Super-Easy Tips for Being a Better Cook
I think it’s fair to say that we can all get stuck in a rut sometimes. I’m talking food and cooking, here, not an actual rut (I think it’s fair to say that hardly any of us get stuck in an actual rut). A typical cooking rut looks something like this:
You’ve spent the last month shifting from pasta meals to rice meals, to weird idiosyncratic meals that only you understand. While most of your pasta and rice meals are tasty enough (some better than others), your weird, idiosyncratic concoction is something that only you could enjoy. And you kinda do, but not that much.
That’s a month, then, of broccoli and cream pasta sauces, tomato-based pasta sauces, garlic and herb pasta sauces, and cheese sauces that are essentially a variation of macaroni cheese. Then there’s your seared chicken rice dish, your fried rice and green vegetable dish, and your homemade vegetarian sushi dish. Which is still mainly rice.
Then there’s the weird idiosyncratic one, which is something you either developed in your university days and somehow just hung on to, or it’s something you picked up from a whacky flatmate, and somehow you saw the virtue in it. This despite its being aesthetically unpleasing, limited in flavour, and the kind of meal that you wouldn’t let anyone else catch you preparing or consuming. We’re talking tuna and frankfurters, canned ravioli and Worcester sauce with cheddar, baked potato with ravioli and tuna with frankfurters and Worcester sauce. That kind of thing.
Well this is your rut, and it’s time to get out of it. Lord knows, if you live with others – perhaps a whole family, babies and baby bibs in tow, with partner, hopefully no in-laws, but you never know – you’ll be thanked for it. So here are our top tips for getting yourself out of the cooking rut:
1. Herbs and spices
If it’s a while since you used some fresh herbs and spices in your cooking, well it’s no wonder that you’ve grown a little bored with it. Herbs and spices are not only packed-full of goodness, they are aromatic, tasty and can help lift an entire dish, bringing out the best in other ingredients. You’ll be less reliant on salt, and you might even start getting excited about certain dishes again. Pair fresh basil (loads of it) with tomato and garlic; dill with new potatoes; tarragon with grilled chicken; rosemary with roast meals; oregano with red meats; and coriander with steamed vegetables. Yum!
2. Get sharper
If you’re preparing meals with blunt knives – perhaps you only have one you can rely on – stained chopping boards, sticking pans, burnt spatulas, it’s high time you bought yourself some decent equipment. To cook better you need to start enjoying the act of cooking. Preparing meals with old, shoddy equipment is a real downer. So treat yourself to a set of quality, sharp knives and all the rest, and you’ll be much more happy as you spend an hour or so carefully cultivating a tasty treat.
3. Plan ahead
If you only have a few baking potatoes, baked beans and cheese knocking about, that’s all you’re going to eat. So think carefully about the week ahead, know two or three specific meals that you’ll make, and the rest you can improvise. Make sure you have plenty of onions and garlic and herbs and meats and vegetables. Familiarise yourself with some of your old favourite recipe books, turn on some music, open a bottle of red, and get cooking!