Going out for dinner takes a lot of pressure off of you, the consumer of the meal. Weighed against cooking at home, going out to dinner means no cooking, no cleanup, no time spent cooking and table service. When it’s put this way, it seems like dining out should be the unquestionably better choice here.
But sometimes cooking a nice dinner at home is just a better option. Maybe you don’t feel like spending money on dinner one night, or maybe you just want to hone in your cooking craft. After all, anyone can pay for a meal cooked for them, but not everyone can actually put in the work and cook one themselves. Plating a beautiful and delicious dinner yourself is a sense of pride and accomplishment second only to the satisfaction you get from devouring it.
But not everyone can cook a dinner or prepare a dish as well as what you’d get from a restaurant. If you’re one of the people who falls into this category, consider these four tips.
Read the recipe All the Way Before You Start
There is nothing quite as disheartening than getting two thirds of the way through a recipe and then realizing that you lack a fundamental ingredient, or come up a little short in quantity. Rather than forcing yourself to rush to the grocery store for another stick of butter or onion, jeopardizing the entire meal, sit down the night before and read through the recipe.
Why the night before? It’s simple: some recipes require that you let something sit overnight before cooking. While this may seem to be an entirely skippable step, it’s not. If a recipe calls for something to marinate overnight, you’ll want to let it marinate overnight. This is particularly true of tougher cuts of meat, as marinating overnight facilitates the breakdown of muscle fibers and allows for a juicier steak the next day.
Buy Nice Cutlery
The difference between a good knife and a bad knife could be the difference between having two thumbs and having one. The better the cutlery you own, the sharper your knives are, the safer you’ll be when using them. Theoretically, this sounds counter intuitive; a sharper knife however ensures that you’ll have to apply less pressure to cut your food than a you would have to with a duller knife. A sharper knife makes for easier cuts and less slipping and fumbling with your foods.
Cast Iron is Your Friend
Cast Iron skillets can be a lifesaver and make cooking much easier and much higher quality. Cast iron skillets are fairly cheap and last almost forever. They’re durable and can withstand higher levels of heat than standard glass or cookware. They’re also fantastic for heat distribution, and the “seasoning” aspect of cast iron means they don’t need to be washed with soap. They’re also non-stick by nature and incredibly versatile, you can cook anything from scrambled eggs to biscuits and gravy, all the way to baking a cake!
Practice, then Tweak
While you’re still homing in your cooking skills, follow recipes. It may seem too “standard” or “unoriginal” to simply follow a recipe you found online or in your cookbook, but following advice of the professionals to a T will guarantee good results at first. Then, when you’ve mastered the recipes you should begin experimenting with tweaking them to meet your specific taste.