Cooking classes, online tutorials, and cookbooks filled with diagrams and step-by-step instructions are all wonderful ways to learn new cooking skills. But the truth is, if you want to become a natural and efficient home cook, there is only one path: cooking more. That’s right, regular, daily cooking is what truly makes you a better cook.
Why Regular Cooking Makes You a Better Cook
I once heard the cookbook author and food writer Mark Bittman share this amazing analogy—he said that learning to cook is like learning to drive.
When you are learning to drive, you can’t have any distractions and every single action and movement is almost overwhelming. But, as you become a more comfortable and confident driver, some of it becomes more natural and it becomes easier to make decisions.
The same is true with cooking, he said, that as you do it more and more you start to become increasingly comfortable and familiar with certain cooking tasks—you instinctively know when the oil is heated, you know how many vegetables you can chop in the time it takes the onion to sauté, and so you become more confident and more efficient in the kitchen.
When I think back over my own cooking journey, I definitely feel that this analogy speaks to my experience. For years, I was only comfortable making a very specific set of recipes, almost all of which were quite complicated. Because of this, I needed a long time to pull them together and often felt overwhelmed. It wasn’t until I had a family of my own, people depending on me in order to be fed on a regular basis, that I really began to expand my horizons, gain confidence, and become a better cook.
It was the regular, daily cooking, not the fancy complicated meals that made me a better, more efficient cook.
Skills You Hone Through Daily Cooking
There are many different skills that you will improve through regular cooking. Here are some of the ones that I think are both most important and where you may have already seen shifts. My hope is that by highlighting the skills, you will find motivation to keep on cooking regularly.
Reading a Recipe
When you first start using recipes, you follow them to a tee and do everything in the order prescribed by the author. Over time, though, that starts to shift. First, you become more comfortable with the terminology in recipes. Then you start to see the standard practices that are common throughout recipes. And finally, you begin to find that as you read through the recipe, there will be opportunities to change the order of operations so that the cooking goes more smoothly for you. All of these lead to smoother and better cooking.
Taking knife skills classes or watching demonstrations is key to learning the best and most efficient ways to cut and chop all kinds of foods and are great options for learning good form. When you get started with these skills, you will likely be slower than you would like. That is normal – after all, you are working on a new skill and are doing it with sharp objects! But don’t lose hope because it really will pay off. Regular cooking is what will give you the muscle memory to be able to chop quickly, efficiently, and safely and, in the end, you’ll look back with great satisfaction at how far you’ve come!
When you first start cooking, the times that are shared in a recipe are so important. They help you to gauge when an ingredient is ready for the next step, to better understand when dishes are done, and how to plan out your meal preparation. But as you cook more and more, you will start to notice that your understanding of these things becomes more second nature.
You’ll be able to feel when it is time to add the next ingredient – through sight, sound, smell, and some sort of unexplainable Spidey sense.
In addition, as you cook more and more you’ll have a better idea for how much time you, personally, need to complete certain steps. This is important because it means that you can prep and cook simultaneously, which will save you time!
I like to think of the seasoning levels that are shared in recipes as suggestions rather than gospel, because the truth is, we all have different palates with unique preferences. As you cook more, you’ll be able to read a recipe and say to yourself, I’ll want to double that chili, cut that cinnamon, increase the salt, etc.
You will also start to learn what seasonings you might want to add to bring a recipe even more to life for you. Perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of hot sauce, or a sprinkle of Parmesan will take the recipe from good to great – and the more you cook, the more natural these additions will become.
A Final Thought
One of the things I most love about cooking is that the learning never stops. I am always discovering new ways to be a better, more efficient cook. Even today, my skills continue to improve with practice. There are always new cuisines and styles of cooking to explore. And with each of these explorations and improvements I get a great sense of satisfaction and have even more fun in the kitchen.
This is why I am so passionate about what we are doing here at The Scramble. It is my hope that by providing you with simple and delicious recipes and lots of cooking tips, tricks, and instructions that you can come back to time and time again, we are making that regular cooking an accessible and manageable part of your daily life. We are helping you to become a better cook, a more efficient cook, a more adventurous cook.
Want more cooking inspiration? Check out our post on How to Make Daily Cooking Easy!
I’d love to hear from you! Are you a Scrambler already? If so, have you found it has helped you to become a better cook? If not, then try our free trial to see how our simple, delicious recipes can help you to gain confidence in the kitchen and become a better cook!