The key to building your confidence in the kitchen is to relax and enjoy yourself. Of course, this is an easy thing to say, but not so easy to follow when you are stressed out and close to tears – and you haven’t even started chopping the onions yet!
#1 Start Small When You Are Learning to Cook
It can be tempting to go out and buy a big recipe book, and then tackle one of the recipes in it to prepare a romantic dinner for your boyfriend, or a slap up lunch for your friend or family. The problem is that you are setting your expectations of yourself too high.
If you are not used to cooking, or at least not used to having success in the kitchen, then it won’t matter if you have everything set out step by step in a recipe book with ingredients lists, instructions and pictures – when everything is happening at once, the stress is going to get the better of you, and the smallest of hiccups can make the whole dinner go wrong, simply because you will panic and make a great big confused mess of it all.
The only way to avoid this is to either get your self a helper who is already confident in the kitchen, or start with something very simple. You can still prepare an impressive meal without spending a lot of time cooking it. So go for a dish that takes less than thirty minutes to prepare, and has less than five ingredients.
#2 Cook Without Really “Cooking”
Believe it or not, you can prepare a rather posh salad as a main meal, and call it “cooking.” Why not introduce yourself to your kitchen slowly and start by perfecting as many main meal salad dinners as you can? Experiment with different ways of chopping, slicing and presenting your salads. For example:
- Try using a peeler to slice your raw carrots into thin ribbons
- Introduce different flavours like raw fennel, different herbs and even sweet fruits!
- Add seeds to give your salad some good nutritional content, or serve with toasted bread and hummus or sundried tomatoes.
- Mix cold salad with a warm element – like grilled halloumi, or warm chicken cut into strips and tossed in a wok until cooked.
#3 Organization Is Key
When you feel you are ready to tackle more complicated dishes that require using your oven, microwave and maybe one or two rings on the hob, the key to keeping everything under control is to be well-organized.
Follow these tips to keep the stress at bay:
- Prepare as much as you can before you start any cooking – this means do the entire shopping, chopping and planning first!
- Make sure that you are not going to be disturbed while you are cooking – turn off your phone and put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the kitchen door.
- Make sure that you have all the correct equipment before you start, and that your knife is nice and sharp, so that you don’t end up getting stressed out when you can’t chop your vegetables.
- Make sure you can see a clock.
- Wash up as you go to avoid turning your kitchen into a chaotic stress zone.
#4 If You Are Using A Recipe, Stick To It!
Many people tend to have more failure in the kitchen because they get a bit too creative. If you are following a recipe, those measurements are there for a reason! Don’t think that an extra pinch of this and substituting this for that is going to cut it if you’re not experienced in the kitchen. It is always best to follow the recipe, even if you have doubts, and then adjust the recipe next time when you have something to compare the results with!
#5 Practice Makes Perfect
If you fail miserably at making your spag bol – don’t give up! Practice that dish until you perfect it – even if it means that you have to eat spaghetti bolognaise every weekend for the next month. It will only get better. And once you have at least one staple dish under your belt, you will have the confidence to branch out into similar dishes. For example, lasagna, chili con carne, then maybe even curries?
The more you practice the same dishes on friends and family, the more feedback you will get, too. For example, perhaps you are overdoing the salt or garlic?
It can be easier for other people to spot the simple mistakes you are making – and it might just be something as simple as not putting enough salt in a dish, or not cooking your pasta for long enough, that is making your cooking flop.
#6 Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
The main thing about building your confidence in the kitchen and becoming a kitchen goddess is to show that you are having fun rather than slaving away behind a hot stove and feeling irritable and overworked!
Always serve your dishes with a smile; sometimes it can make a real difference. Your meal may not be the best a guest has ever tasted, but if you are a good hostess, they will want to come back for more because they enjoyed the experience as a whole.
- Check what your guests can and cannot eat
- Always have alternatives ready in case it all goes wrong
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the kitchen
- Try something new, but only when you have perfected what is familiar
- If you want to be fancy, be fancy with the starter, rather than the main meal as it will cause you less stress. If it goes wrong, you still have your main meal to enjoy.
- Pick a dish that you want to be known for, and practice it until you make it your own! Add secret ingredients and have fun. Then you will always have something foolproof to fall back on when you have to prepare a big meal.
Share Your Secret Cooking Tips
Everyone has their own secret tricks or ingredients that adds a little something special to well known dishes. Help your fellow queens out and share your ideas in the comments below.
Cover photo: www.weheartit.com