I’ve never been the best cook or meal preparer. I grew up in a home as an only child where we ate out a lot—both of my parents worked and my mom worked the night shift, so she was sleep a lot in the evenings. Which left my dad and I to fend for ourselves. He often took me out to dinner because he wasn’t much of a cook himself, and this is pretty much how I grew up.
Fast forward to me becoming a mom; I only knew how to cook 3 or 4 things—spaghetti, beef stew, hamburgers, and pizza—and I made them ALOT. My poor son never complained, though, but I am sure he got tired of eating the same things over and over.
Once I got married and had my second child, I did my best to be the provider of meals. I tried to stretch my wings and make new items, but often times, they fell flat. But once I stopped being nervous about cooking and I begin thinking out of the box, I noticed my cooking skills improved tremendously. And I am still not in the running to be on the Food Network, but I have expanded my cooking repertoire and my family seems to enjoy my improvement.
Here are the steps I took to be a better cook:
- Invest in good cooking materials: Having good cookware to prepare meals with goes a long way in helping your skills. You don’t have to purchase the most expensive non-stick pans but purchasing a mid-level one will not only help your cooking but will last longer, therefore, costing you less money.
- Don’t be afraid to season your food: I was always afraid to experiment with seasoning because I thought I would overdo it. Now I have a staple of seasonings and ingredients that I use all the time. Add them slowly, and taste. You can always add more, but if you add too much, it could ruin the whole meal.
- Meal plan: One of the reasons why I found myself in a cooking rut is I didn’t take the time to meal plan. Planning your meals as well as the execution of your dish goes a long way and contributes to the end result. So before you just cook, plan out your meal, your dishes, and how you will prepare them first.
- Measure: Measuring is very important because adding too much or too little of something can make or break your dish. Make sure you have the proper measuring cups and spoons to cook with and follow the recipe.
- Be creative: Don’t be afraid to be creative with a recipe or add your own “signature” to a dish. My signature is always in the finish—a topping, the way it’s served, the presentation. But your signature may be something else. A recipe is a guide, but if you want to add your own touch to it, by all means, go for it! And always taste your food before serving.
These are my 5 steps to being a better cook, and they have worked for me. I have come a long way, baby, and I feel more comfortable in the kitchen that ever before.
Take a look at some photos from last night’s homemade chili: