Jen Perry is a former Lymm High student and runs the mobile afternoon tea company Room Forty as well as hosting baking classes throughout Warrington

I’M sure that all of us have at one time invested in a food gadget of some kind – a spiralizer, a blender, a food processor, slow cooker or ice cream maker – which sit in a cupboard gathering dust.

But how many of us can cook the basics well? Poach the perfect egg, bake a loaf, make faultless pastry, make a mayonnaise?

I have decided to go on a mission to encourage anyone and everyone to have a go in the kitchen, and I’ve begun by offering to teach classes with Warrington Wolves Foundation and Teardrops, the St Helens homeless charity. Why? Because I really believe that learning and mastering a few basics will equip you with skills that you can develop and grow, and it is so much cheaper and healthier to cook from scratch.

As your skills and confidence grow you’ll start to be able to cook through instinct by just looking in the fridge and grab some ingredients.

We’ll likely begin with bread and soup. After all, what can sustain you better for a day in the cold? And for just £1 you can feed the whole family healthily – if you know what to do.

Once you can make a basic white sauce (a roux) for instance, you can flavour it. Whack in some cheese and perhaps a dab of mustard and voila, you’ve created the ultimate sauce for a Macaroni Cheese, another great filler which I generally add cauliflower to sneak in one of the five a day.

Once you’ve learned to master how to bake a basic loaf (and we’ll gladly teach you at one of our classes) you will soon have the confidence to experiment with brioche or even sourdough. I don’t claim to be a perfect cook or baker, far from it, but I love learning, which makes food such an exciting hobby (and my hobby is now my job). Many of the best lessons are learned through making mistakes. So here are my tips.

Arm yourself with a good cookbook

The charity shops are a great source. Look for ones with clear instructions.

BBC books, Good Housekeeping, WI and Bake Off books are all excellent and the recipes are tested and dependable.

And let’s not forget Delia Smith, 10 years ago she launched her How to Cook series of books which extolled this very same message. A word of caution – in my experience its best to avoid celebrity cook books by actors, DJs, pop stars and the like. Stick to the professionals.

Practice the basics

Start with things like egg boiling and poaching and build up. In time, with practice, you’ll not need to refer to the recipe. Make mistakes and don’t beat yourself up. Just work out what went wrong. Tweak recipes to suit your palate; add a bit more of this and a little less of that to make it your own classic.

Taste as you cook

Trust your senses. Allow your palate to guide you. Also trust your sense of smell. If it smells good it probably will taste good too. If it smells burnt it probably is! Make notes in your cook book or you will forget what you did. Trust me. Alter the recipe to suit you.

Think about a class

My little business Room Forty runs baking classes. We pride ourselves on taking the fear out of baking, particularly bread and love giving our students confidence.

Have a quick search on the internet – there are cookery classes being run all over the area. Have a look at our college in Warrington, or perhaps travel a little further afield to St Helens College which runs a great series of evening classes. Above all, don’t be afraid to have a go. Don’t stress, just have fun.