No matter what sort of cuisine you enjoy cooking, some fundamentals will always apply. Instantly improving your cooking might seem impossible, but trust me, it is not as hard as you might think. In this article I outline some budget-friendly cooking essentials that have helped me to take my cooking to the next level.
A decent chopping board:
Whether it be dicing onions, scoring meat, or grating garlic, all these tasks are made easier with a good quality chopping board. Personally, I like to use a large wooden board so that when I’m chopping ingredients nothing escapes and it’s all easy to transfer into a pan. Although everyone has a preference, smaller chopping boards will make it easier for food to fall off and if not weighed down, will move around, increasing the risk of injury and preventing your knife from carrying out continuous movements. One thing to remember though, if you are thinking of buying a larger chopping board, make sure it’s not too big that it won’t fit on your counter or in your cupboard.
Tip: If you find that your chopping board moves about whilst your cooking, try placing a damp tea towel underneath it. This will prevent it from slipping.
A sharp chef’s knife
One of the simplest and most effective ways of instantly improving your cooking is investing in a sharp chef’s knife. In my experience, buying separate knives for different jobs is unnecessary and can be expensive. With one good all-rounder you can slice bread, chop tomatoes, dice meat and do pretty much anything else you would need for a simple recipe.
When buying a knife, look out for one that is made of good quality steel as it will keep its sharpness for longer. Also, a sharp knife is safer as it requires less pressure to cut an ingredient, reducing the chance of applying a dangerous amount of force if you slip. In the world of knives, quality over quantity really does ring true.
Every cook needs a few basic staples—essential ingredients—so that they can execute a recipe the way it was intended. Salt and pepper are key when cooking any western cuisine as they both help to season a dish, enhancing its flavour and adding depth. Tinned chopped tomatoes and onions are excellent staples for students as they’re affordable and the possibilities that you can use them with are endless—for example, curries, stews, soups, etc. By making food yourself, you are always cutting costs and by having staples in your cupboard, you’ll be more likely to cook for yourself. Other staples may include garlic, stock cubes, cooking oil, and flour.