10 of the Most Common Cooking Mistakes You’re Definitely Making


Food Network star, I am not. I’m not even the next Food Network star (or the next, next, next Food Network Star). I’m not really a star of anything that goes along with food other than eating it and pinning really delicious photos of it on Pinterest. In fact, I just fed my kids McDonalds for lunch because it’s probably healthier, safer and better than most of what I could cook up. Okay, so I can slice some fruit and veggies for them, but I did promise them McDonads ice cream today, so there you go. Most of us are not master chefs in any sense of the word, but we can and do cook a little. And that means most of us are probably making the same common mistakes over and over again; and we don’t even know it. It’s time for those of us who aren’t pros in the kitchen (how do you turn the stove on, again?) to learn how to avoid some of the most common mistakes made in the kitchen and improve our cooking game just a bit.

You can’t Leave the Crockpot Alone

So many of us are so guilty of this one, and we know it. The crockpot is the best way to cook a meal that’s tender and juicy, but we are too quick to pop off the lid and poke around in there to check on things – or even just to smell the meal cooking. We cannot do this as it allows heat to escape and greatly affects the cooking time that the food needs to become as decadent and delicious as it should be.

You don’t Taste and Cook

Have you ever watched professional chefs as they cook? They always take a few minutes to taste the product as they go; and it’s not because they are gluttons. It’s because they are looking to ensure everything is cooking well and that there is enough seasoning. It’s far easier to fix something as you go than it is after it’s complete.

You Flip the Meat on the Grill too Often

We usually use our gas grills during summer for barbeque parties. I personally don’t grill often but even I know you have to leave the meat alone. My husband’s best friend is a master meat flipper, and there is always a collective, “Don’t touch the meat,” that is yelled out by every man in the outdoor kitchen when he is cooking, and he never listens. It’s a running joke that he just cannot stop touching the meat. Mean only requires one flip.

You do not Use Enough Season

I cannot stress this enough to people; season is your friend. I know someone who doesn’t use it at all, and the food is consistently bland and under-delicious. I’m no master professional in the kitchen, but I do know that you have to be generous with the seasoning if you want flavorful food.

You Cut the Meat too Soon

There is a sudden urge when meat comes out of the oven or off the grill to slice it right away, but you have to avoid this if possible. Instead, let it sit for a few minutes so that all the decadent juices built up in the meat have time to distribute evenly throughout the meat (instead of all over your plate). Trust me; you will be glad you waited.

You Shove too Much Food in a Pan

Guilty and guilty and guilty. I will stick as many pieces of meat/food/veggies/whatever in a pan so that I can avoid dishes and time spent in the kitchen as possible, and it’s not good for my meal. Heat is incapable of being evenly distributed when you overcrowd a pan, and it makes things uncomfortable and less than ideal. Do the right thing; use a second pan or make a second batch.

You don’t let Meat Reach Room Temperature Prior to Cooking

Did you know that cooking meat that’s still cold does not allow for it to cook evenly? It’s the most common reason that so many people end up with overcooked, under-delicious meat when they are cooking. Your meat, no matter the type, requires approximately 30 minutes time to reach room temperature to make it ideal for cooking.

You Slice the Veggies too Early

Did you know that it’s possible to slice veggies too early and change not only the consistency and taste but also the nutritional value of each veggie? It’s true. Experts recommend that you make it a point to wait to cut your veggies until you are ready to use them.

You do not Understand Oil Smoke Point

If you’re like me, you probably don’t even know what this means. What it does mean is that oils have something called a smoke point, or a temperature that, once exceeded, can cause the oil to burn and begin releasing rancid chemicals that are not considered healthful. It’s time to learn them and avoid them.

You don’t let Things Heat Up

One of the biggest cooking mistakes people (me) make is not allowing the pan sufficient time to heat up prior to putting anything in or on it; and that’s a party foul. Give your pan or pot at least 5 minutes time to warm up prior to placing your food in there to begin cooking. Trust me when I say that letting go of this bad habit is going to change the way that you view food and your cooking abilities from this point forward.

It’s not going to be a breeze to change all your negative cooking habits at one time, but you can start by changing one at a time until you’re a pro at avoiding the mistakes mentioned on this list. After that, you’re going to be a lot more Martha Stewart and a lot less, “Let’s call the pizza place and order take out,” and your family is going to love that – and so will their overall health, and that’s what is the most important aspect of all this.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


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