If you’re one of those who felt frustrated when your social media feed was suddenly flooded with people showing off their cooking mastery during the lockdowns, fear not. You’re not alone.
Not all people have the talent, or at the very least, interested in cooking. But once in your life, you will be forced to take over the kitchen. Maybe you’ve just started living on our own. Maybe you’re starting a family, and you and your husband have agreed to take turns in taking charge of the meals. Don’t rely on food deliveries. The kitchen, too, has some hacks. Here are a few basic tips for you.
First, your kitchen must be clean.
It doesn’t matter how delicious your food is. If it’s not prepared hygienically, it’s going to cost your family’s health. Additionally, it’s more convenient to cook if you have an orderly and clean kitchen.
Avoid stacking unwashed dishes and cooking materials. Once it starts, it piles up quickly. Train your family to clean as they go. It’s good training if your children would at least know how to wash their own plates.
You need a kitchen that will have a constant supply of safe, potable water. If you don’t trust your neighbourhood supplier, get yourself one of those galvanised water storage tanks, and install your own filtration system. It’s no longer difficult to look for this service, and it doesn’t cost much. It’s best to invest in a water system now, especially with the uncertainties of water resources brought on by extreme weather conditions.
Have a pot with a long handle.
If you’re not into fancy dishes, having just one pot will do. Why a pot with a handle? It’s to make sure it stays put when you have to stir the contents. It’s much more convenient and safer to hold the handle than use a potholder to hold the body of the pot. If you fear the heat from the pot, get a long ladle.
Buy a timer.
Most dishes can be ‘fixed’ unless you burn it or undercook it. Most stoves have temperature settings only. If you’re not sure how long you need to put the pot over it, check online cooking instructions, then set your timer. You could also observe your dishes when cooking them for the first time and note the time they get cooked. There are dishes where you need to add ingredients gradually. The timer would be very helpful too so that you don’t overcook or undercook some ingredients.
Get a set of measuring spoons.
You see those cooking enthusiasts just sprinkling some salt, adding a dash of pepper, and pouring in vinegar or oyster sauce straight from their containers. That’s for experts. Stick to measuring spoons. Since you would be working with recipes and cooking instructions, try to follow them as religiously as possible. Then taste your dish. Recipes and instructions are not customised to your taste, so you have to adjust depending on how you want your dish to be. Note the adjustments so you could replicate it when you cook again.
Always have oil and salt.
If you need to whip up a fast meal, you could always fry whatever’s in the fridge. Salt is your basic go-to for taste. You can also stock chili powder and vinegar. They would add zest to your dish, however plain it is.
In any case, don’t forget the spices when you make your grocery list. Most people who don’t cook often will overlook ingredients that give taste to the dishes. These are the onions, bell peppers, ginger, garlic, and maybe lemongrass.
Minimise buying canned food.
Yes, it’s convenient, but it’s not exactly healthy. If the pandemic got you anxious and you want emergency food, do the preservation yourself with natural methods. You could smoke or salt the meat to extend shelf life. You could also use honey or vinegar for fresh products.
Instead of relying on canned goods for quick meals, have something fresh like an egg omelette. Sandwiches are also quick to prepare—stock on cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. You could also learn a simple pasta dish. If you have mastered using a timer, pasta is convenient to prepare even for fancy dinners.
You don’t need to worry if you’re better at eating than in cooking. Many people feel it’s too much of a hassle, especially as cooking could take thirty minutes to even an hour, and yet your only need fifteen minutes to eat it up. But also understand that cooking is like creating a masterpiece, and they enjoy it when other people love their dishes. Don’t aspire to be something you’re not, but learn the basics of it for times when you’d need to do it.