10 Ways to Amp Up Your Game in the Kitchen

Hungry to become a culinary all-star? Getting crafty in the kitchen has never been easier.

Since the dawn of human existence, sustenance has been a priority, from hunting and foraging to preparation and consumption.  The pleasure associated with food has led the way for the emergence of a global industry teeming with restaurants, celebrity chef culture, packaged goods, ready-to-eat consumables, and more. There are so many ways to let someone else cook for us, it’s all too easy to forget—or never even begin to experience—the joys of cooking for ourselves and those around us. 

Knowing one’s way around the kitchen isn’t only a functional skill set; it’s also a fashionable one, impressing anyone who wanders into our homes and treats themselves to the fruits of our culinary prowess. So, read on for our top 10 pointers on how to amp up your game in the kitchen, delighting all who enter—including yourself. 

1. Cook with confidence.

Every journey begins with just one step, as the saying goes, and whether your soufflé recipe is just a little rusty or you’ve never even made toast, you’ve got to start somewhere. Some of the best foods are also the simplest, so don’t allow yourself to be intimidated out of trying. You can start small with a three-ingredient dish you’ve loved since childhood or go big with a more ambitious project. Either way, you’re establishing (or re-establishing) a habit that will serve you well in the future. So what if it isn’t perfect the first time? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 

2. Get organized.

It doesn’t matter if you’re compulsively neat or comfortably unkempt—keeping your kitchen in order can make cooking easier. If you keep up with expiration dates in your fridge, you’ll never have to make a last-minute milk run, and if you organize your cabinets, you can spare yourself those frantic searches in which you turn your spice drawer upside down looking for that one elusive ingredient. 

3. Pay attention to portions.

Particularly if you’re new to spending lots of time in the kitchen, it can be a challenge to buy and cook the right amount of food without going overboard. This can result in food waste, and especially if you’re cooking for one or two, a meal prep delivery service like Home Chef might be exactly what you need. By measuring out your ingredients for you beforehand, the process saves you from tossing out food you don’t eat, and from a nutritional perspective, you can make sure you’re getting just what you need from your meals.  

4. Taste as you go.

Don’t be afraid to savor your food as you’re preparing it. Sure, you’ll want to wait for your meat to cook fully before you give it a try, but why not enjoy yourself as you brown your fresh vegetables, fluff your spiced ancient grains or boil your favorite pasta to a perfect al dente? Checking in along the way can help you season everything just to taste and develop a sixth sense over time about what works for you and what doesn’t, from spice level and to salt. Sipping a glass of wine can also help you relax as you cook, turning up the joie de vivre and allowing you the pleasure of appreciating the moment while you’re in it. 

5. Be playful.

Some people like to start simple and perfect one thing at a time before moving on to the next. But others prefer to mix it up a little and try on all sorts of flavor combinations, keeping things fresh and interesting in the kitchen. Both types of cooks can enjoy the variety and consistency of a meal kit subscription, since the right service will allow you to switch things up as often as you’d like. Home Chef offers 14 different meals weekly, so you know you’ll never be bored.

6. This is your meditation.

There’s something calming about stepping away from our ever-present screens and engaging in a singular activity—one in which we get to focus squarely on just one thing. When that activity involves the creation of something, it can bring us to a place of calmness and contentment. Allow yourself to be fully present as you prepare your meal, and think of it as downtime for your soul. Just like musicians, artists and writers can get into a state of flow with their work, you can do the same over the stove.  We love Home Chef because it rids mealtime of the stress of decision making—everything you need is in one spot! Lean into the meditative powers of cooking and let it work wonders on your stress level, relaxing your way into a delicious meal at the end. What’s better than that?

7. Make it a date. 

When we cook with other people, it’s not just a fun activity with an element of bonding thrown in; we can actually learn from one another. Whether we realize it or not, we each have our own way of handling food, cutting produce, arranging things in a pot, and so on, and when we observe other people alongside us, we can pick up different ways of doing things, sometimes for the better.

There’s also a sort of alchemy that takes place when people cook together; the act of making a meal as a group can help us forge connections we may never otherwise have made. And the best part is, we get to raise a toast and break bread together once we’re through. 

8. Build a repertoire. 

The more comfortable you become in the kitchen, the easier it is to try new recipes. Make notes of the things you like or the dishes that go over really well with your friends and family members. Notice patterns. Is there a spice, or cuisine that you’re particularly fond of? Do you find that grilling vegetables is your calling? Eventually, you’ll have a huge collection of go-to favorites for every occasion. If you’re short on time, Home Chef removes the stress of having to bury your head in cooking blogs and recipes books so that you can focus on that task at hand—making some delicious meals.

9. Get creative.

You know that great Chinese takeout place around the corner, those falafel wraps you pick up for lunch all the time at that Mediterranean spot, and that cacio e pepe you love at your local date night spot? You may not be able to recreate them to a T, but you can certainly experiment with flavors from all around the world without ever leaving your home. From chili-rubbed pork chops to Vietnamese-style steak, Home Chef offers tasty treats from all over the world. 

10. Level up. 

No matter where you started on the culinary learning curve, you’ll likely come a long way after just a few weeks of consistent meal prep at home. Make a vow to challenge yourself and up your game as time goes by, leveling up with each meal. What’s something you never imagined yourself cooking? Give it a try and admire your newfound skills.  

Inspired yet? If you’re crunched for time, worried about food waste, or just plain don’t know where to start, check out customizable meal plans from our friends at Home Chef. (Psst… They love us so much they’re even giving our readers $30 off their first order. Score!)