Cooking at home is one of the best ways to save money and ensure a healthy diet. However, it’s not as easy as it seems.
Everyone can boil water for pasta and toast bread, but crafting delicious meals from scratch takes a particular set of skills. Don’t fret, though. Most people aren’t naturally gifted cooks. They learn through trial and error and are here to help you avoid the error part.
Here are some of the best tips Reddit has for aspiring home chefs.
Preparation is Key
You need to prepare before you start cooking anything. This vital step can reduce the stress of cooking and ensure you don’t miss something important.
“I PRE-CUT everything. Prepare it. Have everything in little prep bowls. Do everything time I possibly can. Anything that might be even semi-time-consuming before I even turn the heat on” shared one user.
Cut, chop, and prep your veggies before starting the frying pan. Take out all the necessary supplies, from mixing bowls to knives. Get your butter melted.
Taking time to plan your process before you start cooking will save you headaches in the kitchen.
Taste Your Food
Following a recipe to a tee is great, but everyone has different palates. Tasting your food as you go will ensure it is perfectly spiced to meet your needs and allows you to fix problems while it’s still cooking.
“Taste. Your. Food” demanded one user. “Don’t be like me, the idiot who used precise measuring spoons for his first two years in the kitchen. Add a little bit of salt/spice. Taste it. If it’s a bit under-seasoned, add some more. Doing this is how you build up intuition in kitchen, and it’s how you learn how season things intuitively,” they explained.
Another likened not tasting your food while cooking to playing music with earplugs and painting with a blindfold.
Cooking is an art for your tastebuds, so use them to ensure everything is correct.
Too many people turn the burner all the way up and then wonder why their food is burned. Users agreed that high heat should only be used for quickly searing meat; in most cases, the medium setting is your best friend.
“In college, I had a friend ask how I made grilled cheese both melty and without burning,” shared one user. “He was just putting it on high and sticking the sandwich on the pan.”
Know When To Follow a Recipe
One user explained that recipes are vital when baking but more of guidelines when it comes to cooking. Others agreed, adding that baking is more of a science, while stovetop cooking can be considered an art.
Beginners should follow the recipe to a tee when baking. However, after you become more experienced in the kitchen and learn the science behind baking, you should experiment a little and see where it takes you.
“Baking is all about understanding the rules, so you know how to carefully break them,” explained one user.
Read the Recipe
Recipes are your best friend when you first start cooking. Read it, understand it, and read it again!
It’s far too easy to skip a crucial step when trying a new recipe. It’s essential to follow the instructions exactly as indicated, especially when making the dish your first time.
“Follow every step as written THE FIRST TIME you make it. Once you know how it turns out when the recipe is followed to the letter, you’ll have a better idea of how to tinker with the dish to suit your tastes,” advised one user.
Oil, Garlic, and Butter
Want something to taste good? Add oil, garlic, or butter. In moderation, these three components can enhance most dishes’ flavor.
“This is the basis of every Portuguese meal, onion, and garlic slow fried in olive oil, works with countless dishes,” shared one Redditor.
Of course, it doesn’t work on everything.
“Took this advice, and now I’m banned from the ice cream parlour,” joked another user.
Clean As You Go
Cooking and cleaning every night is a monumental task that can quickly become overwhelming. Many users said cleaning as you go can help reduce the burden.
“If you’re not using a utensil or strainer or whatever you use anymore, clean it while you wait. I’ve kind of made it a game to see how efficient I can be while cooking. It’s kind of fun,” claimed one user.
Others said they wash, rinse, and clean up whenever they can. If the meat is simmering, rinse a bowl. Clear the counter while the water is boiling. You can do numerous small things while waiting for things to heat up that will make the after-dinner cleanup a lot easier.
Use a Meat Thermometer
Undercooked meat can lead to dangerous diseases such as Salmonella poisoning. It’s vital to cook your meat to a proper temperature to prevent these illnesses.
“Meat thermometer is a must,” stated one user. “I use it on everything, even testing the temp of my kids chicken nuggets or my chimichanga from the microwave to see if it’s warm inside.”
Others said you should get two, a large one for whole birds and roasts and a smaller one for pork chops or steaks.
No one starts out making mouthwatering five-course meals for their friends and family. Most start with simple, easy-to-follow recipes and work their way up.
Start with the basics and follow each step as it’s listed. Watch videos and read books on cooking. After you get a handle on easy recipes, you can graduate to more complicated things and even create your own culinary masterpieces.
Invest in Quality Cookware
Dull knives make prep a nightmare. Poor-quality pans stick, burn food and make cooking harder than it needs to be.
Buying decent cookware the first time will save you loads of time and energy in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be the super fancy kind, either.
“You don’t have to spend 100s of dollars on good cookware, but 50-90 dollar set works well,” shared one user.
Others also discussed getting a knife sharpener. It may seem counterintuitive, but a sharp knife is far easier and safer than a dull knife.
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.