Cooking at home is the art of preparing safe and edible food by carefully selecting ingredients that you think work best for your house. Home chefs have evolved throughout the years taking us back to our moms packing tiffins and coming home to yummy hot dinners.

Of late, home cooking has become more of a hobby with many taking to the kitchen for various reasons ranging from therapy to plain ol’ hunger pangs.

We’ve all heard that the best way to save money and eat healthily is to cook at home. However, when you’re cooking something that’s half as good as what you’d get at your favourite restaurant, it is convenient to get some take-out instead.

But what if you could make your dishes look and taste restaurant worthy? There are so many different ways that you can create your master dishes just by following a few essential kitchen rules.

In addition to that, you will also learn to make your meals taste more like the food you enjoy at the restaurant without compromising your health.

So here are some practical tips and tricks to make you a better chef.

#1.  Practice makes Progress

Making meals at home on a daily basis will allow you to develop your technique. What starts off as a mediocre meal might become a crowd favourite over time.

Invite your friends home to try out your cooking, and don’t be hesitant to innovate. You can even learn techniques from other cooks you respect.

Experiment with several cuisines to see what suits your style and taste. For example, you could cook Italian food one day, Mexican food the next, and your own take on hamburgers the night after.

Cook for others to gather opinions on your food. While it may be uncomfortable to expose yourself to criticism, feedback can improve your skills as a chef.

Make food for people as frequently as possible, then ask them what they enjoyed or disliked about what you made. Keep in mind any suggestions that make sense.

If possible, serve your food to those who like the style of cuisine you prepare. They’ll be able to give you more accurate suggestions.

#2. Work with Recipes

Have you ever started cooking and halfway through realized you forget to buy an ingredient? The simplest way to avoid this happening is to read the entire recipe before beginning. You can imagine yourself going through all of the processes so there are no surprises, estimating how long the dish will take, and preparing everything ahead of time.

Besides that, you should also consider using a recipe book or making one of your own. You could print out ready recipes of dishes you like and compile them into one book.

Printing out recipes is so much easier than using your phone. The option to check off steps you’ve finished is satisfying and clearer. You can also see everything at a glance thus saving you a lot of time.

When you first start out, make sure you follow recipes exactly. You should at least know the rules before you break them.

Choose recipes that appeal to you and cook them yourself. As you improve your cooking skills, try meals that embrace new skills you haven’t tried before. Don’t be scared to play with recipes in order to personalise them.

#3. Plan and Prep Everything

If you’ve ever seen a cooking show, then you’ll notice the participants all have their ingredients, utensils and measuring tools all set out in front of them. This is because when you’re cooking under a time crunch, wasting time rushing around and searching for things is a big risk.

Being organised and prepping your kitchen is extremely important. Make a list before you start cooking. You should make sure you have everything you need out in front of you. This is known as “mis en place” which means everything in its place.

Basically, it’s a cooking concept that ensures everything for a certain recipe is laid out, peeled, diced, measured, etc. before you even take out your pan. Planning these things ahead of time will significantly reduce your stress levels.

#4. Don’t make everything

If you have ever really loved a particular dish at a restaurant, you can try asking for or purchasing some of it for your home cooking. Eventually, you can also try making it from scratch but there’s no harm in taking a bit of help when you need it. In fact, making the most of restaurant leftovers or ingredients is an art in itself.

From coleslaw and salad dressing to some ready-smoked pork, you can always use parts of ready food to create your signature dishes. You can also make use of meal kits and then create your own dishes from their simple base.

#5. Buy the Right Kitchen Tools

Having the right kitchen tools is a really important part of being a good chef. Dish towels are a blessing in the kitchen for spills and hot dishes. Besides that, make sure you buy the best tools for your kitchen. You could have an onion slicer or a mandoline. Even a spice grinder and a handy peeler make your life in the kitchen so much easier.

Also, remember to sharpen your knives. You are putting your safety in danger if you do not sharpen your knives on a regular basis. A dull knife needs to work harder to slice through something, thus the chance of cutting yourself increases as you use more effort than you would with a sharp knife.

Sharp knives also make accurate cuts, resulting in more tender and leaner meat, more uniformly cooked vegetables, as well as neatly sliced pies.

#6. Taste and Season

If you’ve ever been annoyed by a dish that’s either too rich or too salty and don’t know how to correct it, understanding how to balance flavours and season your food can be your saving grace.

While cooking at home, if the dish doesn’t taste right, you’re most likely lacking salt, fat, acidity or heat. When you’re just starting out, salt and acid are the most common culprits.

Don’t leave your salt and pepper for the end. Season at each stage, from start to finish. Also, taste everything multiple times. The best way to tell whether something is ready is to taste it. This is also how you create complexity and add layers to your dish.

Salt is not always the way to go. Acidity is a blessing if you need to add some punch to a dish. You could squeeze a bit of lime or some vinegar into your dish to brighten it up the dish. Some lemon or orange zest goes a long way to make your dish work. Try to keep limes, oranges and vinegar close by so that you can add them whenever necessary.

Also, don’t be afraid to spice it up. When added in the correct quantities, a bit of spice can bring a lot of depth to an otherwise boring recipe.

#7. Create a Diverse Selection of Staples

It’s difficult to perfect your cooking techniques if you don’t have the necessary supplies on hand.

You should keep your fridge and cupboards stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, flour and oil. Stocking your fridge and pantry will allow you to create a variety of dishes without having to head to the shop, giving you more time to practise and perfect your dishes.

Besides that, you can also keep a few staple dishes that you can use for a wide range of meals. For instance, many types of pasta, noodles and various types of bread can be used to make a plethora of dishes.

You could have different sandwiches or burgers, or you could play around with different pasta fusions. In addition, you could even get some tacos or tortilla shells and have a fun Taco Tuesday.

#8. Take it Slow

When it involves cooking, patience is a virtue. Taking your time to do things well, whether it’s carefully adding ingredients to a recipe rather than throwing them all in at once, or patiently waiting for the bread to rise, will have a major impact on the quality of your meal.

Fight the temptation to constantly toss or flip food while cooking. Allowing the meat to get to room temperature before putting it in the pan can help its proteins soften somewhat, making it more tender when it’s done cooking.

Never ever empty a pan onto a dish or tray. That is a sign of laziness. To serve, use a serving spoon. Fortunately, once you’ve had plenty of practice, scheduling your dishes so that they’re all ready at once will be a breeze as well.

To Wrap it Up

Cooking at home is a really fun way to enjoy your food as well as ensure you are eating well. Cooking is a hobby to some while to others has evolved into a career. However, no matter what level you are at in your cooking, there is always room for improvement.

If you want to gain greater confidence and boldness in the kitchen, here are some key concepts for you to embrace:

  • Keep practising at home and in front of friends.
  • Work with many recipes and create your recipe book.
  • Plan and Prep for each meal.
  • You don’t have to make things from scratch. Use readily available ingredients.
  • Buy the correct kitchen tools and sharpen your knives.
  • Work with a wide range of staple ingredients.
  • Finally, go slow and enjoy your cooking journey.

What tips do you use that make cooking easier? Which are your unique staple ingredients? How do you elevate your dish using ready ingredients? Let us know in the comments section below!

Danielle D'silva

Danielle is a content writer with a love for books, music, and lifestyle blogs. She enjoys trying different types of Indian curries or shopping for trending vintage aesthetic outfits.