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6 Tips To Become A Great Cook In 1 Month

6 Tips To Become A Great Cook In 1 Month

So, you finally realized that you will have to do some cooking for yourself? You should feel glad that you are thinking about making this step in your life and that you have no fear about going through with it. A lot of people don’t have the confidence to try and cook something by themselves. They may have tried a couple of times before, failed, and now they think that cooking is something they can’t do.

If this has happened to you as well, think about it a bit more and ask yourself this: did you really prepare yourself for preparing food? The answer is probably no. Preparing for cooking a meal includes many things: getting the right ingredients, using the right dishes, mixing flavors, and actually cooking the food. I know that it may seem complicated, but making decent, tasty meals that are healthy and don’t take much of your time is not that hard.

Forget about professional cooks and their meals; they have been doing their jobs for years. Furthermore, you simply might not have the talent that they do. Still, becoming a decent cook is not hard, and with a learning mindset, work, and a bit of direction, you can do it. Here is what you need to know.

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1. Learn to accept failure

The first thing you need to do is to let go of the illusion that everything will go perfectly. Relax — don’t be such a scaredy cat. All famous cooks have thrown out, destroyed, or burned a lot of food before they learned to cook their meals right. Be prepared to make bad meals in the beginning, to fail a couple of times. Remember: you can learn from failure. For example, when you burn a certain ingredient, next time you will know how much heat it can take.

2. Switching tasks

Cooking includes a lot of multitasking and finishing small tasks in a short period of time. As a beginner, all of this may seem chaotic, but when you decide to make that bold move and make an effort to speed-clean your kitchen while cooking, cutting vegetables, and serving the food, you will realize that it’s not that difficult. When cooking, there is almost always downtime, like when roasting meat in the oven. These free windows of time should be used to either clean your workspace or prepare something else that goes along with the meal.

3. Get appropriate kitchen tools

When it comes to cooking a decent meal, you can’t actually make one if you don’t have the necessary tools for it. Some more complex meals simply cannot be prepared well if you don’t use adequate dishes. Furthermore, a low-quality dish can paste together your food and ruin the whole thing. And to think that all these years, you though that the meat you burned was your fault. Here are the essentials you need:

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  • Knives: A block full of knives may look nice, but you only need to have three different knives — a serrated knife, a chef’s knife, and a paring knife. Don’t buy the cheapest ones you find as it is worth buying more expensive knives. Also get an electric knife sharpener and you can rest assured that they will serve you well for a long time.
  • Cooking boards: Get two so that you can switch between them when cooking to avoid mixing flavors.
  • Mixing bowls: You should get a set of stainless mixing bowls as they can save a lot of space because they fit in each other.
  • Spoons and cups for measuring: Since you aren’t experienced in cooking, these items will come in quite handy for adding adequate doses of ingredients.
  • Cookware: Get non-stick skillets to avoid pasting food with the dish. You should avoid scratching the surface with metal objects.
  • Electric mixer: Baked food can be prepared much more easily with mixers.
  • Blender: With a blender, you can easily make salad dressings or smoothies

4. Get good, healthy, and simple food recipes

Find some decent, simple recipes with which you will start practicing your cooking. You can go with something that you find interesting and tasty as well. Before you start cooking, read a couple of cookbooks to learn simple cooking terms so that you don’t get confused in the middle of frying something. Furthermore, you will learn “the flow” of cooking a meal and in which order things go.

5. Shop for ingredients

Once you choose a meal that you want to cook, go to a nearby grocery store and get the ingredients you need for it. Try and find fresh ingredients only and avoid buying similar items. Ingredients are very important, and if you don’t stick to the recipe or they aren’t fresh, your meal won’t turn out as it’s supposed to. Still, like I’ve said before, you should go with some simple meals that require basic ingredients you can find at any local grocery store. After you get experienced with cooking, you will learn what ingredients you can change, but still make tasty food.

6. Prepare in advance

Before you actually turn on your oven or your stove, you should prepare things that can be prepared in advance. For example, cut all the ingredients, peel vegetables, and set aside all the spices, meat, and other ingredients after measuring them. This way, you will have time to check the cookbook and make sure that you’ve got everything covered. Simply follow the steps and add ingredients as you go. Forgetting about something or getting confused will be much more difficult if you have everything prepared by your side.

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Essentials in cooking

Learning a few simple techniques will help you prepare a variety of simple dishes.

Boiling pasta:

A lot of meals include pasta. To make it perfect every time, use a large pot and fill two thirds of it with water. The more water, the lesser the chance that the pasta will stick to your dish when cooking. For a gallon of water, add a teaspoon of salt. Wait until the water boils and then add your pasta. Stir and cook for around 13 minutes. Try it to make sure it’s cooked.

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Cutting vegetables:

Whip out your cutting board and knife, wash your veggies and dry them. Use your dominant hand to hold the knife and the other to hold the vegetable you are cutting. Curve your fingers so that you hold the vegetable with just the tip of your fingers. This way, you will avoid cutting yourself. Use the knife for cutting only and your other hand for handling vegetables.

Scrambling eggs:

Not only are scrambled eggs one of the simplest and tastiest breakfast meals, but once you learn what you can do with eggs, you will also learn how to mix them in other foods. The trick with eggs is to mix them just before you cook them. Use your mixer and mix them for 20 seconds to get that fluffy, yellow mixture. One you put them into the pan, mix them slowly. When you see that they are getting solid, when all of the eggs appear cooked, remove them from the pan. If you leave them too long, they will become dry and lose their texture.

Be creative and always try to learn new things when cooking. Once you cook your first meal, you will be amazed by how satisfying it can be — not just for your belly, but for your mind as well. It’s in human nature to cook and you will see how rewarding it can be to cook for yourself and your friends as well. Always make sure to taste your food and ingredients while preparing them. You can quickly learn by the color of the food or by its taste whether or not it’s well-prepared. Explore cooking and have fun!

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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