Cooking Tips from a Mediocre Chef

If I told you a few years ago that I wanted to cook you dinner, you’d think one of three things: 1. OMG I hope this idiot doesn’t burn the house down. 2. Let me put the pizza delivery guy on speed dial now. 3. I better not get food poisoning. In many cases, you’d usually think all three.

I was never as bad as the gif above. My family can make all the jokes they want, I never set the house on fire. (I did set the alarm this Easter for burning bacon in the oven but that was more the pans fault than mine.) But I was pretty bad. Thankfully, over the years I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in the kitchen.

Now when I tell someone I’m going to cook for them, they usually think, “ok cool, there’s a chance this meal won’t be terrible and if I’m lucky and she’s on her game, it’ll actually be really tasty.”

The list of things I can make comfortably grows everyday (mashed potatoes, buttercream frosting, homemade cake, tacos, roasted veggies, and more). At a certain point, I realized that cooking is a necessity. I can’t rely on someone else to cook for me all the time and ordering from seamless is an expense I just do not need.

I have an oven, I have a fridge. I should be able to make things on my own. It didn’t come easy and there were plenty of mishaps along the way. This weekend I’m attempting bread for the first time so the list of mishaps will continue to grow. But I have gotten a lot better so I’d like to share some tips for a person afraid of the kitchen but who wants to get started.

  1. Start small. You’re not going to step into the kitchen and create a meal that Gordon Ramsay will love. That dude is picky so it ain’t going to happen. Try baking some chicken with roasted veggies and/or potatoes. This is a relatively easy meal that you can play around with. Choose different seasonings and sauces. Roast different vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Cooking is an art, baking is a science. When cooking something, it’s OK to tweak the recipe a bit. You can switch up spices. You can add a little less or a little more of something. However, this is not so easy with baking. Decide to decrease the amount of baking soda and there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with a lifeless cake. Wait till you’re really comfortable with baking before you start playing around with the recipe.
  3. The more you cook, the cheaper it will become. For awhile, I never cooked unless it was a special occasion. If I was going to a girl’s night, I’d decide to bake some cookies or bring some mac and cheese. Since this was the only time I cooked, I’d have to buy every single ingredient on the recipe list. As you start cooking, you’ll notice that there are plenty of staples found in many recipes. Once you buy these, they should last for several different recipes.
  4. You are enough to cook for. I love cooking for people. Cooking for people is fun. I love seeing the reactions of people when they enjoy what I’ve made. I also like getting critiqued on ways I could have made the meal better. However, you don’t always need an audience to whip up a yummy meal. I struggle with this a lot because I tend to only cook when my BF is going to be over. Don’t be like that. You deserve a home cooked meal even if it’s just a table of one.
  5. Take advantage of your freezer. Now here’s the downside of cooking for yourself or a small audience: Leftovers. Leftovers can be good for lunch the next day, but what if it’s just too much? Well, you’d be surprised at how many things you can freeze. I made a cake the other day and had way too much icing leftover. I packed it in an airtight container and put that bad boy in the freezer. Now, next time I make cake, I already have icing prepared.
  6. Freezers are also great for meal prepping. Cooking everyday can get tiring. No matter how much I enjoy it, sometimes I just want to come home and plop in front of the TV without touching the oven. That’s why I started making certain things in bulk. Soup freezes very well. I also usually make 2-3 batches of banana muffins at a time to freeze for later use. Instant breakfast on-the-go. Also, drop some chicken breast with salsa in the crockpot for a few hours and you can turn that into chicken avocado burritos for later use. Easy for lunch or dinner.
  7. Do not get discouraged! This is the biggest one of all. I have had so many mishaps in the kitchen. They are bound to happen. You will make meals that even your dog won’t eat. Don’t give up. The more you cook, the better you’ll become.
  8. Have fun! While 7 is the biggest thing, this is the most important. Cooking should be fun, almost as fun as the eating part.

Happy Cooking!

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8 comments

  1. I learned to bake before I learned to cook and I think the exactness of it helped me to not be as stressed when it came to cooking. That’s probably just my take on it, but I find the idea of someone else making decisions for once (in the form of a recipe) actually kind of relaxing

    1. I can get the relaxing aspect of having a recipe. I sometimes make up my own meals based on what I have in my house, but I am also so much more at east when I have a recipe to follow.

  2. Love this, great post! I started from the actual setting fire to the kitchen place a few years ago and I think all of these have come up for me too. Oh and adding a slow cooker to the mix, that pushed me forward lightyears.

  3. My biggest problem is #8. I HATE cooking. Always have. I wish I loved it, I really do. I sometimes “read” cookbooks and get excited and psyche myself up. I love the idea of it…but when I actually do it I despise it.

    What can be done about that?? 😦

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