Some people find cooking enjoyable and relaxing, while others view it as a horrendous chore. If you fall into the latter category, there’s hope.
Just a few small tweaks to your routine may revolutionize how you feel when you’re at work in the kitchen. And of course, when the food you produce starts to taste better and better, you’ll be more motivated to cook more often.
7 Kitchen Mistakes That Make Cooking More Difficult
1. Using dull knives. Every kitchen needs a good, sharp chef’s knife (a big non-serrated knife). Trying to chop or slice with a dull knife makes food prep more frustrating and less efficient, and you’re more likely to cut yourself. You can buy an easy-to-use knife sharpener like this one for less than $10.
2. Following recipes too exactly. Recipes are essential when you’re a new cook, but there’s no need to follow them so exactly that you can’t make adjustments to suit your tastes or the ingredients you have on-hand. Especially with soups, stews, baked dishes, dressings, sauces, salads and sandwiches, ingredients can be pretty flexible. Hate cilantro? Leave it out. Not sure where to find leeks? Use an onion instead. Have thyme and oregano but not rosemary? Just add what you have. Feeling confident that your dish will still turn out fine means it probably will.
3. Not adding salt & acid. Ever made something that tastes bland, boring, or just not that good? It’s probably lacking salt or acid – both of which add flavor and perk up any dish, hot or cold. Next time you find yourself in this situation, add a little salt and/or some citrus juice or vinegar and you’ll likely get that burst of flavor you’re hoping for.
4. Using too small a cutting board. Trying to chop a whole head of lettuce on a tiny cutting board that’s slipping around can make assembling a simple salad feel like building a house. Unless you’re slicing something very small (like an apple) or spreading peanut butter on bread, use a large cutting board that can fit all your ingredients. Place a towel underneath to prevent slipping.
5. Working in a messy space. Cooking in a clean, tidy kitchen can transform your feelings about food prep from chaotic chore into peaceful routine. Instead of letting ingredients and dirty dishes overwhelm your space, tidy as you go so that you always have ample counter, stove, and sink space. Not only will this allow you to move more quickly but you’ll feel less stressed out as you cook.
6. Not preheating your pan. Whether you’re scrambling eggs, browning meat for chili, or sautéing vegetables, your pan needs a couple minutes on the burner before you add oil or food to it. This initial heat helps improve the texture and flavor of whatever you’re cooking, so you won’t get that grey-looking meat or those mushy vegetables.
7. Aiming too high. The picture above shows one of our recent dinners. We eat like this (a.k.a. platters of nibbles) a lot, because it’s easy, tasty, and quick to put together. It may not be what you picture when you think of “cooking dinner,” but it does the trick on busy days and still counts as cooking at home. You can always make meals like this heartier by adding boiled eggs, leftover cooked chicken, cured/deli meats, or canned fish.