7 fresh ideas to make cooking easy and fun

Cooking is so much more than what ends up on your plate. From recipe planning to pantry organization and grocery shopping to sharing virtual meals with others both near and far, we can help. If spending more time at home has led to more time in the kitchen, check out these resources and tips for using Microsoft products to help you make the most of your efforts with the least amount of stress.

Photo credit: blackCAT/E+/Getty Images. Smiling man and woman look at recipe on Windows laptop while cooking together in kitchen

1. Learn the basics.

If you want to learn to cook, but the most complicated recipe you've ever attempted is macaroni and cheese from a box, you can find plenty of resources online to help you master the basics or to take your skills to the next level. Try a Bing search for instructional videos like how to poach an egg, how to cook the perfect steak, or even how to sharpen your kitchen knife skills.

Cookbook cover with bowl of prepared food

Bowls might be the perfect food right now

Maybe you have a bunch of random ingredients, but nothing seems to make a meal; or plenty of leftovers, but not enough of one thing to serve everyone. Get free tips from eatmovelive52 on how to make bowls that are simple and healthy while still being delicious.

2. Figure out what to make.

Sometimes, the hardest part of cooking is figuring out what to cook. If you want a recipe to guide you, let Bing help you out. Start out with a very basic search like "recipe ideas" or try some searches using ingredients you want to use, such as:

Search term typed into search box

Search from your desktop

You can quickly search without switching away from whatever you're working on, and without getting distracted by other things on the web.

Do you have a handful of ingredients on hand and don't know what to do with them? Text a list of ingredients to Samsung's Cook Magic recipe bot and it'll respond with recipe links using those ingredients.

3. Organize your meal planning.

Years ago, if you wanted to look for a recipe, you pulled out a cookbook. Now, you can find almost any recipe you want online. But rather than opening a dozen tabs in your browser or trying to copy and paste links from Edge into Word or even Notepad, try making a recipe collection in Microsoft Edge.

Recipe collection organized in Microsoft Edge browser

Visualize all your recipes in one place

Group two or more website links under one logical name and access the collection from Microsoft Edge on your computer or your mobile phone. Organize links to recipes separated by cuisine, meal, occasion, or ingredient, and even add personal notes for ingredient swaps you make or things you would do differently next time.

4. Plan your shopping trips.

If you're finding it harder to get to the store, you'll want to make sure you remember everything when you do go shopping. OneNote notebooks are great for keeping track of your grocery lists, favorite items from specialty stores, weekly staples, or just today's list of what you need for a specific meal. Add items to your list in OneNote with checkboxes, so as you're cruising the aisles of your store, you can mark off what's in your cart.

You can also share your notebook with others so if one person runs to the store, others in your household can add new items to the list as they shop, because OneNote notebooks are always in sync (as long as you have an internet connection).

5. Exchange recipes with friends and family.

Food is more than a way to sustain our bodies. Recipes and traditions are passed down through families and among friends. Now is a great time to create a OneNote notebook, share it with family members or friends, and encourage them to write down all of those recipes that they know so well. Whether it's the sweet potato casserole you had as a child or that new chocolate chip cookie recipe you found last week, OneNote can help ensure your most meaningful recipes are always preserved.

You can also pass on your culinary creations when you create a cookbook or a series of recipe cards using our free Word templates and gift them to friends and family members who love your cooking.

6. Get creative and grow your skills.

Rather than starting from a recipe, start with your favorite sauce. Then mix-and-match to create different meals based on which protein, vegetable, fruit, and extras you have on hand. Jarred pasta, sauce, salsa, and condiments are inexpensive and can be used whenever you're ready for them. Cooking creatively can reduce stress, and you can find some tips to get started here.

Handwritten ingredients for cooking salsa and pasta sauce

7. Share a meal—virtually.

Do you long for big dinners with family or friends? Why not have a virtual dinner party? You can use OneNote to keep a list of the recipes you want to make and share that with your virtual guests so they can cook along in their own homes.

Send out invitations to your dinner party that include a Skype link, and when it comes time to dine, start Skype, turn on your video camera, and share a meal with those you can't join in person.

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