Electric stoves are the worst, and other lessons

My first meal: Clam bake with mussels, sausage, shrimp and potatoes. I had no idea what I was in for.

On April 27, 2014, I turned 29 years old. Like in years past, I took my birthday as an opportunity to a. freak out about what I’m doing with my life, and b. challenge myself with a goal to complete within the year (in hopes that completing said goal would make me feel better about what I’m doing with my life).

I needed to challenge myself to something significant — I was in the last year of my 20s, after all. So I decided to tackle something I’m no good at, something which most successful adults seem to be capable of: I was going to learn how to cook.

My final creation: Chocolate mousse.
My final creation: Chocolate mousse.

I am decidedly not the chef in our household. My husband Jamie not only enjoys cooking, but he’s really good at it. Me? Not so much. Cooking was the last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work. Simply the thought of making a meal would stress me out.

But that was a 20-something attitude. I figured cooking was something I could teach myself to love. And so, #30mealsbefore30 was born. I challenged myself to cook and document 30 unique homemade meals before my 30th birthday.

I ended the challenge on April 26, 2015 — one day before I became an official Adult — with a nutritionally unbalanced but delicious final meal.

Here’s what I learned along the way:

You can never plan for the future, no matter how much you try.

Meal 19: Caesar salad.
Meal 19: Caesar salad.

When I set out to do the 30 meals challenge, I determined I’d have to cook one meal every other week or so to stay on track for the year.

For the first 15 meals, I was right on schedule. I even cooked a Thanksgiving turkey! (Verdict: A very involved and gross process; would probably not do again.)

And then, life changed. On somewhat of a whim, I applied for and — after several rounds of interviews — landed a new job that required moving from Atlanta to St. Petersburg, Florida (more on that here). Between weeks of packing up our Atlanta house, spending more than a month in a hotel room with a tiny kitchenette, and eventually moving into our St. Pete house, the 30 meals project was thrown way off track.

If I’d known that I would leave my job and move to a new state before turning 30, I never would have committed to a year-long cooking project. But alas. Once we moved into our new place, I finally restarted the project, far behind schedule.

This article was originally written by Katie Hawkins-Gaar and appeared on Medium on May 3, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.

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