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Learning to cook

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Key Points:

  1. Our recipes are very easy to follow. You don't really need to specifically learn how to cook. But it's still a nice skill to have.

  2. WikiHow is a very good source to learn a skill. But one issue is there are also lots of quite similar and mediocre articles. You still need to take some time to find what you need. We only pick the best article available for your convenience.

According to Wikipedia, "Cooking, cookery, or culinary arts is the art, science and craft of using heat to prepare food for consumption. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely, from grilling food over an open fire to using electric stoves, to baking in various types of ovens, reflecting local conditions."

Here we quote the best way to learn cooking provided by wikiHow, a wiki that is building the world's largest and highest quality how-to manual. Please edit the articles and find author credits at the original wikiHow articles on How to Learn Cooking by Yourself. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Cooking is a fundamental life skill. Basic cooking skills are very easy to learn. After learning some basic skills, you can follow our best recipes from Health Canada to cook you own healthy and delicious meals.

Ordering takeout or tossing a premade frozen dinner in the oven may be quick and convenient, but there’s something special about being able to cook your own meal. Plus, foods you make yourself are almost always healthier and more wholesome than processed or prepackaged foods. If learning to cook seems intimidating, don’t worry! You don’t need fancy equipment or lots of experience to make good food. Once you master a few simple techniques, you’ll be able to create all kinds of tasty dishes.

Method 1: Trying Basic Cooking Techniques

  1. Toss chopped veggies in olive oil and roast them at 425 °F (218 °C). Roasting is an easy, healthy, and delicious way to cook just about any vegetable. Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut vegetables into bite-sized pieces, put them in a bowl, then coat them in 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of a healthy vegetable oil, such as olive, canola, or sesame. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, then spread them on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven until you can easily pierce them with a fork and they’re slightly browned or charred around the edges.

  2. Cook meats in the oven for a flavorful and tender result. You can cook almost any cut of meat in the oven. Preheat your oven to the recommended cooking temperature for about 20 minutes while your meat sits at room temperature to ensure even cooking. Season the outside of the meat with plenty of salt and pepper and set it in a wide roasting pan, preferably on a rack or a bed of vegetables. 30 minutes before your recipe says the meat is supposed to be ready, use a meat thermometer to see if it’s reached a safe internal temperature.

  3. Stir fry proteins and veggies in a skillet for a quick stovetop meal. Stir fries are some of the most versatile and simple meals you can make. Cut some meat or tofu into bite-sized chunks and toss it into a skillet or wok at medium-high heat with convert 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of vegetable oil. Brown the meat (or cook it through, if it’s chicken, pork, or shrimp) and set it aside. Cook some chopped-up vegetables in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then return the meat to the pan and cover it with broth or sauce. Take it off the heat after 1 more minute, or once the sauce is bubbling hot!

  4. Simmer brown rice for 45 minutes if you want a simple side. To make simple brown rice, put 1 cup (about 180 grams) of rice in a strainer and rinse it with cool water to remove dust. Put the rice in a pan with 2 cups (470 mL) of water and 1 teaspoon (4.16 g) of salt, then bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, tightly cover the pot, and let the rice simmer for 45 minutes without stirring or checking on it. After 45 minutes, the water should be absorbed and your rice should be tender. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit with the cover on for 10-15 minutes.

  5. Boil veggies in stock or broth to make a simple soup. If you have a lot of stray vegetables in your fridge or pantry, you can easily turn them into a comforting and nutritious soup. Dice up the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Sauté hard veggies, like carrots, potatoes, or cauliflower, in a frying pan with a little butter or olive oil to soften them a little and bring out their flavor. Then, bring some broth or stock to a boil, add the veggies, and turn down the heat. Let your soup simmer for about an hour or until the veggies are nice and tender.

  6. Steam vegetables to preserve their texture and nutrients. Steaming is an easy way to make tender, tasty vegetables without boiling away all the vitamins and minerals. Pour 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm) of water into the bottom of a stovetop steamer and put it on the stove at medium-high heat until it boils. Reduce the heat so the water goes down to a simmer (just bubbling slightly), then place your vegetables in the top part of the steamer and put on the lid. After a few minutes, check to see if you can easily pierce your veggies with a fork. Most vegetables will be ready within 5-10 minutes.

  7. Experiment with different seasonings to add flavor. The right seasonings can take even the simplest dish from okay to amazing. As you get more comfortable with basic cooking techniques, move beyond the basics of salt and black pepper and try a variety of other herbs, spices, aromatics, and other flavor-boosters.

  8. Move on to fancier techniques once you master the basics. Understanding basic cooking techniques will give you a solid foundation for the harder stuff. Once you know how to do things like sauté veggies, roast a chicken, or make a stew, start getting outside your comfort zone a bit. Choose something you’ve always wanted to try, like baking bread, creating delicious sauces, or even making candy.

Method 2: Working with Recipes

  1. Start with simple recipes that have few ingredients. There are endless recipes online and in cookbooks, so picking one to start with can feel intimidating. If you’re just learning to cook, start with basic recipes that don’t require lots of ingredients or fancy equipment. Pick up a cookbook for beginners or search for recipes online using terms like "quick," "easy," and "basic."

  2. Read the recipe a few times so you know what to expect. Before you actually start cooking, take some time to familiarize yourself with the steps involved and the materials you’ll need. That way, you won’t encounter any unpleasant surprises partway through the cooking process. This is also a good time to look up any unfamiliar cooking terms in the recipe.

  3. Get your materials together before you start. If you’re running around in a panic trying to find a utensil or ingredient partway through the cooking process, you’re not going to have the greatest cooking experience. Before you begin cooking, review the recipe carefully and make sure you have everything you’re going to need ready to go.

  4. Follow instructions carefully when you’re starting out. As you get more experienced in the kitchen, you’ll develop a stronger instinct for what works and what doesn’t, and you can start improvising more freely. When you’re new to cooking, though, it’s a good idea to follow recipes closely so you get the proportions of ingredients right and avoid over- or under-cooking your dishes.

  5. Use measuring cups and spoons to measure ingredients. Eventually, you’ll probably get comfortable enough with cooking to "eyeball" how much of a particular ingredient you need. When you’re still learning, though, don’t leave it to chance. If a recipe calls for a cup of flour or 5 ml of almond extract, use a measuring cup or spoon to get the right amount.

  6. Look up substitutions if you’re missing an ingredient. If you get partway through a recipe and discover that you’re missing a key ingredient, don’t panic! It’s often possible to substitute one ingredient for another. Many cookbooks have an appendix listing common substitutions, or you can search online for substitutions for a specific ingredient.

Method 3: Building Healthy, Balanced Meals

  1. Pick out good, fresh ingredients for the best results. The ingredients you put into your meals can make a big difference in the quality of your dishes. In addition to selecting ingredients that you think will combine in fun and flavorful ways, look for ingredients that are fresh and appear to be in good condition. Avoid vegetables that are wilted, slimy, or squishy, and stick to meats that have a healthy looking color and a mild, pleasant odor.

  2. Focus on fruits and veggies to load up on fiber and vitamins. One of the big advantages of cooking your own meals is that you can control the nutrients you’re getting. To create a healthy meal, aim to fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables. If you’re not a big fruit and veggie fan, this is your chance to experiment with cooking them in ways that make them more tasty and interesting to you!

  3. Incorporate whole grains into your meals to boost your energy. Whole grains are full of healthy fiber, and they also give you the complex carbs you need to power your body. Look for breads, pastas, cereals, and sides that are labeled "100% whole grain" or "100% whole wheat," and incorporate these nutritious foods into every meal.

  4. Add lean proteins to boost heart and muscle health. Proteins are another important part of your daily diet, but not all proteins are created equal. To cook healthy meals, stick to nutritious sources of protein like chicken and turkey, fish, beans, nuts and seeds, dairy, and eggs. Limit red meats, like beef and lamb, and try to stick to lean cuts when you do eat them.

  5. Cook with healthy fats to boost your energy and manage your weight. Fat has a bit of a bad reputation, but it’s actually an important part of a healthy diet! It’s important to choose the right fats, though. Avoid cooking your foods in trans or unsaturated fats, like margarine, lard, shortening, or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Instead, opt for healthy oils, like olive, canola, peanut, or sesame oil.

  6. Avoid processed ingredients to minimize empty calories. If you’re cooking your own meals, you’re doing a lot of this already. Still, you can create even more nutritious and wholesome meals by avoiding ingredients that have lots of additives or have been overly processed.

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