So, you’ve finally decided to start cooking and preparing your own meals? Congratulations! After all, cooking can be a wonderful way to start living a healthy lifestyle and also allows you to save more money in the long run. It’s a fun, fulfilling, and overall useful skill that anyone can learn and develop over time with enough practice. And just like any other skill, it’s absolutely important to have the basics down first before jumping into more advanced techniques. That’s why we here at McCormick have prepared six simple tips that can help make your first foray into cooking easier and more enjoyable!
- Keep it Simple
Before you begin, you first need to know what it is you want to cook. And that’s when finding a recipe comes into play. When looking for a recipe it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to create a complex dish that’s sure to impress, but even the most seasoned of chefs had to first learn how to fry an egg before they could prepare a full three-course meal. Starting with an easy-to-prepare dish allows you to familiarize yourself with your cooking area and to get a general feel for the processes involved in cooking. It also lessens the chances of wasting food as you are less likely to botch a simple recipe compared to a more advanced one. There’s no shame in starting with the basics
- Always double check the recipe
This tip may seem obvious upon first glance, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget specific aspects of a recipe. Familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of the recipe will make any sort of kitchen mishap far less likely to happen. It’ll help you easily avoid certain cooking mistakes, such as putting two teaspoons of a certain ingredient when the recipe actually calls for two tablespoons, or worse, forgetting a key ingredient altogether. It’s a simple thing to thoroughly read through the measurements and step-by-step instructions, but it really does make all the difference. So always refer to the recipe.
- Prepare everything in advance
Having all the necessary ingredients properly measured and set up before cooking will not only allow you to save precious time while cooking, but also help create a more relaxed and stress-free cooking environment. Practicing this tip will allow you to more easily focus on a specific group of tasks at a time without getting too overwhelmed. After all, it’s difficult to precisely measure a ¼ cup of McCormick Cayenne Pepper while you have several other things happening all at once. This tip also comes in extra handy if you’re cooking alone without anyone to assist you.
- Timing is everything
Always keep a timer handy during the cooking process at all times. Aside from helping you avoid overcooking/burning your meal, it’s also important for keeping track of how much time it will take to prepare certain parts of the recipe so you’ll know which steps you’ll need to prioritize first. For example, if it’ll take longer to boil noodles than to make spaghetti sauce then it would be wiser to begin boiling first and then mix the sauce after. And if you get all your timings just right, you’d even be able to serve your meal hot and fresh just in time for dinner!
- Always Clean. As. You. Go.
Cleaning is a part of the cooking process. Believe it or not, the benefits of keeping your cooking area clean go way beyond just health and sanitation. A clean workstation that’s free from clutter is also free from any unnecessary distractions that may divert your focus from the task at hand. This will give you more space to work with, and allow for a less stressful cooking environment. More importantly, having a neat cooking area can prove to be a massive time saver in the end - when the cooking is all done, you can go straight to serving up and enjoying your delicious meal!
- Have fun with it
Cooking should not have to be a chore. Yes, it may be true that the tedium of chopping up and measuring ingredients, as well as the pressure of not messing up the dish, can add a lot of stress. But in reality, it’s simply a matter of finding a fresh perspective on the cooking process. Cooking can be a way to unwind after a long day, or a bonding activity to do with friends and family. You could even put on your favorite songs while you cook to help create a fun and light atmosphere! And when you’re done cooking, you can always try and flex your creativity with your plating by adding some fancy garnishing to your dish with herbs and sauces.
There are so many small yet impactful ways to bring joy and excitement to the act of cooking. It’s easier to start learning how to cook with confidence when you’re given plenty of enjoyable reasons to keep coming back to the kitchen and create something delicious. After all, cooking is a useful skill that you can’t go without, so it doesn’t hurt to have fun and simply enjoy the process!