Cooking Basics Part 1: Getting Started

Unless you eat out every single day or purchase readymade foods, cooking is a daily part of life. Perhaps you just finished a kitchen remodel, installed a new range and range hood, bought new cookware and upgraded your sink. The great news is you’re ready to start cooking! Cooking can be a rewarding activity that will engage your creativity and your taste buds.

If you’ve ever flipped through a recipe book or browsed the cooking section at a book store, you know there are countless recipes out there. If you’re new to cooking, the best thing is to start out with something simple and easy. Here are some cooking tips for the beginners out there or a refresher for those more familiar with cooking:

  1. It will make things easier if you plan out the meals for the entire week. You can find a meal plan schedule and shopping guide online. This will ensure that you have all the ingredients on hand before you start cooking and help you stay within budget. You can find a meal plan that accounts for the number of people in the home and any special dietary concerns, such as sensitivities to dairy.
  2. Before you start working with any recipe, read the recipe in its entirety. You don’t want to get halfway through the recipe and realize you didn’t measure something out correctly or you don’t have all of the ingredients.
  3. Prepare everything before you begin. Measure out all of the ingredients and have them ready to throw in the pan or in the pot.
  4. Clean while you go. You will be much more likely to keep cooking if you take the time to clean the kitchen as much as you can while you’re cooking.
  5. Always be safe while you’re cooking. Turn on the range hood so it will vent out unwanted odors, grease, smoke and gases. Have a fire extinguisher nearby, and make sure everyone understands fire safety precautions in the kitchen. For example, know what to do in the case of a grease fire or how to safely stop a fire on the range. If a fire starts, call emergency services and evacuate the home.
  6. Invest in a set of herbs and spices. You won’t regret it. Soon, you’ll notice that with the right herbs and spices you can make anything taste delicious. You’ll probably eat out less because you’ll realize you can create the same dishes at home for a better price and in healthier ways. Remember, you can use dry or fresh herbs for cooking.
  7. It can’t hurt to keep some basics in stock. For example, salt, pepper, lemon, garlic, olive oil and butter are simple ingredients that are necessary in many recipes.

Cooking can be very rewarding, especially when you are able to pack up leftovers for lunch the next day and you learn enough to make good use of whatever you have in your fridge or pantry. Cooking skills are essential to becoming more sustainable and leading a healthier lifestyle.

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