Believe it or not, around 82% of the meals Americans eat are cooked at home.
We all love to be served a wonderful meal once in a while, but home cookin’ is usually more convenient and economical. And most of us would love to improve our cooking skills so we can be more adept and versatile in the kitchen.
What are some things you should know beyond the usual boiling and chopping?
Here are some of our favorite tips on cooking for beginners.
1. Opt For Fresh Ingredients
Your cooking will only be as fresh and healthy as your ingredients are. If you want everyone to be wowed by flavor, get some fresh herbs and veggies you grow outside or in your window garden.
If you really don’t have the time or skill to grow your own, make sure you find a store with affordable groceries and check them out before you purchase. Is anything bruised, brown, or wilting? Move along and choose only the best.
Get advice from other folks in your community about where to find the freshest seafood and meat. We all have days when we pop a frozen pizza in the oven because we get home from work late. But the finest home chefs use fresh ingredients as often as possible.
2. Pick The Right Pan
You wouldn’t expect to get a great workout on an old treadmill, and you won’t be able to cook well in old cookware either. New pots and pans are easy to wash and use, and can help you cook up your favorite dishes with less oil.
Cast iron is a popular choice because it cleans well and provides a chemical-free alternative for non-stick pans. It’s also tough and keeps food warm for a good amount of time. Here are some cast iron tips you’ve got to know about.
3. Go Beyond the Recipe
All beginner chefs start out with the cookbook or laptop open on the counter, carefully measuring ingredients. The best food recipes for your home, however, may require a bit of experimenting.
Does your family like extra tortellini in their soup or more spice on their steak? Go ahead and tweak the ingredients and cook times to produce a result that will keep everybody happy.
While some cooking activities, like baking, require some precision, cooking can take some creativity. Many amateur home chefs share their “subbing” and “dressing up” ideas online with other foodies, giving recipes a little more flexibility and a wider audience.
4. Clean As You Go
Nothing will put a damper on a perfectly prepared meal like a sinkful of dishes waiting for you after you eat. If you want to be a happy chef, make good use of the downtime while you’re waiting for things to bake, saute, or boil.
Clean your pots, pans, and utensils as you go along, continuing to wipe down appliances or counters after spills. That way you’ll only have to do a little sweeping when the meal is over.
5. Use a Paper Towel On Your Cutting Board
Cutting boards keep you from slicing into your countertop when you’re dicing, chopping, and mincing. Most recipes require at least a bit of these action words.
Certain foods, like peppers, strawberries, and carrots, have a bright color and can really get into the crevices of your cutting board. Placing a paper towel over it will save you a lot of time cleaning up later on.
6. Prepare In Advance
As basic as it may seem, a little preparation can save you a lot of time and trouble. Read through your recipe before you make it the first time. Hours of marinating or dough rising could be in your future, and you don’t want to have to make alternate plans for dinner.
Those home cooks with busy lives may also find that it helps to chop onions or mince garlic beforehand. When you get home from work, you’ll only need to throw everything together.
7. Turn Your Handles Inside
This one is especially important if you’ve got little eaters in your kitchen. Yet even adults can bump into a panhandle that’s sticking out and cause a dangerous overflow of boiling something.
Do everyone a favor and turn your handles to the inside of the stove while it’s on or while things are hot.
8. Have A Few Staple Recipes
If you don’t do “big shops” regularly, you probably order take-out some nights and cook on others depending upon your schedule and mood. This is a particularly popular lifestyle among young professionals and retirees.
If that’s the case, make sure you’ve got a few recipes whose ingredients you know by heart. Do you have a pasta-and-chicken casserole that always does the trick? How about your pan-seared fish and rice? Once you’ve made it a few times, you should know exactly what to pick up when you head to the market.
9. Practice Makes Perfect
Everyone makes a bit of a mess the first time they try to cook something new. Or you may discover that you want to adjust the spices or add ingredients.
Give yourself a lot of grace. All new chefs burn and undertook things. In time, you’ll have some dishes everyone in your home will be looking forward to.
Cooking Skills For Beginners
If you’re looking to hone your cooking skills, you’ll need to get some tips from those who have been there. Once you get into a groove, you could be a fantastic home chef in no time.
Don’t stop getting smart about your lifestyle now. For more great tips, read our blog today.