Having decent cooking skills is no longer the prerogative of stay-at-home moms – nowadays everyone who wants to eat healthy and diverse foods needs to have basic skills in cooking. However, not everyone is born with a cooking talent and the ability to know which products to use and how to prepare them. But don’t worry – with a bit of passion and with our helpful tips you will up your cooking game and become a skilled cook in no time.
1. Sharpen your knives
Contrary to a popular belief, you don’t need a dozen of knives to rule in the kitchen. At first you can do almost everything just with the help of a chef’s knife, but there is one very important rule – your knife or knives should be as sharp as possible. Only when your knives are super sharp, you can perform the most delicate cutting, slicing and chopping jobs. Get a special knife sharpener and use it whenever needed.
2. Step out of your comfort zone
Every cook in the world is used to cooking within his national cuisine and the recipes they know since they were children. And although you can be a very good cook in one cuisine, your abilities can be limited when it comes to unusual ingredients and techniques. If you don’t want new recipes, flavours and cooking methods to intimidate you, make it your rule to occasionally cook with new products and try cuisines you’ve never tried before.
3. Don’t waste food
One of the qualities that separate professional chefs from amateurs is that they never buy more food than they can cook. If you often have leftover products that eventually go bad and are thrown out, revise your buying strategy. Additionally, when you cook meat or vegetables, try to use the whole piece – for example, if you bought vegetables with greens, use the greens in a salad or add them to a stew.
4. Use healthier cooking techniques
Frying, boiling, and deep-frying are very popular cooking methods, but they are notoriously bad for preserving nutrients in food, especially vegetables. If you want your food to keep as many vitamins and minerals as possible, try to use baking and steaming more. By steaming or baking your foods, you will get the same amazing taste while not wasting any nutrients away.
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5. Lower your salt and sugar use
Sugar and salt are both known to be very harmful for our health, and the worst thing is that a lot of store-bought products are filled with sugar and salt, which a lot of customers have no idea about. Store-bought sausages, sauces, sweets, snacks, frozen foods often have very high salt and sugar contents, so if you buy a lot of these products, try to cut back on salt and sugar use in your home cooking.
6. Put labels on your ingredients
A lot of foods can be stored for a long time if they’re unopened, but once they’re opened, they have a limited pantry life. For this reason labelling your products will help you keep track of when a certain ingredient needs to be used faster or thrown out. This is especially true for spices: although they can be stored for a very long time, after a year spices and herbs start gradually losing their flavour and taste, which can have a negative effect on your cooking.
7. Use the right tools
Some home cooks tend to think that the more kitchen equipment they buy, the better they will be able to cook. However, the key to becoming a home chef is not to buy lots of tools, but to use them the right way. There are so many expensive appliances that you will use only once or twice a month that wasting money on equipment is a real problem for many cooks. So, before you buy another costly tool, figure out if you really need it, or you can use one of your old tools instead.
8. Don’t leave the food unattended
While some dishes can be slowly cooked for hours and will only become better from it, certain products require a very strict cooking time. You’ve probably already had trouble with overboiled pasta, overcooked meat and burnt cake or cookies. This is why one of your main kitchen rules should be to always keep an eye on the foods that have a definitive cooking time. However, with foods like stews you can cook them for as long as you like.