Off to uni, or just moved out, and can’t boil an egg? We’ve got you covered.
Cooking is a valuable life skill that enables independence, creativity, and a sense of accomplishment.
Mastering basic cooking techniques can open up a world of delicious possibilities, and help save you money as you move away from home, or prepare for adult life.
Not everyone has parents or carers around to help - so here are our basic cooking tips to help you get started.
Start with Simple Recipes
As tempting as it can be to dive in with complicated recipes to show off your newfound skill, it’s important to master the basics first!
Begin by choosing simple recipes that match your skill level. Look for dishes with fewer ingredients and straightforward instructions. Gradually expand your repertoire as you gain experience and confidence in the kitchen.
We recommend starting with meals you’re familiar with, and have seen being made. This way, you’ll know what flavours and smells should come about during the cooking process.
TikTok creator @good_food_mood shares amazing ‘one pot, one portion’ recipes to help you get started, and minimise food waste!
Before you start cooking, gather all the necessary ingredients, tools, and utensils. This ensures a smoother cooking process and minimises the chances of missing an ingredient or scrambling to find the right equipment.
Make sure you know where to find all of your utensils, and where/how to store equipment, and that you have all the best equipment for the job!
If you’re starting with very little, there are few things that can’t be cooked in an air-fryer!
Master Knife Skills
Have you seen the video of the Kardashian-Jenners trying to chop a cucumber?
Invest time in learning proper knife techniques.
Practise basic cuts like dicing, chopping, and slicing. A sharp knife and proper technique not only make your prep work more efficient but also enhance safety in the kitchen.
Never put a knife in the sink, and keep track of what knives have been used to cut meat, fish, and other ingredients!
Understand Cooking Measurements
Familiarise yourself with common cooking measurements such as teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, and ounces. Some recipes are American - learn the conversion ratios!
Use measuring spoons, cups, and kitchen scales to ensure accurate measurements, especially when following recipes as a newbie.
When you’re a little more confident, you can experiment with ingredients and ratios to create new textures and flavours.
Learn Heat Control
Understanding heat control is essential for cooking different dishes. Learn to adjust heat levels on your stove or oven to prevent overcooking or burning.
Experiment with low, medium, and high heat to understand how they affect cooking times and results - this is about learning!
Quick tip: choose the appropriate size hob circle for the pan you are using! Not only will this save energy, but will prevent the sides of your pots and pans from being burned.
Master Cooking Methods
Explore various cooking methods such as sautéing, boiling, simmering, baking, and grilling.
Each method imparts unique flavours and textures to your food. Practise different techniques to expand your cooking skills and discover your favourite methods.
Experiment with Spices and Seasonings
Don't be afraid to experiment with spices and seasonings to enhance the flavours of your dishes.
Start with popular options like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and herbs like basil or oregano. Gradually explore new flavours and combinations to add depth to your cooking.
Don’t worry if you add too much of one ingredient - there are always ways of restoring balance to a recipe. Food is science!
Embrace Meal Planning
Develop the habit of meal planning. Create a weekly or monthly menu, make a shopping list, and prep ingredients in advance.
Meal planning saves time, reduces food waste, and ensures you have the necessary ingredients on hand.
If you’re juggling work and study, lead a busy life, or hate cooking and cleaning, meal prep can give you more freedom throughout the week as your meals are already prepared and portioned, ready to go.
Embrace Mistakes and Learn from Them
Remember that cooking is a learning process, and mistakes happen to everyone. Embrace the opportunity to learn from your culinary mishaps.
Everyone starts somewhere!
Mastering basic cooking skills empowers us to create delicious and satisfying meals, nourish our body, and gain independence.
With practice and a sense of adventure, the kitchen can become your creative playground, allowing you to explore new tastes and share your culinary creations with others. It’s time to get started!