So you suck at cooking? Well, don’t fret too much… According to one study, 1 in 7 men in the UK can’t cook at all.
But, being able to cook is more than just a quite essential life skill. Being able to rustle up a few dishes from scratch is a great way to impress your friends, improve your own diet, not to mention your confidence and maybe even win over that on-off girlfriend of yours.
The good news? Cooking ain’t that scary mate…
The bad news? Yes, you’ll probably suck the first few times you try. BUT! Don’t let that put you off… You’ve gotta break some eggs to make an omlette. And actually, that is entirely appropriate if you’re aiming to become a better cook.
What does it mean to be a decent cook?
If you can cook yourself a decent healthy meal, from scratch, without relying on pre-packaged/microwavable ingredients – well, you’re onto a winner.
If you can do that for every night of the week, so 7 days, then all the better.
Aiming to have 7 good recipes that you can make without burning your house down or giving yourself the runs is a good start on your journey to being a better cook. So, now that we’ve defined the objective, how can you improve your cooking skills?
We’re gonna assume that you can barely make toast without some sort of assistance – so hold on.
1. Start simple
Like many things in life, simple is often better. Or, at least, is a very good starting point. So if you’re aiming to be able to make a beef bourgingnon or cheese souffle from scratch in a week, well… Buddy, you may need to put the brakes on.
Like all things in life, becoming a confident and competent cook is about building up those skills.
Try these basic recipes on for size:
- An omlette
- A steak cooked medium (with boiled potatoes)
- Spaghetti with tomato and basil
- Stir fried veg/meat
- A simple stew or curry
- Boiled rice (harder than it sounds)
- Baked potatoes/jacket potatoes
- Pan fried fish fillet
By starting with the simple recipe, you can understand where you’re starting from and build your confidence and experiment.
2. Use ‘hacks’ to your advantage
Cooking a sea bass fillet perfectly is one thing. But doing that while also preparing two sides can be a little daunting when starting out.
But there is nothing wrong with using some ready made items to help you focus on the main event.
Example: frozen fries/chips are your friend. Baked beans? Yeah, use Heinz.
The key here is to still focus on preparing the main dish yourself, from scratch, where possible.
3. Follow recipes
There are so many recipe books, celebrity chefs, cooking YouTube channels and Instagram cooking hack channels that it’s never been easier to find great recipes.
Use them! Find simple recipes that you think you could do, and follow them to the letter. Book mark them for later, create an online scrapbook and make a point of tackling those recipes.
By following recipes, you can really build up your confidence and become a better cook quickly!
4. Take a class
Chances are there is some kind of cooking masterclass near you. And, if there isn’t, you’ll find one online.
By taking a cooking class, you can find you really improve your cooking skills fast. And if you don’t want to/can’t attend one in person, there are loads online too.
5. Sign up for a cooking subscription package
There has been a huge growth in packages such as HelloFresh which make cooking recipes from scratch a breeze. Many of them even offer a free trial to hook you in, and honestly, these can be a life saver for the clueless chef.
Some, such as Spice Masters, even offer you some incredibly yummy looking recipes and a very affordable package to get started!
Search online for cooking subscription packages.
6. Understand flavours and spices
Variety is the spice of life. And understanding how to use spices and flavourings is a key part of becoming a confident cook.
Our tip is, again, keep it simple. At least when starting out…
Salt, pepper and oil will be all you need to start.
Add salt to your rice or potatoes, add a sprinkle of pepper to marinades, splash that oil all over salads. Again, the simple things make a big difference in your cooking journey.
There is literally no substitute for experimenting with food. Yes, you will get it wrong. A lot. Yes, you will make dishes that might be inedible and better suited for the bin.
But, like anything else in life, you don’t improve as a cook if you don’t keep trying. Failure is part of progression.
Another reason to experiment is that you can try different flavour combinations, see how long it takes to cook pasta perfectly and how you really like to cook a steak.
8. Eat out and analyse the food
Eating out is a great way to expand your tastes, and great for finding a new fave dish. And one way to become a better cook is to try and analyse and emulate what you eat in restaurants.
You probably won’t nail it, cos these guys are pros. But, when you start to analyse what you’re eating, you’ll start to develop your understanding of flavour combos, whether you prefer things more or less salted or spiced, and presentation skills too.
9. Become a food nerd
There are so many ways to improve your cooking skills. There are countless YouTube channels dedicated to cooking and improving your skills, not to mention the traditional recipe books.
We like Pro Home Cooks for starters…
Ask you mum how she makes your favourite dish, join cooking clubs and find social groups on Reddit, Facebook or Instagram dedicated to cooking.
Everyone loves food and there is a huge community around amateur cooking. Get involved!
And those are our tips to levelling up and becoming a better home chef. Got your own tips? Share them below…