10 Cooking from Scratch Tips
For those of you who didn’t have a mother or grandmother who took time to share their secrets about what all went on in the kitchen, the idea of cooking from scratch may be a bit overwhelming to you now that you’re an adult. You may even think that it’s something that you’re not capable of picking up on, but you’d be wrong. Cooking from scratch isn’t as difficult as it seems, as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn. Here are 10 cooking from scratch tips for everyone to know. In case you missed this post, Cooking From Scratch 101
10 Cooking from Scratch Tips
1. Stock Up on the Right Ingredients
Nothing is more irritating than when you’re halfway through a recipe, only to realize you don’t have one or more of the key ingredients that it’s called for tucked away in your pantry. By already having a majority of the most common baking and cooking ingredients that you will need when cooking from scratch, it will save you an extra trip and more money spent at the grocery store. The following two sections list key ingredients that you will need for your cooking and baking purposes:
2. Baking From Scratch Key Ingredients
- White sugar
- Brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Cream of Tartar
- Shredded coconut
- Cocoa powder
- Cooking oil
3. Cooking From Scratch Key Ingredients
- A variety of meat
- Fresh or canned tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Canned beans
- Frozen vegetables
- Canned vegetables
- Salt and pepper
- Italian seasoning
- Barbecue sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Olive oil
4. Have the Right Tools
Having the right ingredients is a great place to start when learning how to cook from scratch, but you’re also going to need the right tools to make meal preparations possible and do so more easily. You will be needing a whisk when mixing certain baking ingredients, and a springform pan if you’re planning on making a cheesecake.
You also don’t want to settle for a cheap set of pots and pans, because they don’t hold up as well as a stainless steel set would. Yes, you’ll pay more upfront for them, but in the long run, you will be glad that you did. These are all important cooking from scratch tips, but this one is vital! As I took the picture above I could see I needed to oil my cutting board and one of my Danish Whisks. LOL! I decided to order some stainless steel Danish Whisks because they have a hook so I can hang them up by a hook. 12-inch Stainless Steel Danish Whisk and an 8-inch Stainless Steel Danish Whisk.
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Dutch Oven
- Cast Iron Pans
- 8-Quart Soup Pot
- 4-Quart Saucepan
- 6-Quart Saucepan
- Danish Whisks
- Egg Beaters
- Cutting Boards
- Potato Peeler
- Can Opener
5. Spend Time Learning From Others
Unfortunately, your fairy godmother isn’t going to be able to “bippity boppity boo” you into an expert chef overnight. Learning how to cook from scratch takes time by watching others, along with tutorials, whether it’s on the internet or the TV. There are also some great cookbooks to help out that are written by chefs who know their stuff. Check your local library before going out and buying books sight unseen.
The more time that you invest in this, the better a cook you will be. Once you’re set on a recipe, be sure that you go over it several times, and that you fully understand the directions.
6. Be Open-Minded
You’ve probably glanced at a recipe in the past and thought to yourself how good it looked, but then realized that it called for an ingredient that you didn’t really care for. I’d be willing to bet that no more than 5 seconds later and you’d be glancing at the next recipe.
It’s common to avoid certain recipes that have one or two ingredients in them that you’re not especially fond of, but I’d encourage you to keep an open mind. You may be surprised at how well those ingredients help to bring a dish together with the texture and flavor you truly enjoy.
But if you try to substitute, or leave out that one ingredient altogether, the entire recipe could end up being a total flop? Maybe it’s the texture of mushrooms that scare you? You could always try dicing them up into smaller pieces as a solution so that they’re less noticeable.
7. Avoid Freestyling
While you may know a friend or family member that is amazing at freestyle cooking, it would be in your best interest if you didn’t take this route until you have gained more experience. That’s why we have recipes.
By choosing to “wing it,” having a disregard for the directions, has all the makings of a dinnertime disaster. It takes knowledge and experience to understand what ingredients that you can substitute for another, so stick to the recipe in the meantime.
8. Pay Close Attention to Recipe Amounts
You may be thinking that you’re following a recipe down to a “T”, but if you don’t fully understand the amount that is being called for, you may end up with a big mess on your hands. Here’s an example of what I mean. Say a recipe is calling for 6 cups of strawberries, diced. Some of you may misunderstand this as referring to 6 cups of diced strawberries.
Though they appear similar, they are in fact two completely different measurements. The intended amount on the recipe is obtained by measuring out 6 cups of whole strawberries and then dicing them, and not dicing your strawberries as you go until you reach 6 cups. The latter will leave you with far too many strawberries.
9. Try Not to Reach for Ingredients as You Go
Until you’ve mastered the skill of cooking from scratch, don’t grab ingredients as you need them. They should already be set within arm’s reach and measured out ahead of time.
It’s also wise to go ahead and chop your vegetables so that you’re not having to do this step when you’re in a crunch. This takes out a lot of the stress and helps you to relax as you’re learning something new.
10. Use a Timer Every Time
With so many distractions that are going on all around us, it can be easy to forget when you are supposed to take something out of the oven. Instead of waiting until your smoke detector goes off, it’s best to set a timer each time you’re cooking.
Also, keep in mind that some recipes suggest you set the partially complete mixture aside for a few minutes. Setting the timer not only assists in reminding you to move on to the next step, but also makes sure the timing of that next step is in line with the recipe directions.
Even the best cooks and bakers have to use a timer, and even if your oven doesn’t have one, there should be a timer available on your phone.
Keep in mind that a cooking time that you see on any given recipe is more of a guideline than an actual rule set in stone. That’s because every oven cooks differently, so always set a timer at least a minute or two before the recommended time to make sure that you don’t burn whatever you’re making. You can always put the item back in the oven for additional cooking if you decide it’s needed.
Cooking from scratch involves following several key steps, but when you bring them all together, you will end up with a delicious meal that may raise a few eyebrows of displayed pleasure. What cooking from scratch tips would you add to this list? P. S. Don’t forget to copy recipes of your mom, aunt, grandma, and grandpa because once they’re gone they may be hard to find. May God Bless this world, Linda.
24 thoughts on “10 Cooking from Scratch Tips”
I use the timer on my microwave a lot.
Hi JayJay, I use the microwave timer too! I also have a minute timer, I use it to remind me to move the water hose on my trees outside. LOL! Linda
We have two timers, plus the one on the stove and the microwave. And I use them as does my husband. If I didn’t use them, I’d burn whatever I’m cooking. Time gets away pretty fast.
Hi Deborah, oh my gosh I love your comment! LOL! We have timers for a reason, LOL! Time goes by faster when we’re in the middle of a craft project or fixing dinner! Timers are a must-have item! LOL! Linda
I have to comment on your number 8. Pay close attention to your recipe, and make sure you
grab the right ingredient. When I was growing up I was making a cake to take to school and I read the recipe wrong, I added to much salt to the cake and it was awful. My mom made me take it anyway,
I should have thrown it away when I got to school but no I shared it. I learned the hard way to pay attention not only to the recipe but to the ingredient. Also until you know your measurements and
know the difference be careful with a handwritten recipe. A small t is teaspoon and a large T is
Hi June, oh my gosh, this story is the best! Thanks for sharing! I think we have all done that one time or another!! LOL! The handwritten recipes, oh yeah, or typos in my recipes!! Life is good! My motto has always been “everything is fixable”. Linda
I love my Danish Dough Whisk! When I was learning to make bread, I burned up about 4 hand mixers until a kind lady online pointed me to the whisk. I have purchased extras over the years and give one to anyone who asks for my roll or bread recipes.
I love to cook from scratch and often “tweek” recipes to my taste. However, it is important to remember that cooking relies heavily on chemistry. Many ingredients react to each other to achieve the desired result so changing amounts of ingredients or substituting may cause failure of the recipe. Trial and error can result in wasting food.
Hi GrammyCFG, I love hearing you love your Danish Whisk!! Yay! It’s funny you would say you buy extras, I do too! I love to show people how to use them and then give them one. Great comment! Life is so good! Linda
I used to be a “ follow the recipe to a “t.” That made for good turnout but limited me from being creative. I prevented failures but nothing exciting. Then i found ‘Pioneer Woman’. It was a good teaching for me, make what you want, be creative. Then I found you. Breads, It cut the fence and set me free in the field. It taught me to try new flavors, don’t limit the possibilities. I love cooking now. It is no longer something i have to do but something i really look forward to doing. It has become fun. I have a red baking dish and when i use it my family knows it is a ‘creative inspiration. We call it the red dish dinner. No name for the recipe yet. Most of the time it is good. Sure, I’ve messed up with a few and threw it out. But, i have learned to try new things, add some extras, and my family loves it. We do like spicy so when friends are here I have to do some adjusting. I’m 74. I grew up in the age of salt and pepper were as spicy as you could go. Now, I’m into jalapeños and cayenne. (A bit on toastand eggs spices up breakfast). I’ve made mistakes with this. My ears burned. I’ve expanded my horizon a lot. Mexican, Chinese, the sky is the limit. It is so fun to cook now. If you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it. If you complain you cook next time. I’m still the chief cook.
Hi Mary in mn, oh my gosh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comment! The red baking dish sounds awesome. I’m 71 and I love to cook and to bake all the time. I’m working on a post right now to show people how to grind pork for their own sausage patties. It’s my family’s “secret” recipe. Do you know how people years ago wouldn’t share their secret recipes? LOL! I share all my recipes. Something funny about recipes I have to share. I remember at church dinners we would pass out the same recipe to like 6 women. The SAME RECIPE!! All six casseroles looked and tasted different!! We served all of them and everyone was happy with their plate full of food. Life is so good! Linda
Our church did that for funerals with cakes. Nothing the same about them. Some were good even one that tasted like paste. Follow the directions if you don’t cook a lot. Lol.
I am looking forward to your meat grinding. I have a grinder somewhere. I’ll have to hunt it down.
HI Mary in mn, oh my gosh, cakes! I wish I had my mom’s meat grinder, one of my sisters must have it. I had to buy a new one. I have missed the sausage they used to make. I want to make ham salad as well, I grew up on that! Stay tuned, Linda
When I was growing up it would be a major scandal if someone offered or brought store bought baking to any event. My mom also made just about anything possible from scratch, at the same time as holding down a full time job and keeping up with old fashioned housekeeping. It took me ages to talk her out of ironing every single thing that came off the clothesline. My parents also made their own sausages, kept a huge garden, did canning and made sauerkraut. I still have a preference for doing most cooking and baking from scratch though sometimes I feel quite lazy when I think of how busy they were. My kids were taught how to cook and do a variety of things from scratch and my grandkids are now learning from their parents. I think it’s the best legacy you can hand down and also teach to others who are willing to learn.
Hi Alice, a major scandal if they brought store-bought food!! Best comment ever! I LOVE that! LOL! You know we really do have it so much easier than our parents or grandparents. We may think we are busy but not as busy as our ancestors. I remember my grandmother ironing sheets after pulling them off the clothesline. I bet I was married at least 30 years before I quit ironing the pillowcases. I never ironed the sheets. The best thing we can do in life is teaching our children to work and learn as many skills as we can show them. They can be outside skills or inside, whatever. The best legacy ever, you are so right. Great comment, Linda
When I learned to cook as a child, my mother said to always use the recipe the first time making a new dish and when it was tasted/served, to make notes about what it needed more of, less of or different. Cannot tell you how many cookbooks had handwritten notes in them until sticky note pads came along!! I still have a few cookbooks and they are marked up some. After cooking for nearly 60 years, I don’t use a cookbook nearly as often other than for reference or inspiration. I have some “recipes” committed to memory but some I still refer to – especially baking.
Hi Leanne, thank goodness for yellow stickies!!! LOL! I know some recipes by memory, But I still grab a cookbook or two to make sure I remember everything! Linda
Hi Y’all, I too learned to cook as a young girl from my mom and Home Ec. In school lol remember that class in middle school. When I left home to start my own family, I learned to garden, canning my own food. Needing a recipe was just a call away, notes were left in cook books on pieces of papers for decades.Those are the memories that hold our families together, the recipes that we copied to books and send on with our children. They take them when they start their families and pass on their traditions and stories. When we gather in our kitchen, we pass on more then just a simple recipe, we pass on a story, a laughter, a memory with that dish, so enjoy your family and treasure them. For they are so awesome and delicious.
Hi Janet, oh I love your comment!! I totally agree with you about learning to cook at home and at Home Ec. Wonderful memories! When you mentioned gathering in a kitchen it made my heart swell with joy! Those are the memories every family needs. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Thank you for sharing! Linda
I would add dry beans. They store for many years and are very easy to sub. for oils in cooking . Use them in bread, desserts, cookies and many other foods, even fudge. Canned beans are easy to use, but do not last as long on the shelf. Easy to find info, on their usage in ” I Can’t Believe It’s Food Storage”. Great recipes! Also, “Store This Not That”. I cook a variety and then freeze them for later.
Hi Cheryl, great tips on those books. I never bought them because I can cook from scratch. I looked today on Amazon and one of them is $49.00 2017 one and the other one is $17.00. I wish I could look at them in person, I may go to Barnes and Noble to check them out. I’ve heard you talk about them before. Thanks again, Linda
Try Deseret Book . Amazon has a problem with getting copies fast from the printer and that is why the price goes up. YOu might try again and I will look, too.
Hi Cheryl, I will do that, thank you!!!! Linda
Hi Linda, Just have to make some comments. As you know, I’m 83. So, grew up in the day when mom insisted that everything be ironed. Everything but our socks. Even dad’s undershorts!! We had an iron ,of course but also had what mom called a “mangle”. It was a long round tube that turned and a metal plate that pulled down to actually iron the item on the tube. I got so good on that that I could iron my dad’s white shirts and they looked like they came from the cleaners. Got quite a few burns before I “became professional” on this. By the time I left home to go out on my own, I “hated” ironing
My mom was a magician. She raised 6 children. Cooked every meal, canned and did everything else necessary to keep a family going. Raised a huge garden ( I think that’s where my love of gardening was created).
AND spring cleaning!!!!! what a chore that was. Had to clean down the wallpaper with a can of “wallpaper cleaner”. Did you ever use that?? Mom would model animals out of the used stuff and we kept them. That’s what you call “Upcycling” before its time. Laundered all the lace curtain. They were the heavily starched and then put them on a “curtain stretcher”. It was our job (my sis and I) to do that job. That horrible think that had tiny nails where the edges of the curtains were hooked to stretch them. Can’t tell you how many punctures I got in my fingers!
She never seemed to stop and was always the last one to lay her head down to sleep.
BTW, I have a Danish Dough Whisk also. Don’t use it as much anymore, due to damaged shoulders that can’t take the punishment. Used to use it all the time. Of course, don’t bake as often now that there are just two of us. I have taken up canning and dehydrating again. Anything to be prepared.
Have rambled on long enough. Look forward to your next post. Stay well and safe.
Hi Suzanne, I love your comments and never view them as rambles. As I read your comment, I remembered the jean stretchers and slack straightners. I’m 71 and boy, do I remember the ironing. I put Mark through college ironing clothes for people and babysitting kids. What’s funny, I can’t remember the last thing I ironed. It would have been new curtains, maybe. But not sheets, or clothes. I got the giggles over your mom ironing everything but the socks. We never had wallpaper but we had to wash walls with rags. I’m not sure my kids have an iron, I’m not sure my grandkids KNOW what an “iron” is. Life sure does change. Stay well and stay safe! Linda