Cooking is a skill that is refined over time. As you cook more and experiment with different techniques and skills, you’ll start to get a much better understanding of how to achieve the results you’re after. Improving your cooking technique isn’t easy, but the more you do it, the more confidence you’ll gain..

Person holding stainless steel cooking pot with pasta
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Yes, you can use your microwave

Lots of serious chefs and home cooks would never think of using a microwave oven. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to achieve tasty food is to do everything the hard way. 

You actually can use the microwave for more things than just melting butter. It’s a tool to use to quickly bake potatoes, whether russet or sweet. A huge trend is using your microwave for baked goods. Baking a cake in a coffee mug is genius! I also love to do scrambled eggs in a cup. I’m just saying, taking small short cuts is smart and doesn’t mean your food won’t taste great.

Invest in better cookware and take care of it

If you’re serious about becoming a better home chef, you really need to start with quality pans and utensils. This doesn’t mean spending several hundred dollars on some designer cookware. Wait for stores to offer coupons and use those discounts to upgrade your bargain cookware a piece at a time. 

Always use the proper utensils for the pans your cooking in. Metal spatulas and spoons are usually a no-no if you’re using non-stick pans. If you want the pans to maintain their performance, don’t take chances with tools that will ruin the surface. Be sure you know the temperature limitations of your cookware. Some pans really shouldn’t be used the highest heat. There are some pans though, that can go from stove top to oven. Read all the paperwork that comes with your cook ware and follow their guidelines.

Another general rule to follow  is to hand wash your pots and pans. It only takes an extra few minutes to wash them by hand instead of popping them in a dishwasher. Dry them immediately to keep them looking and performing great.

Learn core knife skills

You’ll also want to invest in a good set of knives. Next, you’ll need to learn how to properly handle your knife. Cutting skills are important to kitchen safety. Knives are dangerous, and you need to use some skill to be sure you’re only cutting food and not fingers.

Learn about all the different knives that come in a block. They each serve a different purpose. Paring knives, fillet knives, chef knives, there are so many types! Knowing what each knife is designed for will let you choose the safest knife for the job. Be sure to keep your knives sharpened. This skill will keep your frustration low; a dull knife makes the job much more difficult.

Understand the importance of fresh ingredients

When you’re ready to get down to the job of preparing meals, start with the best ingredients. Learn what to look for when choosing produce. Is that tomato ripe? Check for soft areas or areas that look bruised. Avoid pale colors also. Tomatoes will continue to ripen off the vine. How about that onion? Check to be sure there are no brown or soft spots. If the onion looks like it’s sprouting- leave it. Melons are easier. If you can smell an uncut melon with your eyes closed and still recognize what fruit it is, it’s fresh. 

Fresh ingredients will make a huge difference in the quality of your food. In fact, one of the most important things to remember is that the simpler the dish, the more important your ingredients are. Something basic that only uses three ingredients will be heavily affected by the quality of the ingredients. Choose the freshest fruits and veggies for the best results.

Try a new recipe every other day

Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone to make things you’re not accustomed to. It could be an authentic homemade paella; or simply baking a cake from scratch. Using recipes for a wide variety of meals will help you hone your skills. It’s how you’ll learn favor profiles and the best way to develop those flavors. The more you cook, the better you’ll become.

If you’re serious about becoming a better home chef, you’ll need to create meals often. You can start with cooking just three meals a week. If you do this, you can better control your food budget and the health aspects of your meals. Cooking fresh meals that are mostly free of preservatives will give you a sense of accomplishment and well-being. You can do this!

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