Cooking has been a journey for me.
In my early twenties, I really didn’t cook at all! I went out with friends to dinner A LOT, and survived off of apple slices and canned soup at home. Cooking was something just for special occasions… I hated dishes and spending lots on groceries seemed like a waste to me when I was living in a small apartment by myself.
As the years have passed, the more my interest for cooking has grown. My hubby and I had a life-changing foodie experience at Rover’s Seattle (now closed… boo!!)… it was our first time doing a big French-style 9-course meal with wine pairings. Exquisite!
Since then, we started cooking and experimenting in the kitchen more.
Now over 30, I feel like I have turned a really good corner in regards to cooking and my knowledge of what makes a GREAT meal. There are a few things that I have realized make a finished dish that much better, and doing them requires zero skill at all!
So, here is my list of easy changes to make in the kitchen that require minimal skill and effort that will make your final dish so much more delish!
- Fresh vs. Frozen – Very simple… use fresh meats and vegetables versus ones from the freezer. Does this sound impossible to you? The trick is MEAL PLANNING. Write a good meal plan for the week and you will not have to worry about ingredients spoiling before you cook them. Your veggies will be crisper and your meats will be nice and juicy. If you do have to freeze meats to make it through the week, at least make sure that you properly defrost them (for real… don’t you dare stick that $hit in the microwave to defrost it) since that will help keep the meat from drying out.
- Bulk Herbs vs. Pre-Packaged – Most grocery stores have a ‘spices’ aisle where you will find bottles upon bottles of McCormick’s pre-packaged spices and herbs. RUN AWAY from this aisle and go to the bulk foods section instead. The spices there are much more fresh and flavorful, not to mention that they are like half the price! This was a big game changer for us… we realized we like spicy foods but the pre-packaged spices just weren’t getting the job done. We went to our local boutique grocer and purchased their cayenne pepper… HOLY CRAP! The flavor and spice intensity was outstanding.
- Brick Cheese vs. Pre-Shredded – We started buying those 2-LB bricks of cheese at Costco just because we eat a lot of cheese and were sick of stopping at the store to pick up more. We however became die-hards over buying our cheese this way when we saw how much better it made our food. First, since it is kept in one solid brick instead of shredded, it holds in SO MUCH MORE moisture! You will find that if you slice or shred your cheese fresh it is SOOOOOO MELTY 🙂 Try making pizza with freshly shredded cheese and you will be converted for life, trust me!
- Boil Less, Roast More – Boiled vegetables and meats have a bad reputation for a good reason. It’s an easy way to turn your vegetables into a pile of mush and meats into rubber if you aren’t careful! However, turning the oven on and throwing a pan of veggies in lightly seasoned with olive oil or herbs is a very simple way to cook that will get you a lot more flavor.
- Replace Water With Broth for Extra Flavor – I always have chicken or beef broth on-hand. If I am sauteing a meat or veggies on the stove-top and they appear to need a little extra flavor, I just toss in a little bit of broth to add flavor and moisture. Sick of plain white rice? Cook the rice in broth versus water and you will be happy with the result. Plus, that broth makes it super easy to throw together a quick sauce or gravy to add an additional dimension to your dish! If you don’t feel like keeping broth on-hand, bouillon cubes will surely get the job done.
These are all meant to be super easy tips that anyone can do, and they should work for vegetarian cuisine too. If you don’t adapt all of these ideas into your kitchen, at least try one or two and see what a difference it makes!!
Like chef Gusteau says, “Anyone can cook” 😉
I hope you find this helpful!