Cooking for Dummies: Avoid These 9 Common Mistakes

Whether you're a novice in the kitchen or just simply a self-learned chef, there are some tips that our mama just didn't teach us when it comes to cooking savvy. Although we learn from our mistakes, it can cost us a scrumptious meal, or worse, our culinary cred when we serve up a dry chicken to a tableful of hungry guests.

In an effort to save egos in the kitchen everywhere, we turned to healthy culinary expert and author, Holly Clegg, to help us break down the nine most common kitchen mistakes.

1. Cutting Right Into Cooked Meat: When you're cooking meats, anything from searing a piece of meat, grilling or roasting a turkey, you need to let it rest before you cut into it. Otherwise, all the juices that you've sealed in during cooking will end up spilling out.

sliced steak on a cutting board

2. Not Using Proper Measuring Devices: Measure ingredients with the proper measuring tool. Use a liquid measuring cup or carafe for milk, water, oil, and any other wet ingredients. Use measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients like sugar and flour.

measuring cups filled with grains

3. Cooking Everything on High: Don't cook everything on high. Almost everything you ever cook will cook more evenly and thoroughly on low or medium heat. You only need the high setting to sear or brown food, or if you're trying to bring something to a boil.

cooking lemon tilapia

4. Throwing Away Bananas: Have over-ripe bananas? Don't toss them. Instead freeze the brown bananas to pull out and make banana bread at any time. Freeze with or without peeling in plastic freezer tip-top bags. Try Skinny Mom's Skinny Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

coconut chip chocolate chip banana bread recipe

5. Stocking Pantry Shelves to the Max: Don't fret when you have bare shelves. Think of an over stocked pantry as a permanent shopping list as it can be overwhelming to determine what you have or need. It is much easier to cook a home cooked healthy meal when you simply keep great basics stocked in your pantry - whole grain pastas, canned low sodium veggies, olive oil, spices, etc.

well stocked kitchen pantry

6. Taking the top off the Slow Cooker: When using a slow cooker, don't leave the top off as you can lose up to 20 degrees of cooking heat in as little as 2 minutes. A quick peek is okay as it may only change the temperature 1-2 degrees. [Check out Skinny Mom's best Slow Cooker Recipes!]

slow cooker meal

7. Avoiding Cooking Because You Don't Have All of the Ingredients: Know your substitutions...need sour cream? Use Greek yogurt instead. Don't have buttermilk, use 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. When in doubt, use the internet to search for a substitution before heading to the store or scratching your recipe idea all together and ordering takeout.


8. Putting a Cold Dish in the Hot Oven: Putting a cold dish in a hot oven can cause it to break, leaving you with not only a mess to clean up, but with your dinner plans in shambles. Let the dish come to room temperature or start the oven with the dish in it.

roasted vegetable casserole in oven0comments

9. Throwing Things In the Freezer: Use correct freezing instructions. Always use proper containers and zip-lock freezer plastic bags to keep your dish fresh and free from freezer burn. Don't fill containers and bags to the top as food will expand when freezing. (photo credit)

bags of frozen vegetables

For more cooking tips, check out 7 Ways to Cook Thinner Instantly, and make sure you go to the grocery store prepared with this healthy grocery list from The Biggest Loser's dietician!