First Time Chef

First Time Chef

You’re better than a boiled egg!

I don’t know about you, but I will never be the next Martha Stewart in the kitchen, and with the stay at home orders during COVID, this became painfully clear. You can make quite a few meals with a microwave, but it was time to step up my game. Are you in the same boat? Whether you are just starting out or have tried cooking for years with less-than-favorable results, I have some tips for you to make cooking a breeze! These will impress your family and get you ready to host dinner parties for of your friends when the pandemic is over.

Find easy recipes to become a whiz in the kitchen and create those perfect family meals

Cooking Made Easy

Cooking meals when first starting out can be difficult due to the variety of pots, pans and tools you need. Do you know the difference between a sauté pan and a braiser pan? Do you have a French oven and a wok in your cabinets? Purchasing everything can get expensive, and then you also need a place to store it! If you have a kitchen with plenty of organized storage space, I envy you (you lucky duck!), but for the rest of us, outfitting our kitchens with every cooking mechanism may not be practical. Plus, think of all the dishes!!!

his is where “one pot” meals come in handy. They cut down on what you need, the dishes you make, and are much easier to cook. There are a few different ways of cooking that I would call “one pot” meals:

Sheet Pan – From breakfast to dessert, there are so many options for sheet pan cooking. Depending on the recipe, you prep the ingredients as needed, place them all on the pan, and then bake. When done, you have an entire meal ready. Check out these easy recipes.

One Pot – One pot meals range from baked casseroles to stove-top stir-fry and everything in between. Whether baking or cooking, these meals are also easy and delicious. Check out some recipes here.

Crock Pot – This is my favorite method. Prep your ingredients, throw everything into the pot, then walk away for a few hours. When you come pack, you’ll have an amazing and flavorful meal waiting for you. Crock pots can also be used as part of your meal prepping for the week. Throw in some chicken breast with the seasoning of your choice so you have protein on hand all week to add to your salad, rice, and tacos. Crock pots are often associated with soups and other winter classics, but I use this puppy year-round. Check out some summer recipes here.

Spice Mix-ups

My next suggestion is about spices. Similar to pots and pans, these can add up quickly and take up space. I’ll try out a recipe that calls for cardamom, and now it is permanently in my cupboard. I don’t have that natural talent to wing it when it comes to mixing spices, so until I come across another recipe calling for cardamom, that’s where is will stay. When following a specific recipe, I will still get the exact spices it uses. Sometimes, though, you need to break free from recipes, or you need to go grocery shopping and are trying to create a meal with whatever you have left, or you’re just cooking a basic chicken breast or hamburger but want to add some flavor. In these scenarios, I do not reach for the individual spices and pretend I know what I’m doing. Instead, it’s all about the blends! Get an Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, taco seasoning, adobo, basil pesto, scampi, etc. These pre-mixed spices make it easier to cook without a specific recipe to follow along. They can also help save money and (that oh-so-precious) cabinet space by eliminating the need to have every individual spice. My favorite blend is Wildtree’s Rancher Steak Rub – I literally put this on everything.

Conversion Cheat Sheets

My last two tips deal with conversions. When following a recipe, you may need more or less than what it yields. Here are easy cheat sheets for cutting a recipe in half, as well as showing measuring equivalents to help you out. Click on the images for a printable PDF.

How to Cut a Recipe in Half Cooking Measurement Conversions

My Favorite Recipe to Cook

Now that I’ve shared a few tips to help you improve your cooking game, let me leave you with my favorite recipe. Using a crockpot, you can make a delicious pot roast meal and impress your family. Click here for a printable recipe card.

Pot Roast Dinner
  • Chuck Roast
  • Potatoes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Sear the sides of the chuck roast.
  2. Chop garlic and place on roast.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper (or any other spice blend of your choice).
  4. Place roast flat in crock pot.
  5. Cut potatoes into 2” cubes.
  6. Add carrots and potatoes around roast in crock pot.
  7. Add 1 cup or water to the pot, careful not to pour directly over the roast and wash off spices.
  8. Cook on high for 4 hours (cooking time may vary depending on roast size).
  9. Ladle out all ingredients onto a serving tray and enjoy!

You’ve Got This!

You’re now ready to graduate beyond boiled eggs and ramen and become a wiz in the kitchen! When you’re not cooking up a storm, keep the room spotless and organized with these items. Make sure to also check out our Organizing Small Appliances blog for more storage inspiration.

Metal Pot & Pan Organizer Rack for Kitchen Cabinet 3 Tier Expandable Kitchen Spice Rack Organizer Expandable Plastic Kitchen Drawer Storage Cutlery Tray Expandable Metal Kitchen Pantry Storage Shelf Kitchen Towel Set in Striped Pattern Airtight Kitchen Pantry Food Storage Bin Boxes

Check out our full Cooking blog series for more inspiration.

Chelsea McCulley is the Digital Asset Manager at mDesign
and an avid reader and Jane Austen fan.

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Posted: Aug 7, 2020