Best Cooking Tips and Tricks for Guys (and Girls)
Attaining a certain level of confidence in the kitchen is essential to becoming a self-sufficient, modern grown up. Buying take-out each night and eating it on the couch will effect your body, mind or both eventually. Cooking for yourself is quite easy, and encourages you to be mindful of what you are putting in your body. With some simple cooking tips and tricks I’m confident anyone can become a solid cook behind a kitchen.
Of course, the other benefits with gaining some skills in the kitchen is being able to show them off. You don’t need to learn how to put together a fancy roast for Sunday dinner right off the bat, but mastering some basics will empower you, and give you the ability to impress your parents, your friends, colleagues and potential partners. Plus, learning to cook your favorite meal at home will save you money and time, and is an ideal date idea or way to bring friends together.
Here’s how to get started in the kitchen:
1. If You Can Read, You Can Cook
Cooking is not an art, it is a science. It is simple if you follow the instructions carefully and thoroughly. It is important to be precise when cooking. Use measuring cups and spoons as needed, and use timers if you think you might get distracted. While this might seem frustrating, it will save you time in the long run. Measure carefully, time effectively. There is no worse feeling than hunger when you have just burned your dinner!
Awesome Cook Books for Guys!
- Sam the Cooking Guy: Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts
- Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It
- Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys
Find a few recipes you like and start with a simple version of those: a pasta dish, a chicken dish, a stir fry. Learn them and get the basics down, cooking them regularly. Gradually work to refine those dishes, developing the recipe along the way. Get confident with the simple stuff first, and expand upon that knowledge. A good place to start is with a spaghetti bolognese. The basic recipe is very simple to learn, and you can add onion, garlic, peppers, herbs and spices to taste easily while refining ‘your’ recipe.
2. Invest in a Solid Knife Set
Seriously, this shouldn’t be overlooked, get some decent tools. Especially if you’re trying to cook for someone. An impressive Knife Set goes a long way.
It’s ok to have older pots and pans, but for the love of god, get yourself at least one high quality cooking knife. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes, time it saves you and the respect you’ll earn from others in owning a good knife.
I understand that a high quality knife can cost hundreds of dollars, so I included a link to the best bang for buck setup in my opinion. The Cuisinart 15-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set gets you a few high quality knives, a sharpener (important) and a few steak knives. These knife sets are always marketed up by department stores. Check them out at Amazon and buy them from wholesalers and save at least 40%
3. Know which Pan is Best
On the topic of taking your time… before you cook, you must read the recipe in full. It is essential to read your recipe from start to finish, and THEN prep your food. Don’t rush. This way there can be no surprises! Often recipes require you prepare some food in advance, or there might be special equipment required that you don’t have. Be prepared by reading the recipe. Leaving your dish halfway through cooking to run to the store is sure to ruin your appetite! (Ever been hangry?)
4. Rest The Meat
You should know that meat continues to cook when removed from the grill. This is something all meat eaters should all learn early on: meat keeps cooking once you remove it from heat. Take your meat off the grill or out of the oven just a few moments before you think it is perfectly cooked to your liking. It will continue to marinate and cook in its juices.
Why is this the case? Well, meat is muscle, and muscle consists of proteins, fat, vitamins & minerals, and lots of water. Raw beef is about 75 percent water. When meat is cooked, muscle fibers begin to compress and contract. In the book CookWise, author Shirley O. Corriher says that up to 120°F internal temperature, meat proteins shrink in diameter only and there is little moisture loss, but above 120°F the proteins also begin to shrink in length—up to half their original length—which forces moisture it into the spaces between the muscle fibers and toward the surface and center of the meat.
For very lean cuts of meat, by the time it reaches 170°F internal temp, most of the moisture has been squeezed out, rendering them tough and dry.
Huge Cooking Tip: When meat is allowed to rest after cooking, this process is partially reversed.
As the meat fibers begin to relax, moisture that was driven out is redistributed and reabsorbed by some of the dissolved proteins. Rested meat holds on to more of its natural juices—they don’t flood the cutting board when you slice into the meat.
5. Taste On The Go!
You need to taste your food as you cook it! If you are just learning your way around the kitchen, you will also learn how to season your cooking at some stage. It is important to always taste your food as you cook, particularly when using seasonings. Tasting helps you assess what you need more of: salt, pepper, stock, other herbs and spices. Go slowly with all seasonings, and taste test as you add small quantities. It is easy to ruin a dish with too much of something!
A good cooking trick is to find a more complex recipe online as a template, and follow the guidelines they recommend for seasoning.
6. Go Slow and Give Yourself Time
Use your time wisely, both in the kitchen and out. Never rush while you’re cooking. You will likely ruin your food, and you will be hungry! Take it easy and just put one foot in front of the other. Step by step. Outside of the kitchen, if you’re serious about getting a handle on cooking, watch and learn online. Check out Good Eats on Netflix, and Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Cookery Course on YouTube. Explore apps like Yummly and All Recipes for ideas and use them to keep track of recipes you want to try or like the sound of. Develop your repertoire as you gain confidence.
**Bonus Tip: Get a Crock-Pot
A Crock-Pot or slow cooker is extremely simple for making stews, chili’s and all sorts of “Guy Foods”. There are also a ton of recipes on Youtube that show you how to make some really cool Manly foods.
There are a lot of different types of Crock pots, many coming in a wide range of sizes. You don’t want one too small, but the large ones are massive and are complete overkill. Check out Amazon for the best reviews on Crock pots.