When you first move to uni, you may never have cooked before. Therefore you may not be aware of some useful cooking tips that can make preparing your meals quicker, easier and safer. Cooking is nothing to be afraid of, and takes practise to get really good at it, but remember that cooking something with fresh ingredients is a lot healthier than eating microwave meals all the time. So here are some of the things that you should bear in mind as you start your journey to mastering a key adult skill:
The middle of the frying pan is hottest, so if you want your food to cook faster, put it in the middle of the pan. This is especially true for frying chicken or any kind of meat. Put the bigger pieces in the middle and the smaller pieces on the outside to prevent the smaller pieces being over-done before the bigger pieces are done cooking.
When frying something on a high heat, continuously move it around to prevent it burning.
Cut open a piece of meat to check that it is cooked properly. Chicken will still be pink on the inside if it is not fully cooked.
Sometimes a lower heat is better. When making sweet potato fries, I started to wonder why they were consistently coming out burnt. It was because I was baking them on a high heat. They cooked fast, but got burnt in the process. Sometimes it’s better to cook something on a lower heat for longer for a more edible result.
Don’t cut meat and veg on the same chopping board. This helps to avoid contamination and reduce your chances of getting ill. If you only have one chopping board, thoroughly wash it between preparing the different food types. If you get meat juice etc on the kitchen surfaces, clean the area thoroughly, your flatmates will be grateful.
The top shelf in the oven is the hottest shelf because heat rises, so the food there will cook faster.
Prepare meals in bulk and freeze them so they’re ready to be eaten on a tight schedule. Also, because big packs of fresh meat are often more affordable than smaller packs, the freezer will be your friend. Freezing meat before it goes out of date is a good way of ensuring that you don’t end up just throwing it away because you didn’t eat it in time.
Be careful about how you store liquids in the fridge. My flat designated the bottom shelf of the fridge for keeping stuff like open bottles of milk and juice cartons because it was the only shelf that was large enough to keep that stuff standing up. Bottles are notorious for leaking when lying down, so be considerate to peoples stuff on the shelves underneath yours. Also on the subject of fridges, make sure you throw out anything that is not in date and make sure to take out your rubbish bags regularly. It’s very easy to stink out a kitchen.