Quick Tips to Turn Cooking Into Your New Favorite Hobby
Maybe you’ve decided to trim down your takeout budget, or your favorite restaurants are at full capacity, or you’ve just developed a taste for home cooking over the past few months. There are plenty of reasons to make meals in your own kitchen, but it’s not always easy for chefs who are cooking on a schedule or just starting out. That’s why we’ve prepared a few quick ideas for dinner—with these tips to spruce up your basics and recipes for easy one pot meals, you’ll have your kitchen sizzling with delicious dishes in no time at all.
Whether you’re new to cooking or already have a few recipes in your back pocket, there are a few essential ingredients you’ll want to keep stocked up in your house. Pasta, rice, and potatoes are some pantry staples you’ll find yourself using again and again—they’re simple, they store well, and they can make a wide variety of dishes.
- At its simplest level, pasta doesn’t take much more than boiling water and setting a timer, and you can get it on the table fairly quickly as well. Even so, Chatelaine shares a few tips for cooking perfect pasta that aren’t on the package, and these small details can really make a difference. Homemade sauce is another great way to give your meals a little more flavor, and you can get started with these easy recipes for pasta sauces from The Kitchn. But even if you’re using sauce from the jar, Ready Set Eat has some tricks to make store-bought sauce taste gourmet.
- Rice is another basic staple you’ll learn to count on, even if you don’t have a rice cooker. Love & Lemons shares how to cook rice on the stove, as well as a few ideas for dinner you can make with rice as an ingredient. For a dish to make again and again, this customizable fried rice recipe from Gimme Some Oven is a deliciously simple way to clear out the leftovers from your fridge.
- The humble potato doesn’t look like much to start with, but this root is filled with potential—Taste of Home’s collection of easy potato recipes demonstrates the wide variety of dishes you can create with this ingredient. Most of these don’t qualify as a complete meal, but you won’t be bored with their spread of fantastic flavors.
Speaking of complete meals, it can be difficult for many new chefs to time out multiple dishes so they’re finished cooking at the same time. These easy one pot meals have everything you need in one recipe, making it much simpler to plan and prep. With less pans to wash, they also cut down on cleanup, so you can turn to a single skillet or one pot meal when you’re looking for an easy idea for dinner. Since you’ve already stocked up, let’s start with a few featuring each of our pantry staples:
- A collection of 10 one pot pastas
- Creamy chicken and rice casserole from The Kitchn
- The Salty Marshmallow’s ground beef and potatoes
And when you’re ready to branch out, there are plenty of other fun, unique, and delicious one pot meals you can try! Delish’s roasted shrimp, peppers, and feta takes five minutes of prep and is finished in less than half an hour. If you want to impress while entertaining, creamy spinach and artichoke salmon from Half Baked Harvest has a fancy flair and can be prepped ahead of time. Make a big batch of Budget Bytes’ filling vegetable barley soup, and freeze the leftovers for easy reheating. Kids love the sloppy joe recipe from the Zak Designs blog, and if you’re craving some heat, our chipotle chocolate chili recipe puts a memorable twist on a classic dish.
Whether you’re looking to step up your game or just now stepping into the kitchen, these tips, tricks, and recipes will make sure you’re never at a loss for what to cook for dinner. And don’t forget to serve up your creations on beautiful and stylish dinnerware to give your homecooked meals the presentation they deserve.