast and tasty one-pot pasta any day of the week

Recipes to get you started:

One-Pot Cajun Chicken and Rice

Skillet-Braised Spiced Potatoes and Chickpeas

Brown Sugar and Chili-Rubbed Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner

Tex-Mex Quinoa With …

Better Than Takeout Fried Rice

Easy Chickpea Curry

Check out our Dinner in Minutes recipes here.


Arroz con Pollo from the Meal Plan of Action newsletter series. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie Benwick/The Washington Post)

Meal planning

When we talk about meal planning, neatly arranged food storage containers stacked up for office and school lunches often come to mind. But no matter your routine (or lack thereof), a little menu planning can help us eat well without standing in front of the stove for long periods every day.

Sign up for our Meal Plan of Action newsletter, written by Post newsletter editor Tanya Sichynsky, and you’ll get a three-meal menu (with leftovers), a meal prep task that will set you up for the week and won’t take more than one hour of your time, a shopping list for the budget-conscious (a.k.a. all of us right now) and more. You’ll get a new Meal Plan of Action in your inbox every Thursday for 12 weeks. Sign up here.

These guides will help with your meal prepping plans:

How best to harness the power of garlic in your everyday cooking

6 ways to make kitchen prep work easier and tidier

Homemade broth is the key ingredient your bowl of soup deserves

How to take care of your cast-iron cookware and make it last forever

These are the kinds of recipes you’ll get with Meal Plan of Action:

Cuban-Style Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo)

Chicken Yakitori With Smashed Cucumber Salad


Grandmother’s Pound Cake from the Baking Basics newsletter series. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Baking basics

For many of us, baking can be a soothing, contemplative exercise with a delicious payoff at the end. We’ve published dozens of simple recipes for baking novices, along with a number of helpful guides to specific techniques and ingredients.

Start by signing up for our aptly titled Baking Basics newsletter, with self-taught baker turned professional, food photographer and cookbook author Joy “The Baker” Wilson. Every Friday for eight weeks, you’ll get detailed instruction, clever tips and a recipe for one of eight classic recipes, including Dutch oven bread, biscuits, pecan sticky rolls and pound cake. Sign up here.

Here are a few of our most essential baking guides for you to explore:

One-bowl baking: How to simplify your baking, and cleanup

Five tips to make you a better baker

How to choose the right flour for the right baking recipe

Don’t underestimate your hand mixer. Here’s how to put it to work for you.

Five essential pans to use for baking and so much more

How to swap baking pan sizes without ruining your recipe

These are the 4 types of sugar even the most casual baker should always have on hand

One-bowl baking recipes to get you started:

All-Purpose Muffins

Fudgy Flourless Brownies

Fast Focaccia

Proper British Shortbread

Find more one-bowl baking recipes here.


Chickpea, Chard and Porcini Soup. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Vegetables in focus

Many of us are trying to eat more vegetables these days — whether for health reasons, environmental concerns or simply because we can’t get enough of them. And sometimes, we need fresh ideas for what to do with those leafy greens or assorted squash and potatoes.

Our Plant Powered newsletter is designed to help you put more vegetables on your plate. Sonja and Alex Overhiser, cookbook authors and bloggers at the recipe website A Couple Cooks, cover the fundamentals of cooking with plants and smart ways to get the most out of your produce. Every Tuesday for 12 weeks you’ll receive two plant-based main-dish dinner recipes — one entirely plant-based (no animal products) and the other vegetarian (includes dairy and eggs), plus a budget-friendly shopping list and back pocket tips. Sign up here.

These guides answer a few common questions about cooking more plant-forward meals:

Tofu gets a bad rap sometimes. Here’s how to make it great.

Why are you still peeling all those vegetables?

Here are some veg-heavy recipes to get you started:

Chili Lime Black Bean Tacos

Harissa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ginger-Orange Broccoli and Noodles (pictured at the top of this story)

Grain Bowls With Sweet Potato and Edamame

Chickpea, Chard and Porcini Soup

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad With Crispy Broccoli

Find more plant-forward recipes from our Weeknight Vegetarian column here.

Video series

For the visual learners out there, Post food video host Mary Beth Albright has your back. In a five-part series called “Teach Dave to Cook,” she led colleague Dave Jorgenson on a journey through elementary cooking techniques that took a guy with a self-described “12-year old’s education in cooking” and transformed him into a confident home cook. Watch Episode 1 below.

Mary Beth has also started a “Quarantine Cooking Show” from her home kitchen to share simple, pantry-focused recipes during this time of self distancing. Check that out here.