Cooking is a much-loved hobby for so many people, including me. I spend countless hours in the kitchen, cooking dinners, trying difficult gourmet techniques, and whipping up a delicious breakfast on the weekends. It’s something we love to do, and a skill we’ve greatly improved over the years.
Cooking is something that you can learn to do well, even if you currently know nothing. Knowing how to cook will serve you well for your entire life and bring great enjoyment to your family and your stomachs!
Below you’ll find our 15 favorite tips for making cooking just a little bit easier, so you will enjoy it even more, and stop thinking of it as a task that has to be done, but as something you want to and love to do. By following these tips, you will soon become a pro in the kitchen.
- If you don’t have all of the ingredients for a particular recipe, it is fine to alter it to the ingredients you do have. Cooking is creative – don’t be afraid to improvise. Add your own special twist to a recipe to make it your own. That’s how some of the best recipes were made. The only time you really can’t get away with substituting ingredients is when baking, as it requires more specific measurements and ingredients.
- When cooking things on a baking sheet in the oven, use parchment paper or tin foil to cover the sheet. The foods will be easier to remove from the pan, and you won’t have as much messy cleanup to do when you’re done.
- Keep your recipes in digital format so you can pull them up on a tablet while you’re cooking. It’s much easier to store recipes this way, and you can make notes right on the tablet if you decide to make changes to a recipe (believe me, next time you make it, you won’t remember what you did to make it so good).
- Getting ready to grill some kebabs on the barbecue? Always soak your wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before using. If you don’t soak them, they may catch fire or burn and fall apart when subjected to the flame.
- We love garlic in our kitchen and use a lot of it, but it can leave a pungent smell on your hands for days. After handling garlic, be sure to immediately wash your hands with soap, which should take away most of the smell. If it still lingers, try rubbing your fingers on a stainless steel, like a sink or a pan, then wash them again. Stainless steel helps remove the odor from your hands.
- One of the most important tools to have in the kitchen is a sharp kitchen knife. If you don’t already have one, purchasing a good chef’s knife is the right way to set yourself up for success as a home cook.
- If you regularly cook for a family, create a week-long dinner menu (add 7 dinner ideas, if you eat at home each night). Create 5 of these menus and then swap them out each week so you use a different menu each week. The work you put into making the 5 lists can last a whole year, and you’d only repeat the same meal a maximum of 10 times. If you have time, you can create a grocery list for those 7 meals as well, which will save even more time.
- Spend one Sunday a month making a large batch of something and freezing it in small batches for weeknight meals. Casseroles and stews are great for this. You can also make a big pot of carnitas or beef barbacoa in the slow cooker and use it as the protein in various recipes throughout the week.
- Put a small piece of bread in your bag or container of brown sugar to keep it soft. It will last forever, and you won’t have to fight the sugar whenever you need it for baking.
- If you have a lot of fresh or leftover herbs, like cilantro and basil, don’t let them go to waste. Cut them up into small pieces and add them to olive oil in an ice cube tray. When you need those herbs, you can just grab a cube from the ice box. Another way to use up lots of basil is to make pesto, which can also be frozen.
- When you grilling or fry fish, it has a tendency to stick to the pan, even if you’ve oiled it beforehand. Keep it from sticking and breaking by cooking it on top of a couple slices of lemon instead. Not only will the fish not stick to the lemon, it will be enhanced by a lovely citrusy flavor.
- You can thicken watery soups and sauces with a little bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water. While the sauce is simmering, add a bit of the cornstarch mixture and whisk it into the sauce. Wait to see if it thickens enough before adding more.
- Don’t want your house to smell like bacon all day after you’ve cooked that delicious breakfast? Cook the bacon in the oven instead of in a pan on the stove top. Not only will the smell be kept to a minimum, the bacon will be more evenly browned.
- When roasting meat in the oven, it’s incredibly easy to overcook it, leading to dry and bland-tasting meat that no one enjoys. Keep on top of the temperature by using a digital food probe thermometer. Always take the meat out of the oven 5-10 degrees under what you want, as it will continue to cook for a few minutes outside the oven. Allow it 5-10 minutes to rest before cutting into it.
- If you don’t own a knife sharpener, and/or don’t know how to use it properly, you should get your knives professionally sharpened at least once a year. Sharp knives are very important for safety in the kitchen, and you don’t want to ruin good knives by trying to do it yourself.
I’m sure these tips will come in handy as you acquire new skills in the kitchen. Cooking can be very rewarding and is well worth the effort. Putting these tips into action will help you become a better and more efficient cook.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.