Kitchens are not used as much as they should be. Too many people now rely on take-a-ways, microwave dinners or quite often will just go out to a restaurant for a meal. There are generally 2 types of people who let their kitchen appliances collect dust.
Firstly the people who are lost in the kitchen. If you haven’t grown up learning the ropes in the kitchen and watching others cook then the idea of cooking meals each night is foreign. Then there are the excuse makers. They have the cooking skills required to prepare a tasty healthy dish, but know all the excuses in the book to justify why they ordered in. “It’s too time consuming, difficult or inconvenient”. The result is more people living off processed, fast foods and kids are growing up with the same habits which they carry through to adulthood.
Whether you are completely new to the kitchen or just need a little more guidance, these 12 tips for easy cooking should ensure that everyone can prepare a simple, healthy meal.
1. Keep the cupboards and freezer stocked with the staple ingredients – Stock up on foods such as frozen vegetables and fruit, nuts, tinned beans, non-dairy milks and grains. These are long-lasting alternatives that you can use to easily whip up something healthy and tasty when you have run put of fresh ingredients!
2. Allow your self to make mistakes – if you are new at cooking you are bound to make mistakes. Learn from these and use them to grow your skills as a cook. Don’t expect every recipe to turn out perfect, use your cooking as a time to experiment and practice in the kitchen. I have lost count of the amount of times my recipes have turned out a disaster!
3. Organise your kitchen – spend time before you start cooking just organising your kitchen and the ingredients you will be using. Your kitchen will feel calmer and so will you. Take out the equipment you need for your recipe and put away the things you wont be using.
4. Clear your kitchen of clutter – My biggest tip, especially if you are a clean freak! Clear your bench of keys, wallets, papers etc. Empty the dishwasher and put away any clean dishes. Cooking in a cluttered kitchen can create stress and chaos.
5. Read your recipe start to finish before you start – This will also help you figure out how long it will take you to do each step. Some recipes will require you to soak something for an hour before hand- watch out!
6. Have all your measured ingredients on the bench – if you need only 1 carrot then get out only 1 carrot, put the bag back in the fridge. Do this for every ingredient. It will mean less clutter and also ensure nothing is forgotten.
7. Read your recipe as you go – You have just put your delicious paleo chocolate cake in the oven to cook, you re-read your recipe and realise you forgot to add the baking soda!! Eeeek! Read every step twice to ensure no ingredient is forgotten about.
8. Clean as you go – this might be personal preference but I tend to either wash dishes as I go, or rinse and stack them to wash afterwards. This keeps the kitchen tidy and makes less work to do after your have eaten your meal. It is also I bit scary when your kitchen looks like a bomb site!
9. Put used ingredients away – once you have measured out your ¼ cup of flour, put the bag away. Less clutter, less confusion, less stress.
10. Season well – A little extra himalayan salt, pepper, fresh herbs, lemon juice, chili, paprika, garlic, sesame seeds can go a long way in terms of flavour. Taste as you go an ensure you add the correct amount.
11. Blanching vegetables – Blanching just means bringing a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and quickly cooking vegetables until they’re about 70 percent cooked. A few things to remember when blanching: Blanch vegetables in small batches, keep the water at a strong rolling boil, throw the vegetables straight into cold water to stop the boiling process. Google the required boiling times for each vegetable but generally 3 minutes will suit most vegetables.
12. Spiralizer instead of grating – Using a spiralizer adds another dimension to your dishes. Long gone as the boring small pieces of grated carrot. Zucchini, apple and carrot as my favourite. You could also try it on sweet potato and roast the strips in the oven.