Hang on to your pants Kitchen Newbie, because we’re gonna hit the ground running! It’s super tempting to just jump in, skip over the kitchen basics, and hope it works out. I’ve seen this method lead to frustration and sentiments like, “I just can’t cook.” You can. Promise. Most likely, you just need to start back at the beginning and work your way to slamming meals you actually enjoy eating! Consider this Part 1 of how to be a Confident Kitchen Newbie.
This will take practice. And then more practice. Just like no one randomly runs a marathon, no one randomly cooks a delicious meal.
Step 1. Read. And Read Some More.
READ. You learn SO much from reading food related magazines and cookbooks. Especially one’s that break down basics and are focused on actual ingredients and methods, versus trying to sell you gadgets and stuff. One of my all time favorite magazines is Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. I’ve been in the kitchen for years and have found this publication to be everything I didn’t know I needed- simple presentation of information that yields absolutely delicious food. Food from around the world. Backed by history and science. I have YET to been disappointed. Essentially, Milk Street is loaded with the kitchen basics every home cook needs.
No time for kickin it with a magazine or book? Podcast, Audible, YouTube, Netflix. Just to name a few.
Step 2. Ask About Everything.
ASK. Did you just eat something ridiculously delicious? Ask for details on the dish…most hosts or servers are more than happy to hook you up with answers. I ask questions all the time everywhere I go. I have zero shame in asking someone to show me how they made their rice that way. Or, where they found those carrots and how much they cost. Or, chatting with a bar tender about their favorite liquors and why. If you don’t ask no one will tell which only means one thing- you won’t learn.
Step 3. Keep It Simple.
SIMPLE. Start simple. If you have only ever made mac and cheese in the microwave maybe it’s not the best idea to try whipping up an entire Thanksgiving dinner from scratch your first go. There is no easier way to kill enthusiasm, than to set yourself up for failure. Just don’t do it unless you hate yourself. Maybe try making that mac and cheese, or fajitas, from scratch on a random evening when you’ve got some extra time? Not when you are starved or pressed for time. Remember. Set yourself up for success.
Step 4. Cook What You Know.
FAMILIAR FIRST. You’ve never had Thai curry but it looked good so off you go. Mmmmmm… maybe not so much. Stick with what you know. If you know what mac and cheese is “supposed” to taste like, you’ll know you’ve been successfully when you take a bite of the homemade version and it far exceeds expectations. Voila! You have an automatic gauge in which to measure your success! This will help you learn to make adjustments when you branch out and start playing with ingredients you don’t know so well. As you adventure into meals outside of your normal cuisine. You’ll get there. This is not a sprint. Slow and steady win the race on this one folks.
Step 5. Try New To You Foods.
TASTE. Constantly work to expand your palate. Nugs and fries are great and all, but have you ever had Oxtail or Tamales? What about Gnocchi or Chicken Vindaloo Curry? No shame or shade if you haven’t. But, identifying what your current limitations are in the palate department is an important part of learning. Much like a sommelier hones their craft with wine by constantly smelling and tasting, a cook of any kind can only benefit from smelling and tasting dishes from cultures found around the world.
Step 6. Don’t Wait.
THE WAITING GAME. Seriously, there’s no need to wait for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. MAKE an occasion and celebrate it with the same level of passion. Unless you’re the type… don’t try to do all the things solo. Instead, focus on making one really great dish and one really great drink. Because lets face it, you’re also going to have to clean and junk. Ask your people to bring a side dish or dessert or other drinks. You won’t get any pushback. And if you do, well, there’s an easy solution for that. Just don’t invite them again!
Step 7. Be Bold.
FEAR NOT. This one’s probably the most important tidbit of them all. Don’t be afraid to use too much salt or pepper. Don’t be afraid to turn up the heat. Don’t be afraid to fire up the grill. Don’t be afraid to try new. Don’t be afraid that it might not taste good. Don’t ask me how, but I swear food can feel your lack of confidence!!
Just go for it! Remember what you did and how you did it, taking notes if you have to. This way, you can either repeat, enhance, OR never do it that way again. Either way, you’re walking out of this experience with a lesson learned which is a total win. Be bold newbie, be bold! Go on and start with these kitchen basics and you’ll be ready for what comes next!
Being willing to mess up is simply an investment into all the future dishes you will be making. You will end up with foolproof, memorized, easy to bang out meals that you and your people love. Promise.
You are never too advanced or accomplished for this list of 7 kitchen basics! There is ALWAYS something new to taste, read, and try. The kitchen is one of the few places you’re always a student. Which is why I love it so much!
Let Me Know!
Which one of these tips are you ready to implement? Share down below! While you’re at the sharing and commenting, please Save to Pinterest or Share on Facebook. I need all the support I can get to keep on growing this dream of mine. A place where practical beats perfect- and simple, delicious food is a lifestyle. A place where together, we can begin filling homes and tables with joy.
Hugs, because handshakes are awkward~
I love this article. You make cooking so accessible. I’ll have to check out the Milk Magazine.
Tear and thank you. More than anything I hope to make folks feel comfortable in their own kitchens. Which means something slightly different for everyone!! Milk Street is goals. You’ll love them!