flower on a board with learn to cook written in it

Learning to Cook the Basics for Beginners

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Learning to cook delicious food is not as hard as you might think. There are a few tips and tricks that make a big difference in your recipes. And learning basic cooking skills takes a little practice.

woman cutting celery and checking a tablet for instructions for learning to cook

There are some foods that are used over and over again in many dishes, so learning to master those will take your cooking to a whole new level of skill. You can do this! You’re going to be a master cook in no time at all. All it takes is a little doing.

First, try to focus on one type of cuisine or maybe two. There are so many different cooking styles and flavor profiles, if you learn to master one, it can blossom into more. Maybe master 4-5 recipes of one style. Do you love Chinese food? Maybe start there.

When I was in my 20s with a husband and a baby and no skills whatsoever, my go to dish was tacos. We didn’t have money to eat out, so we had a lot of tacos and 4 for a dollar mac and cheese. Okay, I realize that was a really long time ago. I hear ya.

That’s all I knew how to make. And the tacos were a real treat. I used packaged taco mix because I didn’t know how to make my own. And I made them the exact same way every time. My husband and daughter love routine eating and they loved this. But I HATE eating the same thing all the time. I love variety.

It took me a few years (okay, decades, gah) to learn to make layers and depth of flavor and to really master good food. I am a great cook now and I want to help other people like me who just never learned it. I have a super tiny kitchen but I can still cook great meals.

Everyone should learn to cook

One trick of making delicious food is starting with good ingredients. In-season means food is harvested during the same weeks as you are shopping. It’s fresher, cheaper, and tastes way better! And if you start with good food, you’ll make good food.

Read the recipes! When you are learning to cook, follow them to a T until you find out how to use flavors. Write notes about your recipes when you make them, and for goodness sake, don’t do what I always do and lose them before it’s time to make them again. Recipes are a great way to learn good techniques.

I had an old version (it wasn’t at the time) of this two people cutting up veggies and reading a book for beginning cooking instructions

How to make really good food

There are a few nuances you can use learning to cook and make food better:

  • Don’t cut garlic and onions until you’re ready to use them, they get too strong
  • Don’t seed tomatoes, the flavor is in the seed gel
  • Keep your oils and fats in air tight containers, they can get rancid
  • Make sure your pan is hot before adding fat or food
  • Get all the flavor bits, stuck on browned bits in the pan are full of savory flavor so deglaze the pan instead
  • Toast spices and nuts before using them
  • Season, season, season, don’t be afraid of sugar, salt, herbs, and fat
  • Brown your food-brown food tastes good-baking, cooking, grilling, it needs to be browned
  • Learn to use herbs and spices
  • A squirt of lemon or vinegar can brighten up a dish
  • Learning basic measurements and equivilants will help your build your basic cooking skills

What are some of the basics that you should learn first? There are many things that are super versatile in many dishes.

Learning to make great pancakes is a good start for breakfast foods. Then venture out to other grain-based breakfasts.

Eggs are used in baking, cooking, and so much more. Learn to master eggs, and you’ll add to your cooking skills exponentially. You can learn a basic quiche recipe, and then create your own flavor combinations with it.

table with a b c and utensils, an egg and other beginning cooking items

Learning to work with meat and poultry, like cooking a whole chicken and making several meals out of it or cooking one pork roast and making multiple meals is a great confidence booster in the kitchen. Learning to cook a whole chicken, turkey, or duck is a great skill and a big money saver too!

Learning to make a basic stock out of your meat bones will help you save money, eat healthier, and have stock on hand for many recipes. Your food will taste better with homemade stock as well. Learning to cook is great for having more flavorful food.

Learning to mix basic seasonings will help build your kitchen prowess. They make great gifts and save time having them on hand to use. Your tacos will be much better than mine with homemade spice mix.

Learning to make a basic spaghetti sauce will be useful for pasta, pizza, sloppy joes, and more.

Learning how to use leftovers is a great skill to have too. I like to turn leftover food into something else. It helps us waste less and save money. Learning to cook helps your wallet too!

Mastering potatoes in many different ways can provide you with inexpensive meals that are bursting with flavor.

Learning How to Cook Dried beans will save you tons of money and you can do a large batch and freeze some. They taste light years better than canned!

If you need a chart to help you know when your steak is done, check this handy printable out.

Cheesemaking is a fun art to learn as well. Check out how to make homemade mozzarella here. And another simple beginner cheese is cream cheese.

As you can see, there are things that will help you in learning to cook that make a big difference in your skill level in the kitchen. I can’t wait to hear all about the things you’re doing in your kitchen once you learn a few of these tricks and tips. I’m rooting for you!

For more basics, check these out:

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