Cooking for yourself and others doesn’t always have to be stressful! If you’re looking to amp up the meals you love to make, there are some SUPER simple ways that anyone can upgrade their cooking and make the food they make taste even more amazing! Whether you’re trying to impress friends at a dinner party, or you’re getting bored of how you typically cook for yourself, these are some sure-fire ways to upgrade your cooking super easily! Read on for the tips!
Specialty Oil and Vinegar
Most of us know that higher quality oil, and using the right kind of oil for your recipe, can make a huge difference when cooking. The higher quality the oil, the healthier it is as well. If you have a local oil and vinegar specialty store nearby, I’d recommend checking out what they have in stock. A lot of the time, these products are not only higher quality and therefore healthier, they will likely also have tons of different flavor infusions with the oils. I love a good smoky or citrus olive oil when cooking meats and veggies. I also love to use fruity balsamic vinegars wherever I can to add more depth of flavor to a dish. If you don’t have a local oil and vinegar specialty store nearby, there are some solid options online that will be sure to take your cooking up a notch. Using a single-source infused olive oil like this one will for sure make your cooking taste better, as well as make sure you’re getting high-quality oil. Although, if you want more freedom with what infusions you have on hand, you can also buy a high quality base oil (like olive oil, butter, etc.) and add your own infusions using an infuser like this one.
Sure, fresh herbs can require a bit of chopping here and there, but believe me, when you can substitute dried herbs for fresh herbs in your cooking, it makes a huge difference. This is a super simple way you can impress with your recipes, and BONUS– you can use extra bits to garnish and make your dishes look fantastic. If you have a farmer’s market nearby, that is a great place to find fresh herbs that are locally grown. However, an even easier way to get fresh herbs at home year-round is to grow your own! Growing your own herbs can be intimidating at first, but once you’ve gotten into the groove of growing, you’ll be glad you can just snip fresh herbs and use them in your kitchen! There are even kits like this one that help you with the growing, step-by-step.
Have a go-to salad formula
I used to hate making salads at home, mainly because they never came out tasting good. I would make them so bland and boring that I would never want to eat my home-made salads. However, making an interesting and delicious salad isn’t as hard as it may seem. Developing a go-to salad formula can be a game changer when it comes to making salads at home. My formula often includes a green massaged with a touch of oil (infused if it matches the flavors), then I add in veggies (and even sometimes fruits) and make sure they’re sliced small enough to enjoy within the salad. Next, I add a bit of protein, whether that be with nuts and seeds or with cheese and meats. After putting that all together, I make sure to season the heck out of my salads. I have no idea why I never seasoned my salads before, but even a touch of salt and pepper completely transforms your salads. I love to add freshly ground seasonings and fresh herbs to season my salads, and it’s just plain delicious. Finally, I’d dress the salad with a mixture of oil and vinegar– aka a homemade vinaigrette. Now, that’s not too hard, is it? But it’ll taste like a restaurant-quality salad now! You’re welcome.
Keep marinades on hand
Is part of why you think you need to upgrade your cooking coming from some laziness, even just a bit? Yeah, I feel you. Well, if you want to eat delicious meals and still be a lazy cook, keeping marinades on hand is a game changer. If you set aside time to stick your meats, etc. in marinades of all different sorts in baggies and keep them in the freezer, as they’re thawing, the meat will self-marinade and be ready for you to cook with minimal effort. Doing this simple step in advance will also let you have more time to pay attention to other elements of your meal. Here is an example of some delicious chicken marinades.
Use Kosher salt or sea salt
If you’re using table salt in your cooking, please stop! Table salt is a great finishing salt, but can act in weird ways when you use it while cooking. Instead, opt for some kosher salt or sea salt when cooking your dishes. This way, the salt will dissolve and get incorporated with the flavor of your dish better. Otherwise, the meal may come across as over or under-salted or, even worse, unevenly salted. I personally love cooking with sea salt and keeping it on hand for topping off as well, I feel like it works great for before and after a meal is finished cooking. Here is a good high quality sea salt to try out!
Use a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet
Cast iron skillets are no joke. They honestly do so much to enhance the flavor of your dish, especially when pre-seasoned like these ones. There are nearly infinite possibilities of what you can make in your cast iron, and regardless of if you’re cooking on the stove-top or the oven, your skillet will be able to handle it all.
Make your own bread
OK, so this one doesn’t really seem as easy as the rest of the tips, but don’t freak out! Making your own bread doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. Starting with an easy, no-knead recipe is a great way to get your foot in the door and experiment with making your own bread. Once you get the hang of it, though, you may never go back! Having fresh, home-baked bread is so convenient for recipes and can make whatever you make with the bread taste way better than it might have tasted with store-bought bread, and can actually be cheaper as well. Although, if you aren’t too worried about cost, buying bread from a local bakery or at a farmer’s market is the next best thing!
Use a digital scale
Most of us grew up cooking and baking with measuring cups. While these are great a lot of the time, sometimes it’s not ideal, especially when measuring dry ingredients. So, if you’re baking or cooking with dry ingredients that may be more or less densely packed into your measuring utensils, you may want to try using a digital scale instead. Simply switch the measurements on your recipes to grams, and get to work using a much more accurate form of measurements. Sometimes it’s little things like this that make a huge difference with the turnout of your meal. Here is a great digital scale for kitchen use!
Know what’s in season
Do you want higher-quality, more delicious, larger, and more nutrient-rich produce? Um, who doesn’t? Well, without spending extra or going to some fancy dancy grocery store, you can do this! All you need to do is know what’s in season in your area. One way to find out what’s in season locally, you can check out your farmer’s market to see what’s everywhere this time around. There are also a lot of great guides online that let you know what is in season, and therefore the cream of the crop at the moment. Enjoy these timely eats!
Get creative and have fun
While most of us do need to cook in order to, you know, survive, it shouldn’t feel like a chore! You’re nourishing your body! Cooking should be an act of love. If you’re cooking for others, you’re spreading that love. If you’re cooking for yourself, you’re implementing self-love, and that’s just as magical! Getting creative and having fun can help you feel more connected to the process of cooking and can often help you produce something super tasty. Not all of our meals turn out amazing, but with time and practice (and a good dose of curiosity and creativity) you’ll notice a huge shift in your cooking game, and so will your tastebuds!
Did these cooking tips help? Let us know what other advice you have in the comments!