Cooking for beginners tips and help for those learning to cook at home.
Here, we are going to go over a few cooking basics that every cook should know, so that you can get cooking.
When it comes to cooking, it is important to keep in mind that everyone started somewhere.
In fact, I don’t know of a single person who was born with a wooden spoon in their hand, ready to cook.
When it comes to cooking delicious meals that you will be proud to share there is a lot to learn and there is always room for improvement.
Not only do you need to begin with the basics when it comes to cooking, you will need to be prepared to begin again when learning to cook new cuisine such as Chinese, Thai, or Indian food.
Learning to cook at home
Once you’ve learned the basics of cooking it is unlikely that you will ever need to relearn them.
This means that you can constantly build up and expand your cooking skills.
As you learn new recipes and improve your culinary skills and talents you will discover that preparing your own meals from scratch is awesome.
Much more rewarding than preparing prepackaged meals that are purchased from the shelves of your local supermarkets.
You will also discover as your experience and confidence grows that you will find yourself more and more often improvising as you go and adjusting recipes to meet your personal preferences.
If you prefer more or less of ingredients or want to make a recipe a little more or less spicy in flavour you can make simple adjustments along the way in order to achieve this goal.
In other words you will begin in time to create recipes of your very own.
This is something you won’t necessarily learn when it comes to basic cooking skills for beginners, but you would never learn if you didn’t master those basic cooking skills.
To begin cooking on your own, you need to get a few simple supplies, recognise terminology master cooking basics, and practice consistently.
Understanding Cooking Terminology
The first thing that you need to know is what the different terminology you will find in recipes actually means.
There are many new and sometimes foreign sounding terms that you will find in common recipes.
These terms can mean the difference in recipe success or failure.
If you aren’t absolutely certain what is meant by “Fold in the eggs” it is in your best interests to look it up.
When you are reading our recipes you will see that some words are highlighted and underlined.
If you click or tap on that word, a new page will open with the explanation of the term or ingredient and if necessary instructions of how to follow the process.
Here is our >> Cooking Terms and Definitions index
Get the correct cooking tools
Cooking utensils range from high-end, fancy cookware, to simple items, such as wooden spoons.
To start, you do not need to go all-out and purchase hundreds of dollars’ worth of items.
Instead, get the basics, such as a whisk, stirring spoons, a metal Spatula, and a scraping spatula.
Get basic pots and pans
A quick walk down a grocery store aisle will reveal a plethora of pots, pans, and gadgets designed to make cooking easier.
Ignore all of this, and start with the basics, including a stock pot, a saucepan, and a Frypan.
These three items will take care of most of your cooking needs
Purchase measuring cups and utensils
Recipes require precise measurements, so measuring cups and utensils are an absolute must.
You only need one of each, as you can wash as you cook, but make sure you have a full set of cup measurements (¼-1), as well as a full set of measuring spoons.
For ease, you should also get a glass measuring bowl that goes up to at least two cups.
Purchase at least one good-quality paring knife
Low-quality or dull knives can make cooking a chore.
Before you begin cooking, make sure you have at least one good-quality, sharp paring knife with which to complete your recipes.
Sharp knives will mean the difference between diced tomatoes, and a smashed, pulpy mess.
Mastering The Cooking Basics
Review safe cooking guidelines
Although cooking does not have to involve biohazard suits and meticulously-applied gloves, there are some safety rules that must be followed.
Never allow raw meats to touch other foods, for instance, and always clean your cooking surfaces after you’ve cooked to prevent bacteria growth and cross-contamination.
Prepare your meat separately from any other food items.
This means using a different knife, a different cutting board, and even a different benchtop or surface.
Although vegetables and fruits do not pose as high a risk, you should still sanitize surfaces that have come into contact with them.
The presence of food particles indicates the possible presence of unwanted mold and bacteria.
Follow recipes exactly.
Although it may be tempting to make alterations or substitutions as you cook, follow all of your recipes exactly as written.
When cooking, there are many chemical reactions and flavour interactions that go into making a dish excellent.
Until you fully understand how these chemical processes work, and feel comfortable mixing your own flavours, adhere to the recipe.
Later in your cooking career, you can improvise and add to (or detract from) dishes,
but you must master the basics first both to refine your tasting palate and to develop an instinct for cooking.
Start with breakfast
Breakfast dishes are often some of the simplest ones, and the recipes hardest to mess up on.
You can start with making different types of eggs like How To Make Dippy Eggs and Soldiers,
Then for instance, move on to basic pancake and waffle recipes, and gradually move up to baking and more complicated recipes.
Making your own breakfast will also help you develop the habit of eating breakfast each day, which is proven to help in weight management and staying alert throughout the day.
Move on to making simple meals more decadent
As you learn to master the basics, begin to add some flair to simple dishes, such as sandwiches or steamed vegetables.
A grilled cheese, for instance, lends itself to experimentation with different cheeses, fruits and vegetables, and types of bread.
To build confidence, practice making simple, easy dishes more decadent and unique.
Try your hand at soups and stews
Soups and stews are an excellent next step as you build your cooking repertoire, as they are also difficult to go wrong, provided that the recipes are simple and straightforward.
Start with something simple, like Creamy Aparagus Soup, and gradually work your way up to harder soups and stews, such as vegetable soup.
Soups and stews are both excellent for days when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.
You can place all of your items into a large crock pot, turn it on low, and let it sit overnight or throughout the day, and return to a ready-made dinner in the evening.
Move on to casseroles
Once you are comfortable with simple soup and stew recipes, you can move on to making casseroles.
While casseroles are more complicated than soups, breakfast foods, and items like sandwiches, they can still be quite forgiving due to the nature of their appearance (all mixed together), and the bounty of flavours most casseroles provide.
Practicing Your Cooking Skills
Make at least two meals per day at home
To effectively learn to cook, you must do so often.
Make a commitment to completing at least two meals per day at home when you are starting out to get your experience and build confidence.
Avoid complicated recipes that call for 2-3 hours of prep. Instead, shoot for recipes with only 30 minutes of prep time.
Do this to keep your interest level high and your cravings low.
Make a meal plan
When you are starting out, you will most likely need some routine and simplicity in place.
To streamline your cooking, make a meal plan for each day of the week, and set aside or mark each recipe you choose.
That way, cooking is not a chore.
Meal planning helps you feel some confidence and strength in your cooking, and it also makes grocery shopping a lot easier each week.
Make new dishes at least once per week
When you are just beginning, every dish is a new dish.
As you begin to grow comfortable with the food items you’ve mastered, incorporate one new meal each week to keep your meals fresh and interesting, and to keep building your skill.
Again, the key is to practice, not to make extravagant dishes.
Your new dish can be as simple as graduating from a frittata to a quiche, as long as you are incorporating a new skill.
Cook for your family and friends
Start small, by hosting a brunch or similarly low-key event.
Inviting family and friends to try your dishes will give you confidence, and will force you to truly focus in and hone your craft to avoid embarrassment or unsafe cooking practices.
When cooking for family and friends, choose a recipe (or recipes) you have truly mastered and feel confident in.
Complete meal prep ahead of time
As you work on practicing your craft, prep your meals ahead of time. One of the biggest pitfalls in home-cooked food is the prep time.
Between cutting vegetables, creating stock, and fluffing rice, you can quickly run out of time to make your meal.
Chop your vegies in advance, make a stockpile of chicken (or beef or vegetable) stock, and make a large batch of grains to eat throughout the week.
Make time for your meals
Once you’ve cooked your meals, make a nice ritual of eating.
Create a ritual surrounding all of your meals, and make them special.
This will encourage you to continue cooking, and will make not only the process of cooking fun, but also the process of eating and savouring.
For breakfast, open the blinds, turn on some music or a podcast, and prepare a cup of coffee or tea.
For lunch, you might set your plate next to a cloth napkin, and sit down to eat and ruminate.
For dinner, you could light a candle and eat in dim lighting.