10 Cooking Tips Every Beginning Chef Needs to Know

Nutrition experts often recommend cooking at home rather than eating out (or ordering takeout) to improve the quality of your diet and help you maintain a healthy weight. But research shows that eating at home doesn't mean you should get an A+ on your diet.

In fact, a June 2016 study of nutritional research and practices among nearly 5,000 adults concluded that you need to adopt healthy cooking methods and use high-quality, nutritious ingredients to make a difference in your homemade meals.

If you're better at opening tables in the kitchen yourself, now is the time to get into the kitchen and learn how to cook for everyone. Starting with these tips will not only give you control over what you eat, but it will also help you eat healthier so you can stay healthy in the long run.

1. buy a good knife

As a chef, one or more bar chef knives can be called your closest companion in the kitchen.

Of course, in addition to a quality knife, you will benefit from some basic knife skills. You will be able to flex your fingers and speed up the time it takes to prepare food. Plus, cutting your dishes into consistent sizes will ensure that they cook evenly, which will make your dishes better.

For tips on sharpening your knives, see "The Proper Way to Sharpen Knives and Tips Illustrated" or ask a friend who is an accomplished chef. Then practice, practice, practice, until you feel more comfortable with your knife.

10 Cooking Tips Every Beginning Chef Needs to Know

2. invest in quality cookware

You can get a cheap set of pans at your local discount store, but if they're thin and don't work well, they won't heat evenly and may affect the quality of your meal.

Invest in a reliable, heavy set of pans. Have a larger frying pan, a deep cooking pot, a sauté pan and a stockpot for cooking pasta and chili. You can even save some cash if you buy cookware in bulk.

A cast iron skillet is also a must, as it has many different uses.

Other cookware you might like includes baking pans, rice cookers and woks.

10 Cooking Tips Every Beginning Chef Needs to Know

3. boiled in water

Poaching is one of the chef's favorite ways to prepare healthy, tasty dishes.

Poaching involves cooking food, usually eggs, fish or delicate vegetables, in a delicious liquid at a temperature of 140 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Shrimp are cooked in vegetable broth with fresh thyme or eggs, and a little vinegar and black pepper are added to the water. Because poaching doesn't involve oil, the cooking method can save you a lot of calories and fat.

Other healthy methods include baking, roasting, broiling, stewing, and sautéing.

4. choose quality ingredients

When you start with a high-quality whole food diet, you optimize your nutritional intake.

Look for mid-season vegetables and fruits, buy high-quality meat from organically raised animals, pay a little extra, and skip processed shortcuts like instant rice and sugary bottled sauces. If you start with the best ingredients, your meal will shine with minimal effort.

An easy way to do this is to put vegetables and eggs together in an omelet or scramble sweet potatoes with eggs in the morning.

10 Cooking Tips Every Beginning Chef Needs to Know

5. read the recipe

Before you start cooking, read the entire recipe from beginning to end. Recipes contain key information, such as the temperature you should preheat your oven and how to prepare the ingredients. Forgetting to read your recipe will almost always guarantee that your meal will not come out as planned.

As a beginning cook, you'll be careful to stick to the measurements. Your recipes play a key role in this, whether you're making a cookie cutter birthday cake or a filet mignon with green beans and baked potatoes.

6. don't be afraid to teach

Have a friend who always brings the best dish to the potluck? Do you faint when you go to your mother-in-law's house for dinner? Don't be afraid to ask them for cooking tips.

Some of the best resources for culinary adventures are close to home. These accomplished home cooks have tried and true methods and may even invite you into their kitchens to watch them at work so you can learn a few tricks.

10 Cooking Tips Every Beginning Chef Needs to Know

7. go online for lessons

Even if there is no culinary expert in your neighborhood, you can watch how people with skills cook. Searching for videos on social media can help you see exactly what chef terms mean. It's one thing to read a description, but when you see what a technique is really like, you have a much better understanding.

8. experiment with spices

Fresh herbal spices don't have a long shelf life, but they brighten up a dull dinner. Try adding fresh cilantro leaves to chopped tomatoes and onions as a quick topping for grilled steaks, or fresh basil on pasta and marinara.

Dry spices have a longer shelf life, which makes them essential for everyday use. Mustard powder, oregano, chili powder, cumin and rosemary add a delicious flavor to bland dishes. For example, pour chili powder over black beans or sprinkle rosemary over chicken breasts.

In addition to adding authentic flavors to your meals, herbs and spices replace unhealthy additives such as added salt, extra fat and sugar additives such as barbecue sauce and ketchup.

However, using herbs and spices doesn't mean you should give up fats altogether." A great way to incorporate healthy fats is with versatile foods such as avocados, nuts or nut butters, seeds and oily fish. Adding these whole foods to your meals will ensure you get a range of nutrients including fiber and protein.

9. don't forget your protein

Skip processed proteins such as preservative-packed hot dogs and sausages in favor of lean, natural proteins. Lean beef, such as flank steak or tenderloin, white meat poultry and seafood are all healthy choices.

Put these on the grill, bake them in the oven, add sautéed fries, or bake them in a pan of vegetables and herbs.

Beans are also a nutritious, heart-healthy source of protein. When you first start cooking, canned beans will become your best friend. Buy low-sodium canned black beans, canned red kidney beans, etc. Put them in a slow cooker with diced tomatoes, minced garlic, diced onions and chili powder to make a vegetarian chili that is sure to please.

10 Cooking Tips Every Beginning Chef Needs to Know

10. always have these basic foods on hand

A well-stocked pantry can make the difference between cooking at home and ordering take-out. Items to keep include chicken broth, brown rice, unsalted or low sodium canned beans, diced tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and whole wheat pasta.

Even if you only have 10 minutes to cook, you'll have the ingredients on hand faster than a pizza delivery.