It happens often these days; Dad preparing food as the at-home father while Mom turns the corporate world on its ear. For some this can be daunting.

Thankfully, some straightforward Daddy-Meal Tips for Beginners exist.

Recalling my own father’s shepherd’s pie — which seemed to incorporate BBQ potato chips on more than one occasion — or the frightening tomato-soup-instead-of-pasta-sauce idea I’ve encountered at other people’s houses, I know some meals can make even the sturdiest belly a little wobbly.

To be fair, a lot of Dads these days are pretty good cooks. At the very least, they can make use of the outdoor grill in any climate. And truth be told, my Dad’s pea-soup and French Toast nights were legendary, as was his homemade bread before Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday evening.

But for those of you who feel a little uncomfortable around the kitchen, here’s some culinary advice:

  1. Get a Cookbook – It’s a life-saver, and oddly enough makes you feel far more capable once you have it. I suggest Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which has quick, easy-to-make meals as well as some longer ones. Come to think of it, the Jamie Oliver website is a gold mine too.
  2. Plan Your Meals – I’m terrible at this and it gets me in trouble almost every week. You buy your groceries with maybe a few ideas in mind and by the end of the week you’re trying to combine pork-n-beans, a radish, and some leftover brown rice into something palatable. SOS Cuisine has a ton of helpful info regarding this.
  3. Proper Utensils – More important than you think, especially when you’re in the middle of something and you realize you don’t have what you need. Oddly enough, most kitchens are full of unnecessary junk these days. A good list of kitchen supplies can be found here.
  4. Start Where You’re Comfortable – You’re not going to poison anyone (hopefully). Keep it simple at first; protein, veggie, healthy carbs. Work a few spices into the mix, if needed. Try the easy recipes before the more elaborate ones.
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Try Something New – Sounds contrary to #4, I know. But once you’re in the zone, move past it. Try foods you normally wouldn’t consider. Encourage your kids to be excited about new things.
  6. Do the Prep Work Early, If Possible – Usually this means cutting up a bunch of veggies or measuring dry ingredients. But if you wait until the last minute, you’ll be scrambling and frustrated and the experience will such. Think ahead. Do the tedious work early enough to make the actual cooking enjoyable.
  7. Ask Mom (or Dad) if You’re Stuck – Seriously. I still call my Mom when I’m too lazy to look-up how long to roast a chicken for. Or when I cannot remember what the hell self-rising flour is. And they always have hard-earned tips. Not to mention you’ll make their day by asking for some advice. However…
  8. Never Claim Your Food is Better than Mom’s – Consider the validity of point #7. Now consider what it would be like of #7 was no longer available.
  9. Gauge Family Reactions – If your daughter starts “accidentally” dropping her food on the floor, make note. If your wife’s smile of pleasure is only a wrinkle away from a grimace, note it. They could be subtle hints — or a possible form of revenge down the road.
  10. Be Persistent – Some of your meals will taste like the hind quarters of some swamp creature. Some will not be popular. Some of them just might cause your family to go out for supper. But keep at it. They won’t all be this way…I hope.