Sometimes, when you want to eat healthy food and save money, you think of starting to cook at home. Cooking is one of the best ways to get rid of bad thoughts and relax to the fullest. When you cook, you combine your effort with your creativity, and improvisation becomes an essential part. However, you first need to master the basics of cooking before you start to change and experiment with ready-made recipes.
Why You Need to Cook
Now let’s understand why you need to start cooking at home and how it will benefit you if you aren’t convinced yet:
- To eat homemade food — Food prepared at home tastes far better than food obtained from a drive-through or take-out restaurant. We can control the freshness and quality of each meal we prepare since we have control over the ingredients we choose. The food you prepare in your house is almost certainly healthier than processed foods. You have control over which recipe to choose to manage calorie intake, maintain a healthy weight, and prepare something more nutritious.
- To get more skills — Once you learn how to prepare a few dishes, you’ll want to broaden your culinary horizons. More recipes and techniques will become available to you once you’ve mastered a few basic kitchen skills. Many recipes will seem fairly simple after you acquire some fundamental cooking skills, and you’ll be preparing excellent dishes in no time. Creating a weekly meal plan also ensures that you’ll be cooking with the products you’ve purchased, not letting any groceries go to waste.
- To save money — One of the few monthly expenses we have control over is our food budget. By cooking at home, you can set aside some money and spend it on other things, such as trips or gifts, instead of splurging on restaurants.
- To feel good — Spending time in the kitchen can reduce stress and anxiety while also improving mindfulness. Not only does the act of cooking and baking increase one’s mood, but also it brings a sense of accomplishment from seeing the finished result, making you feel happy.
- To connect family — When do you and your family communicate the most? When you eat something together, right? Cooking a delicious meal will put a grin on your face. You may have a bad mood, but once you prepare food and you see how your loved ones enjoy it, your efforts boost your mood. And after the food has been prepared and the table has been set, everyone gathers to talk about their life. Food promotes conversation and positivity.
Tips to Start Cooking at Home
Once you learn how cooking can benefit both you and your family or roommates, you may want to start experimenting. We’ve compiled 5 essential tips to make you feel comfortable while cooking at home. If you’re a beginner, follow these steps, and if you’ve already started cooking, check if there is an essential point you may have missed. Let’s get started!
1. Choose The Right Kitchen Utensils
Once you decide to make your kitchen a place full of delicious flavors, you need to get all the essential cooking utensils that will help you enjoy the process. Whenever you don’t have relevant tools and utensils, you get upset as you don’t even know which tools are essential for everyday cooking at home. We’ve compiled the 5 most essential kitchen utensils that you need to invest in as they will serve you for years and will be helpful no matter what you cook:
- Chef’s knife — The most crucial thing is to have a chef’s knife that allows you to quickly, safely, and evenly cut, chop, julienne, slice, mince, and dice all ingredients. It’s important to remember that a good knife will serve you for years. A chef’s knife can handle the majority of your kitchen tasks, influencing your overall performance.
- Pots and pans — How can you prepare soup, spaghetti, or saute vegetables without proper pots and pans? There are several essential pots and pans that each cook must have at home to prepare delicious foods.
- Non-stick pan — One of the widely used pans is the non-stick one and the name suggests that food doesn’t stick on the surface. These are perfect for preparing breakfast, such as pancakes and omelets. The slick surface provides easy cleaning and you use less oil for making a dish.
- Cast-iron pan — This pan is perfect for deep-frying. It’s ideal for browning meat as it also distributes heat evenly. The more you use these pans, the better they get as they serve you for a lifetime.
- Saucepan — For liquid-based meals, you’ll need a 2- to 4-quart pot. It’s great for boiling and stewing. Whenever you want to prepare soup, sauces, and noodles, you use a saucepan.
- Stockpot — A stockpot with a capacity of 8 to 10 quarts is great for cooking large quantities of pasta or soup. The best cookware to prepare pasta and spaghetti is a stockpot.
- Dutch oven — This is a perfect tool for braising. Whenever you want to prepare thick stews, you use a dutch oven. It can serve both on an oven and stove.
There are many other pans and pots, including sauteing, roasting, grill pans, etc. So you can look at which one you want to prepare your dishes with and expand the collection over time.
- Measuring cups and spoons — It’s critical to measure out the correct number of ingredients when making something, especially when you want to bake a cake or pastry. So, buy measuring cups and spoons for your baking process. Instead of using your “eyes” to measure the ingredients, you need these utensils for precise measurements. You can also consider getting mixing bowls for stirring ingredients, like vegetables to prepare a salad and beating eggs to prepare a cake.
- Chopping boards — You need a cutting board for chopping, slicing, and julienning vegetables and fruits for preparing your dishes. Through a chopping board, you can prevent cross-contamination. It’s recommended to have two types of cutting boards, a plastic one for poultry and a wooden one for fruits and veggies.
- Whisks and tongs — Making creams and vinaigrettes using whisks is faster and easier than with forks. And you want to be able to hold and lift food and place it on a serving plate when you’re preparing it. Tongs are useful in this situation. The latter is a tool for flipping, moving, and rotating food. Hold food firmly and prevent your hands from burning with these tools.
2. Start by Preparing Once a Week
Begin with cooking at home once a week, then twice a week, and so on. Make a recipe that will have enough leftovers to eat the next day. You don’t have to stress out by preparing every day, this may make you feel overwhelmed and upset. Enjoy the process by starting from small.
3. Read the Recipe and Prepare Ingredients Beforehand
The most common mistake that most people make is not reading the recipe from the beginning to end. You have to stick to the recipe for the first few months before you get enough expertise to experiment and improvise. Reading recipes thoroughly can help you realize what ingredients you need and how much time the preparation will take. For instance, sometimes you may choose recipes that will take you 2 hours, but you want to cook something that can be prepared as fast as possible.
Next, reading a recipe can help you prepare ingredients before starting to cook something. For instance, you can go to the store and spend less time as you already know what kind of ingredients you need. Then, once you buy everything needed, go and cut and chop everything before sauteing or simmering. Sometimes, you may miss an ingredient or burn something because of not putting everything you need in place. When you prepare your ingredients, it not only helps you save time but also makes your cooking process more organized and clean.
4. Choose Fresh Ingredients
It’s not surprising that you need to buy ingredients that are fresh to maintain your health and make dishes delicious. But how can you understand that the vegetables, fruits, or meat are fresh? Here are some common points for you:
- Smell, how is the aroma? The sweet and fresh aroma indicates that the fruit is ripe.
- Smaller fruits tend to be sweeter.
- Choose veggies and fruits that have bright and vibrant colors.
- If there are dark stains or wilted greens, then it’s not a good idea to buy.
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables are higher in quality and less expensive.
- Fresh meat should be vivid red; the bright color indicates its freshness. Check the freshness of the protein by pressing down it. If it springs back, then it’s fresh. The longer meat is left out, the less firm it becomes. If your finger leaves an indentation, don’t buy the meat.
- When buying a chicken, look at the color, it should be white or light pink. Whenever you notice purple, green, or gray parts, then it’s not safe to eat. Also, the flesh must not have a strong odor.
- Fresh fish smells like the ocean – maybe a little briny. Look at the eyes, it should be bright and full. Cloudy and sunken eyes indicate that the fish is not fresh enough.
5. Use Tricks To Prepare Better
We’ve compiled some common tricks that you may want to use when preparing dishes. Apply them if you want your cooking process to be quicker and easier:
- Never overcrowd the pan because the food absorbs moisture as it cooks. When pans get too crowded, food steams instead of browning. For instance, if you want to make French fries, it will steam instead of getting crisp in an overcrowded pan and, what’s more, some pieces may not be cooked properly as the heat won’t distribute evenly.
- Keep your spices in a cold, dark place to extend their shelf life. Humidity and heat can change their flavor.
- Whether you’re frying, poaching, or scrambling eggs, always turn off the heat a few minutes before they’re done, even if they’re still a little runny. The remaining heat will complete cooking. When boiling eggs, you can consider adding vinegar so that later it would be easier to peel them off.
- When making pasta, seasoning the boiling water with salt will provide a pleasant flavor from the inside as well. Use around 1-2 tablespoons, stir until it dissolves, and then add pasta after it’s boiling. You can also consider preparing your pasta sauce by using your pasta water.
- Wrap vegetables loosely in a dry paper towel and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Because oxygen is not a vegetable’s friend, try to get the air out of containers as much as possible before sealing them. Also, don’t wash if you don’t go to eat it. Overstocking the refrigerator may lead to less airflow, resulting in inconsistent temperatures and food expiring sooner. So, leave sufficient space in your refrigerator.
These were some of the tips we’ve compiled to help you enjoy your cooking process. Follow these tips and get to cook, good luck!