New to cooking?

Cooking can be fun, a lot of fun. And there is great joy and satisfaction in eating a meal you prepared from scratch. But sometimes cooking can take a lot of time. When I first started preparing meals for myself, my biggest complaint was how long it took to make the meal. I felt like I spent forever getting the meal done and not even half way through I would be hungry and frustrated. Have you had a similar experience? It gets better. Like many things, practice makes cooking easy. Now I am comfortable in the kitchen and can breeze through recipes.

Here are some tips for those new cooking:

  • Decide what is going to take the longest and start there. For example, your meal is salad, baked potatoes and hamburgers. Start the baked potatoes first because they will take the longest to cook. While they are cooking you can work on the other items.
  • Get all the ingredients in advanced. You want to make chicken enchiladas but you don’t have any chicken. By the time you go to the store and come back you will already feel like you have spent a long time preparing the meal.
  • Store similar ingredients/cooking tools together. I keep all my spices, seasonings, baking soda, baking powder, etc. in a drawer that is easy to reach. All my measuring cups are in the same spot. It saves time because you don’t have to look all over the kitchen for what you need.
  • Don’t cook on a hungry stomach. Whenever I start cooking and I am already hungry, it’s a recipe for disaster. I rush through the directions because I am in a hurry and make mistakes. Fixing the mistakes adds more time and prolongs my hunger. Try to cook before you are hungry. If you want to eat at 6:30pm, don’t wait until 6:15 to start cooking. If you are hungry when you start cooking, eat a snack.
  • Know cooking terminology. Before you start a recipe, look through the verbs and make sure you know what they mean. Look for any abbreviations. Tbsp is commonly used for tablespoon but with a quick glance, it looks similar to tsp.
  • Read the entire recipe before starting. In the past I have decided to make recipes because of the title 15 minute….whatever. Started the recipe and then got to the bottom where is stated to add the cooked meat. But I didn’t have the meat already cooked, I needed to cook it. Suddenly, the 15 minute recipe isn’t that quick. Make sure you know what the recipe entails before preparing it.

What do you think are the biggest challenges of cooking? What tips would you offer to someone beginning to cook?

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