Some people have a natural talent when it comes to cooking and baking while others have to struggle a little bit to get it right. However, anybody can master the art of cooking if they really want to. Whether you want to switch from eating out all the time to cooking occasionally, learning to prepare a special meal for someone you love or becoming a person who eats mostly homemade meals, we have 19 cooking tips and tricks that will make cooking and baking easier and more enjoyable.
1. Do not try new recipes when you are hungry.
If you are a beginner, it is best not to cook when you are hungry since you will be tempted to skip some steps of the recipe and the result might be disastrous. Tried and tested recipes and preferably fast ones are always the way to go if you are hungry.
2. Don’t quit when you fail.
Throwing food away is not fun but everybody fails from time to time. Even experts have bad experiences in the kitchen so do not give up just because a recipe did not turn out the way you expected.
3. Make sure you have the essential tools and appliances.
Don’t invest in fancy gadgets if you are a beginner but make sure your kitchen is equipped with a good stove, a good oven and you have other essential utensils that any cook needs, such as a good pan, a great knife, a mixer, a frying pan, spatulas and others.
4. Do not improvise!
If you do not cook on a regular basis and you do not know the basics yet, do not improvise. Find recipes with detailed instructions and follow them carefully. Make sure you choose recipes with ingredients you like before you get better at cooking and you know what ingredients make great substitutes.
5. Taste the food.
Even though improvising is not a good idea, you might like your food to be spicier than usual so you can add more spices if you want as long as you add tiny quantities and you taste the food along the way.
6. Be really good at something.
A great tip for beginners is to find two or three recipes for each meal of the day or for meals they plan to prepare at home and to make them at least 2 times per week until they really know they can make those recipes without problems. These can be your go to recipes for when you have guests.
7. Don’t try new recipes if you have guests.
You know it is never a good idea to try a different hair cut before a major event? Well, same thing goes for new recipes when you have guests. Go for the recipes you master or order food if you plan a fancy gathering.
8. Buy fresh vegetables
Fresh vegetables are tastier than frozen veggies so make sure you stock your fridge regularly.
9. Create a menu.
You might be tempted to buy too much if you do not know what you want to cook so the best way to avoid this problem is to create a menu with the recipes you want to try throughout the week and to buy only those ingredients.
10. Read recipes ahead of time and prepare the ingredients before starting to cook.
Reading the recipe before cooking is common sense but while doing that make sure you measure all the ingredients and you slice, cut, mince everything before you start cooking. If a recipe requires minced garlic, it will make the process easier if you have the garlic minced prior to starting cooking. Experienced cooks move faster in the kitchen and they can master reading the recipe, preparing ingredients and taking care of something that cooks on the stove at the same time. Multitasking in the kitchen can lead to disasters for beginners so it is best to be prepared in advance.
11. Don’t leave the kitchen until the food is ready.
Unless you cook a slow cooker recipe, it is best to stay in the kitchen even for recipes that require 1 hour cooking time or more. During this time you can clean the kitchen and wash the dishes you used for preparing the recipe and you will also be able to check on your meal when it is in the oven or on the stove to make sure it won’t be overcooked. Not all stoves and ovens have the same settings so until you are very familiar with yours it is best to follow this simple rule.
12. Choose common ingredients
If you are just starting your cooking journey, choose common ingredients instead of exotic ones. The idea is to manage cooking a tasty meal not to impress someone or at least, not yet.
13. Don’t add all the spices and seasonings at once.
You can add more spices and seasonings if you need more but if you add them all at once you cannot remove them from food so be careful especially with salt and pepper.
14. Casseroles are a good idea.
If you do not have a lot of time during week days, you can cook and bake during the weekend and keep the casseroles in the freezer until you need them. Some dishes should be freezed fully cooked while others should be freezed before cooking or baking them. If you use food blogs for inspiration, you can ask the blogger if a dish can be stored in the freezer if there is no mention about this in the article.
15. Stick to one cooking medium until you manage it.
The best way to become an expert in a cooking style is to practice, practice and then practice some more. Try as many oven recipes if the oven is the first medium you used for cooking. Once you feel you are ready to move to a new style of recipes, use the stove, the slow cooker and so on.
16. Be patient!
Most dishes require some cooling down time before you can slice them. This simple trick applies to both baked and cooked meals so make sure you respect the instructions provided in the recipe.
17. Use proper measuring tools
Some recipe developers use grams others use cups or pounds when they list the ingredients so be sure you have the correct tools for measuring ingredients or you can use an online convertor to go between cups, ounces, grams and so on.
18. Make sure the temperature is right.
Since there are various types of ovens and stoves on the market, you have to pay attention to the settings to be sure the temperature for your food is right. Also, be careful at the temperature scale used in the recipe and use a convertor to find the right temperature. There is a huge difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit and not being sure what temperature scale the recipe developer used can really affect your cooking.
19. Don’t improvise with baking!
Once you started to be more comfortable in the kitchen, you can improvise with some recipes. Add more ingredients, replace some ingredients, change spices and so on but when it comes to baking things are more complicated. You can switch hazelnuts for walnuts for example but using baking soda instead of baking powder is not necessarily a good idea.