Rachael Ray Is Begging You To Learn To Cook - Exclusive

It likely comes as no surprise that Rachael Ray, a celebrity chef known for her quick, convenient meals, the author of more than two dozen cookbooks, and the host of multiple cooking shows, would want you to learn how to cook. It's what her whole business and brand are about: getting people into the kitchen and showing them that cooking doesn't need to be intimidating or difficult. However, for Ray, teaching people to cook is a bit more personal than just business.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Rachael Ray told us how her grandfather inspired her to take on learning crucial cooking skills, as well as the personal satisfaction one can find in cooking. She said, "The way my grandfather raised me, it behooves everyone, no matter what age you are or what you do for a living, to learn some very basic and smart skills in the kitchen, and ultimately to be able to break down a chicken or make a stock, chop your own vegetables, blanch things, freeze things. It's a much more budget-friendly way to live long-term, to know how to process your own food."

She added, "When you make your own food, you can have a sense of self. Whether it comes out great or not so great, you'll have a chuckle at it, and it always means more than if you order takeout. ... It's a basic skill in life to be able to provide food for yourself. The more you learn about food, the more you'll be able to live on any budget, and the more secure you'll feel and the happier you'll be. I truly believe that."

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Even though Rachael Ray believes cooking is a basic skill that can benefit both your wallet and your sense of self, she also understands that cooking doesn't always come easily. She said, "For people that are not into cooking at all — and I know many of them, which is weird, because some of them are good friends and I'm like, 'Wow, I didn't get you in all these years; you still hate it' — it's daunting. For other people, they feel that they don't have the time, no matter how many times I try and convince them otherwise. Even for people like empty nesters that had big families, they don't know how to scale back to two people or a person. They don't know how to cook less or change their style."

This realization, in part, inspired Ray to team up with Home Chef to offer a series of meal kits that include Ray's own recipes and all the pre-portioned ingredients needed. The meal kits, which can be ordered online or found in Kroger stores, also cut down on food waste by providing only the ingredient quantities needed for each recipe, for the number of people you're serving — and they might just convert some hesitant home cooks into lifelong foodies.

"[Meal kits] are a very useful tool for a whole bunch of folks, and it may get them excited enough to take more interest or more charge of their everyday lives," said Ray. "It's fun to cook. It's fun to be in the kitchen. Anything that gets you excited about that or makes it easier for you, I'm all for it. Go for it."

Home Chef's Rachael Ray meals are available to order online at homechef.com/rachael or to pick up at more than 1,300 Kroger-family stores, now through mid-March.