Many home cooks spend at least two hours in the kitchen each day. That’s over 700 hours per year! What if there were skills that you could learn that would reduce the amount of time you spend preparing meals? Would you learn them?
My answer was yes. I read a few books, watched a few videos and practiced what I was learning while preparing meals. The results were even better than I had hoped for. Our meals were far better, and I was spending less time in the kitchen making them! I developed an efficient kitchen, an enviable pantry and a lower annual grocery bill. And I was finally able to satisfy my in-house version of Gordon Ramsay.
Here are eight of the skills that I recommend every home cook learn. They really do make a significant difference.
Cut Fruits and Vegetables the Right Way
That’s right. There are correct ways to cut your fruit and veggies depending on how they will be used in your recipe. Once you know the correct techniques you’ll be slicing, dicing and chopping like a pro in no time. They say practice makes perfect and this is one of those skills you can practice often! How to Cut Fruits and Vegetables the Right Way by Style Caster & Peeling, Cutting, & Dicing: 20 Tips & Techniques for Fruit and Vegetable Prep by the Kitchn are two great resources that you’ll want to read and bookmark. You can also learn from the master Gordon Ramsay. He’s got video tutorials on how to master everyday kitchen skills. You can also get his ultimate cookery course in book format. How do you chop your onions?
Slice Meat Properly
There is a correct way to slice meat and getting it right will make a big difference in just how much people enjoy the meat you serve. A properly prepared roast is important but even a great cut of meat, cooked to perfection, needs to be sliced against the grain. It took me a little while to learn how to do this correctly but this article by Serious Eats was the one that got me on the right track! If you are interested in learning how to cook meat to perfection Cooks Illustrated has a great book!
Cook the Perfect Omelette
Eggs are the perfect ingredient. They are inexpensive, nutrient/protein rich and convenient. Regardless of whether you like them scramble or fried, hard boiled, or poached, you can’t do better than learning from the famous French chef and master of eggs, Jaques Pepin. The first time my husband made me a proper french style omelette I almost passed out. In addition to watching the videos you can also find a paperback copy of his book “Jacques Pépin’s Complete Techniques” for around $5. Furthermore, this instructional guide from Incredible Egg provides detailed instructions with photos. It’s really easy to follow: guide to cooking a great omelette.
Break Down a Whole Chicken
Purchasing whole chickens gives you the best bang for your buck. You get a whole lot more out of the deal and the price per pound is lower. It’s really easy to break down a whole chicken into breasts, thighs, wings, legs. With what’s left you make broth & stock. This video ‘How to Butcher a Whole Chicken‘ explains it really well.
Choose the Right Knife for the Job
The chef knife can be used for a lot of food prep but it’s still important to know which knife is best for each job. A lot of people use too small of a knife (or too dull) which is actually far more dangerous that a sharp properly sized kitchen knife. Yuppie Chef offers a great guide on how to chose the right knife and I’ve pinned this handy info-graphic for you as well.
Of course you don’t need ultra expensive knives to get the job done. In fact, you don’t need to buy a full set. We own some fairly pricey knives but surprisingly prefer the less expensive Victorinox knives. A good Victorinox chef’s knife is around $50 and will last decades if treated properly.
Knives That You Actually Need
Hone or Sharpen kitchen Knives
Stock a Pantry
A well stocked pantry will save you time and money. Take the time to learn the best tricks and you’ll never run short of ingredients. We’ve written some great articles that offer tips on how to keep a well stocked pantry: How to Eat Healthy on a Budget , How to Stock a Pantry like a Pro and A Homesteader’s Well Stocked Pantry.
Make A Salad Dressing
Learn how to whip up salad dressings or marinades in minutes. Surprisingly, you need just two ingredients: oil and vinegar. These ingredients form the basis for a multitude of dressings and marinades. In order to master this you’ll need a recipe template like this: Easy Two Minute Salad Dressing. Once you’ve made your own you’ll never go back to store bought!
These skills are fun and easy to learn. It will not happen in an instant (nothing worthwhile does), but each new skill you learn can be immediately tested, and the results seen and tasted. It’s an enjoyable journey, one that provides immediate benefits to you and your loved ones. These skills age well. They build upon each other. And they are the foundational skills that will have you cooking like a pro in less time than you would think. Get cracking!