Nutrition Tips

6 Easy Ways to Become a Better Cook

Six quick and easy ways to become a better cook in no time at all.

how to become a better cook

Eating at home regularly is good for our health, budget and family relationships. But in order to eat at home, you have to know how to make a few things. And while this sounds easy, it’s intimidating for many of us who don’t feel confident in the kitchen.

I often hear chefs tell non-chefs to “just start playing around in the kitchen” or to “stop thinking and just start cooking.” That advice seems pretty vague and not that helpful. So I wanted to share a few specific tips you can implement immediately to make cooking easier. Once cooking feels easier, you’ll be more motivated to do it more often, and when you’re cooking more often you’ll become a better cook fairly quickly.

Here are six quick and easy ways to become a better cook.

1. Use a bigger cutting board and bigger knife.

Nothing feels more awkward than trying to chop an onion with a tiny paring knife on a tiny cutting board. Yet I see people attempting this all the time. Make it easier on yourself by getting one big chef’s knife (8″ or 9″) and a cutting board large enough to catch all the pieces of ___ that fall as you chop. Keep your knife sharp with a simple knife sharpener like this and you’ll feel like you’re in control of the food, not the other way around.

2. Add more acid.

When something you make tastes bland or like it’s lacking something, it probably needs salt or acid – or both. I always have tons of lemons on hand, plus a few limes and a few kinds of vinegar, which can brighten any dish in an instant. Never underestimate the power of citrus!

3. Salt as you go.

A dish that didn’t have any salt added until the very end will just taste salty. A dish that has received a light sprinkle of salt during every phase of cooking will taste flavorful. So don’t forget to salt the water for pasta, to salt the sautéed veggies that will later become soup, and to season dressings and sauces as you mix them. Also key – use coarse kosher salt which is less salty than table salt or sea salt.

4. Repeat recipes that turn out well.

When you try a new recipe and everyone loves it, make it again sometime soon. Then make it again a few weeks after that. Once you’ve made it a handful of times, you’ll know it by heart and will slowly build a repertoire of meals that will become your go-to’s. You’ll also get better at swapping ingredients based on what you have,

5. Keep a minimalist pantry.

If your pantry is super full with random products, you’ll feel bogged down and unable to put ingredients to good use. Instead, keep some basics on-hand like grains, beans, canned tomatoes and condiments. Try not to buy items you’re unfamiliar with or don’t know how to use (you can do that later) – because they’ll likely just sit there or get used only once. Stock foods you know and feel comfortable with.

6. Read ingredients lists on your favorite prepared foods.

Love the frozen stir fry from Trader Joe’s? Have a favorite soup from your grocery store’s deli? Read the ingredients in these, then create your own using the same stuff. (Remember – if yours tastes like it’s missing something, try adding salt or acid). After a time or two of creating store-bought favorites at home, you’ll have your recipe down and will probably like it even more.

how to become a better cook

Would love to hear any other tricks you have for building confidence in the kitchen. With a small amount of effort we can all become a better cook!

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Tasha Brown
    June 22, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    My go to is preparing my veggies all in one day for the week. For instance, I’ll wash all lettuce, cucumber, carrots, green onions, etc for a salad, dry them and cut them all and then put them in a large glass dish with the heavier veggies on the bottom. All week long I will grab from this pre-made salad for my family to put in lunches and use for dinner.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      July 11, 2017 at 9:11 am

      So smart. A couple months ago I started buying and washing lettuce on one day per week, to reduce packaging waste (I’d been buying bagged pre-washed lettuce) and it really doesn’t take that long. Doing it all at once is key! thanks for sharing your tip 🙂

  • Reply
    Norma
    October 8, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Great ideas, I do follow 1 more strategy to use fewer ingredients as that helps me to judge which things are fitting well in the dishes as sometimes if you use a lot of ingredients then if something goes wrong it would be difficult to understand which item was it.

    Besides your list are amazing. Thanks for sharing that.

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