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    Apr 4, 2020

    20 Ways To Set Yourself Up For Cooking Success Before Even Turning On The Stove

    Bon appétit, peeps.

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    1. Clean your kitchen "from top to bottom," as my mother would say.

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    Starting with a clean kitchen will help minimize any bacteria that could contaminate your food, free up all the dishes you'll need during the cooking and eating process, and it'll probably give you more counter and tabletop space to spread out your ingredients.

    2. Read the recipe all the way through before starting so you don't forget little things that make a big difference in the quality of your meal.

    YouTube / SoulPancake / Giphy / Via youtube.com

    You don't want to learn at the last minute that you were supposed to cover something up with aluminum foil when it's already been in the oven or that you were supposed to use a different type of cooking oil.

    3. Make sure you dry your meat by patting it thoroughly with a paper towel before cooking it.

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    Water left in your meat will cause it to steam but you want that baby to SEAR! Drying it out will make sure it sears and help maintain its flavor.

    4. Use a meat thermometer to help save your whole meal! No need to fret over under- or overcooking your meat ever again.

    Bed Bath & Beyond

    Remember all those times you ate slightly dried-out chicken breasts because you jusssst couldn't get the timing right? Those days are over once you get a meat thermometer. Just look up the official "done" temperature of whatever you're cooking, stick in your thermometer, and it'll tell you whether or not the meat is ready.

    Get the meat thermometer from Bed Bath & Beyond for $19.99.

    5. Let your steak come down to room temperature before cooking it so it'll cook evenly.

    Thomas Francois / Getty Images

    If you're used to pulling thawed-out steak from the fridge and plopping it straight into a hot pan, then get un-used to it. Room temperature will make sure that steak cooks evenly and you get all the flavor you want out of it.

    6. Invest in a pressure cooker for days when you actually don't want to touch a stove at all but you do want a home-cooked meal.

    Wayfair

    This one has settings for high pressure, low pressure, slow cooking, browning, sauteing, and warming.

    Get it from Wayfair for $58.99 (originally $79.99).

    7. Keep your fresh veggies and fruits wrapped with paper towels in the fridge to make sure they're still fresh and ready to go when it's time to cook.

    BuzzFeed

    The paper towel will prevent excess moisture from ruining your precious produce before you have a chance to get to it.

    8. OR, use produce-saving containers that help make fruits and veggies ACTUALLY FREAKING LAST in the fridge so they're nice and fresh when you're ready to pull 'em out and slice 'em up for a meal.

    Buzzfeed / Natalie Brown

    Time out for returning to your fridge with your heart and taste buds set on those leafy greens you picked up at the grocery store just to discover they've withered away into shoulda-coulda-woulda-been-delicious land. Buzzfeed Shopping editor Natalie Brown tried these. Peep her review of how long it made her produce last ahead.

    "I put half of my fresh strawberries in the medium-sized container and left the other half in the clamshell container they came in from the store. And here they are 10 days later!!! The berry I left in the original container looked dehydrated and blemished, with wrinkled, crunchy leaves. (I'm not eating the leaves, but still.) But the produce-saver strawb's as fresh as it was on day one! Not that I wouldn't eat the dehydrated one if that was my only option, but given the choice? I'll take a fresh strawberry every day!"

    Get a six-piece set from Bed Bath & Beyond for $24.99.

    9. Keep some kind of stock around the house so you can use it as a more flavorful substitute for water when possible.

    BuzzFeed / Getty Images

    My roommate started buying chicken and turkey stock for the house and I haven't looked back since. We've used it to make mashed potatoes and various soups and the flavor upgrade is undeniable. There are all kinds to choose from including veggie stock for vegetarians.

    10. Keep your knives sharpened so your slice-and-dice prep process is easy peasy. It takes less time to slice stuff with a sharpened knife than it does with one that isn't ~on point~.

    Nickelodeon / Giphy / Via giphy.com, Bed Bath & Beyond

    Just keep a knife sharpener handy so you're not outta luck at the worst possible time.

    Get one from Bed Bath & Beyond for $5.99.

    11. Pound and slice your chicken so all parts have an equal thickness before cooking.

    BuzzFeed Tasty / Giphy / Via youtube.com

    When your chicken is even all across, it'll cook more evenly and you won't have some parts of the chicken coming out drier than other parts.

    12. Press and roll all your citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges, and limes, so you can get way more of the juice out.

    BuzzFeed

    This'll loosen all the pulp so all the juice comes out easier and more potent.

    13. Wash your dang rice!

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    Rinsing your rice is super important. Don't just rip the bag open and pour it into boiling water. Use a colander and run cool water through it until the water is no longer cloudy to get rid of all the surface starch from each grain. This way, your rice won't clump up AND it'll be super fluffy.

    14. Always, always keep some fresh garlic and onions in the fridge so you stay prepared to make a nice, flavorful meal when you get the mind to do it.

    YouTube / BuzzFeed Tasty / Via youtube.com

    There's nothing like working up your energy to cook just to open up the fridge and realize you're missing the very things you need to make the meal taste good and have to make a store run. Your belly's gonna thank you for keeping these around.

    15. Make a filling shake with fruits and veggies you keep laying around so you can drink it before or during cooking. This'll help anyone who's like me and tends to make more prep and cooking mistakes when your stomach is growling and you're rushing to make a meal.

    Wayfair

    Get the personal blender from Wayfair for $20.68.

    16. Keep the right foods separated when you're prepping so you don't have any contamination going on.

    Wayfair

    You don't want to cut your fruits and veggies on the same surface you cut your raw meat on, so keep everything totally separate by either cleaning and drying your cutting boards thoroughly or using separate cutting boards altogether. There are even color-coded cutting board sets so you don't forget while you're in the kitchen getting down.

    Get the color-coded cutting board set from Wayfair for $15.99.

    17. If you're going to make a cake and forgot to let the butter get to room temperature, then use a grater to warm it up quickly.

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    Your cake needs butter at room temperature to rise and grating it will get it there super quickly.

    18. Make sure you have more than just non-stick pans in your cadre of cooking tools.

    Cindy Ord / Getty Images

    I'm a sucker for a non-stick pan and used to use one for everything because I didn't really know that much about how heat works and what temperatures are needed for different food types. I've since learned to use non-stick pans for stuff I realllyyyy can't afford to stick like eggs and pancakes. For food like bacon, I use my cast iron skillet. “It’s a different kind of heat with nonstick pans," Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of Dirt Candy, says. "It’s not quite as hot. It doesn’t get things as crispy since it’s really protecting things from the heat underneath."

    19. If you have a taste for Chick-fil-A fries but don't want to hit up a drive-thru right now, then keep some peanut oil around the house for a similar taste.

    Chick-fil-A

    Chick-fil-A shared on its website that it makes its fries in 100% peanut oil. We tried it on fries the other day in our home and it was AMAZING. You're welcome.

    20. It's OK to take the shortcut on things when you're stocking up your kitchen and prepping for a meal.

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    Some days you may not have it in you to stand over a pot of rice so minute rice will do. Other days you may not feel like peeling and cutting ginger. Pre-grated ginger is OK. You don't have to make biscuits from scratch. Pillsbury biscuits are FINE (especially with butter and honey drizzled on top of 'em. Yum!) No one is going to die because you didn't make every single thing from scratch every single time. Be gentle with yourself when you're cooking. Food's about fun!

    Bon appétit people!

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