Cooking can be quite a scary ordeal for those who are inexperienced. But, it is time to stop tip toeing around your kitchen. Know that everybody is fully capable of making their own meals and I strongly believe EVERY SINGLE person should understand the basics of cooking. In order for you to succeed and gain confidence in the kitchen you need to wrap your head around the basics. The first important lesson for you to know is that failure is inevitable.
Here is the best part though, if you fail while you are alone, no one needs to know!
Because everyone fails at cooking, especially when they are just starting out. It took me quite some time to not burn chicken because I was afraid of not cooking it all the way through.
Before we officially get started on what is needed for your success in the kitchen, I need you to do one thing for me. STOP BUYING TOP RAMEN! Yes its cheap, yes it probably was a staple in your diet at some point, but now you are at a juncture in life where it doesn’t need to be, NOR SHOULD IT BE, in your pantry.
Benefits of a Home Cooked Meal
The benefits are astounding:
- Healthier: You have the option of making healthier decisions when you are the one cooking the food. If you are sitting down at a restaurant, getting fast food, or ordering delivery the food may contain high amounts of sugars, fats, carbs, or just come out as high calorie dishes. At home, you can cut out what you don’t need, make appropriately sized portions, and begin to build healthier habits.
- Money Saving: Eating out can be an expensive ordeal! Shopping for your own groceries is a fantastic way to save money and the best part you don’t have to add a tip when you are making your own meals!
- Increased Knowledge: Cooking is a compounded skill. Once you know the basics you can continue to expand your abilities. The more time invested the better you will become.
- Gained Appreciation: Experiencing first hand what goes into the creation of a dish helps build an appreciation for the process and the outcome. You will learn to savor the high quality food and thank those who provide you with tasty meals.
- Socializing: Food is often the center piece of social experiences. As an adult, you most likely will participate in an office pot luck, get invited to a dinner party, or find yourself hosting a game night. In all of these instances food plays a primary role. You want to bring something edible!
- General Control: Your kitchen is under your control. You decide what will be cooked. Food safety and cleanliness (which we will cover a little bit later) are your responsibilities but at least you will know what is or is not being done in your kitchen.
Essential Cooking Tools
Any skilled crafts-person needs to have the appropriates tools available for them to create. Cooking in itself is a craft, therefore, even the inept need the appropriate set of tools.Here are the essentials every kitchen, even a starter kitchen, should have at their disposal.
One thing to note: For those frugal shoppers, you may be thinking to yourself, what is the best possible deal I can get on my cookware or kitchen supplies. Well throw that thought out! I would encourage you to think more about higher quality supplies. A great pot or pan or set of knives not only makes cooking easier but can last you much longer than a cheap version.
DISCLAIMER: The below images lead to items I found on Amazon
The List of 10
- A Cookware Set – Minimally, a 12-inch everyday skillet, a small covered sauce pan, and at least a 6-quart stock pot for making pasta or soups.
- Quality Chef’s Knife – This is where you should definitely splurge. It is the most used tool in the kitchen.
- Cutting Boards – You need multiple in order to avoid food poisoning from cross contamination.
- Mixing Bowls, Measuring Cups, Measuring Spoons, and a Colander – To properly follow recipes you need to be capable of measuring and mixing.
- Glass Liquid Measuring Cups -With a pouring spout and measurements written on the container these are much more functional for recipes requiring liquids.
- Cooking Utensils – To get started you need at least a multi-purpose spoon, slotted spoon, and long tongs. You can complete the set with a can opener, peeler, masher, and more.
- Bakeware – Every kitchen should have at least a 9″x 13″ baking pan for cooking in the oven.
- Dishware, Flatware, and Drinking Glasses – You need to be able to eat on or in something using more than disposable plates and utensils.
- Potholders, Mitts, and Towels – For your own safety, you need a set of oven mitts and kitchen towels.
- Tupperware – Now that you are making all of your own meals you need to be able to store leftovers!
Cooking Basics Everyone Should Know
- The Four Knife Cuts Every Cook Should Know on Serious Eats
- How to Chop an Onion – Taught through a video with the famous chef Gordon Ramsay (this is how I learned)
- Sliced, Diced, Julienned, and Minced with Nerd Fitness (great site)
- Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill – Kitchn wrote a fantastic all you need to know about food safety
- Stay up to Date with Government Regulations and Recalls
- Eggs should be your testing ground. Cheap, accessible, and so many options to attempt.
- The Incredible Egg – a wealth of information on how to cook, tips and tricks, and more.
- Pasta 101: Cook Perfect Pasta with Dellalo
- DON’T ADD OIL – it can prevent sticking in the boiling process but make the pasta oily which guarantees the sauce sliding off
- Assorted ways of Preparing to Cook Chicken with Taste of Home
- A Variety of Ways to Cook Chicken with Tyson
Steaming and Roasting Vegetables
Next Challenges You Should Take On
- Making Soup and Stews
- Crock Pot
- Stir Fry and More
Final Thoughts & Quick Tips
We all have so much information at our finger tips to making cooking easier. Video tutorials, well written articles, and assorted recipe libraries found across the web. All you need to is move past that initial fear and spend more time in the kitchen.
Last set of quick tips from me
- Fail and Fail Often – Learn what doesn’t work so you can be intentional on your success in the future.
- “Garlic Fingers” – Cured from rubbing your fingers on stainless steel (I don’t know the science).
- You can always add more! – Spice lightly and add as you taste. You can’t take the spices back once they are in the dish.
- Don’t Improvise until you get the basics – Get down the foundations first and then go wild.
- Clean up as you go – Almost necessary for my personal sanity. You don’t want to think about ALL of the things that need to be cleaned while you are enjoying the food you just made. If there is down time use it to clean up a bit.
- Don’t Overcrowd – Food needs space to cook on all sides, if you overcrowd you are looking at uneven cooking.
- Turn Pan Handles – Last thing you need is to bump a handle and knock over the food you have been cooking…or worse burn yourself. So, turn those handles away from where you or someone else might be walking.
- Be Wary of High Heat – Cooking is not a race! Excessive heat can damage your cookware. It can also give you the perception that something is cooked on the outside when it is not on the inside. Often slower is better on lower to medium heat.
Now go on and cook something already!