As you begin your MyWW Journey, you may realize that cooking for yourself is the best way to control your portions and points. However, there are very few people who just instinctively know how to cook. Don't let that discourage you! Everyone had to start somewhere.
Basic Cooking for your MyWW Journey
Education is the best way to get started when you want to learn how to cook for weight loss. Even professional, trained chefs still go to classes to learn new techniques and recipes! Are you completely new to cooking? Perhaps you love to cook, but are struggling with cooking healthier meals? Never fear! This guide will help you learn basic cooking for healthier meals.
Learn Cooking Terminology
Have you ever looked at a step in a recipe and ere confused by one of the terms used? With the wide variety of cooking and food preparation methods, it can feel overwhelming to read words like “al dente”, “julienne” or “chiffonade”. The Spruce Eats has a great post with a more complete list of culinary terms. Here are a few common terms to start with:
- Al dente – “to the tooth”, usually referring to pasta that is cooked so that it is still slightly tough when bitten.
- Blanching – plunge into boiling water for a short time and then removed to be plunged into iced water to stop the cooking process.
- Braising – to sear food at high temperatures and finish cooking in a covered pot at low temperatures with some liquid in the pot.
- Chiffonade – shredded or finely cut vegetables and herbs
- Deglaze – to remove and dissolve the browned food residue on a pan with liquid to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.
- Mirepoix – a combination of chopped carrots, celery and onions used as a base for stocks, sauces and soups.
- Sautéing – cooking food in a pan quickly over high heat.
- Tempering – raising the temperature of a cold or room-temperature ingredient by slowly adding hot or boiling liquid, often referring to eggs
Keep It Simple
Another piece of advice I can give you is to start with recipes that have less than 6 ingredients or that can be made in under a half hour. The simpler the recipe is, the more confidence you will start to have in the kitchen. As you feel more comfortable preparing dishes, look for longer recipes with either more ingredients and more steps. You'll find that the more you start cooking, the more you will expand your ‘repertoire’ of recipes to work into your meal planning rotation.
I love recipes that have a short list of ingredients. Try one of these recipes to start with!
- Maple-Balsamic Pork Chops
- One Pan Rosemary Lemon Chicken
- Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps
- Honey Dijon White Bean Hummus Dip
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Basic Cooking is a Foundation for Learning!
The best part about learning how to cook is that it is equivalent to building blocks. Once you know the basics of a good recipe, you can build upon it to make it even better than before. The good news is that once you’ve learned the basics of cooking it is unlikely that you will ever need to relearn them. This means that you can constantly build up and expand your cooking skills. As you learn new recipes and improve your culinary skills and talents you will discover that preparing your own meals from scratch is much more rewarding than preparing prepackaged meals that are purchased from the shelves of your local supermarkets.
Have Confidence and Be Creative
You will also discover as your experience and confidence grows that you will find yourself more and more often improvising as you go and adjusting recipes to meet your personal preferences. If you prefer more or less of ingredients or want to make a recipe a little more or less spicy in flavor you can make simple adjustments along the way in order to achieve this goal.
In other words, you will begin in time to create recipes of your very own. And that is something you won’t necessarily learn when it comes to basic cooking skills for beginners but you would never learn if you didn’t master those basic cooking skills.
Use The Right Tools
Far too often people overlook the importance of using the proper tools when cooking fine meals. While there is nothing in the world that can quite compare to cooking with the finest and freshest of ingredients, these things can only be enhanced by making use of the perfect tools for the job at hand.
Pots, Pans and Skillets
No matter what kind of dish you are making, having the right pots, pans and skillets to cook in is important. You should select a set that conducts heat well and has the quality to last for a while. When it comes to pots and pans and skillets you should keep in mind that conductivity is of extreme importance. You should also select pots and pans that are made of a heavier gauge. This allows your pans to heat evenly avoiding hot spots, which can lead to food that may ‘stick’ to your pan or scorch during the cooking process. This means that simply stopping in at your local mass-market retailer and purchasing any old set of pots and pans is probably not the best course of action for the best possible quality in your kitchen.
Kitchen knives are also important ingredients in the kitchens of today. If you plan to prepare many meals in your kitchen, then the quality of your knives is of the utmost importance. Your knives are an investment you shouldn’t have to make too often in your lifetime. For this reason, select a really good set and be prepared to make a sizeable investment in your knives. You will never understand unless you’ve tried to prepare foods with knives of inferior quality, just how important it is to purchase good quality and well-balanced knives for your kitchen. You should also try the handles in your hand to see how comfortable they feel before purchasing a set of knives. If you do a lot of chopping and cutting during your meal preparation and cooking you will want to make sure that the knives you are using feel comfortable in your hands.
If you are like me and plan on cooking a great deal of meat then you should also invest in a jacquard. This useful tool helps not only when it comes to tenderizing rather rough and tumble cuts of meat but also pierces the surface so that rubs and marinades can penetrate for a more flavorful experience. This is by far one of my favorite kitchen gadgets and it isn’t a sizeable investment for the added value it provides to meals.
A good quality grater is another tool that no kitchen should be complete without. There are many who feel that with all the pre-shredded cheese products on the market today this tool is obsolete but nothing could be further from the truth. First of all, pre-grated and pre-packaged cheese simply doesn’t touch the quality of flavor that freshly grated cheese provides. Second, cheese isn’t the only thing that these graters are useful for grating. Graters are excellent tools for grating citrus fruits, spices, garlic, chocolate, and even onions. If you do a good deal of baking in addition to your cooking you should not overlook the value of having a quality grater in your kitchen.