· Food & Recipes · 7 Things To Stop Doing For Better Tasting Food
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7 Things To Stop Doing For Better Tasting Food

food mistakes

In a 2013 study at Johns Hopkins University, researchers analyzed survey data from over 9,000 American adults and found that those who cooked frequently at home typically ate a healthier and higher quality diet than those who didn’t. Knowing that my habit of eating out fairly infrequently is benefitting my diet is a nice silver lining, but it doesn’t change the fact that the food at my favorite restaurants just tastes better than the food I cook at home.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way, either. But luckily for all of us, learning to avoid common cooking pitfalls can go a long way toward ensuring our home cooked meals are as delicious as possible—even as tasty as what we get at our favorite restaurants!

I shared tips for avoiding some of those cooking mistakes in this blog post, as well as in this follow-up. Today I’ll be sharing 7 MORE mistakes that may be plaguing you in the kitchen and advice for avoiding them. Keep these tips in mind as you continue honing your culinary skills!

7 MORE Common Cooking Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

food mistakes

1. You Cut Veggies Unevenly

Cooking vegetables that are cut unevenly often results in the smaller pieces being overcooked and larger pieces being undercooked. So it’s worth it to cut those veggies as uniformly as possible, even if it takes a little longer!

If you’re worried you lack the necessary precision, get some help from a vegetable slicer or dicer.

food mistakes

2. You Don’t Season Your Cooking Water

If you’re boiling your pasta or potatoes in a pot of plain water, you’re doing it wrong! Well maybe not wrong, but you are skipping over your first opportunity to enhance the flavor of whatever you’re cooking!

Salting your water is a super easy way to season your food from the inside out. Just add salt after the water begins to boil—one to two teaspoons of coarse or kosher salt per quart of water should do the trick (less if you’re using table salt).

For more tips that will help make your next spaghetti night more memorable, check out these pasta hacks!

food mistakes

3. You Don’t Rinse Canned Beans

The cloudy liquid in a can of beans is full of sodium and extra starches. Drain your canned beans into a sieve and give them a good rinse under cool water.

That is, unless your recipe specifically calls for the undrained beans (which happens from time to time with chili and other soups). To find out what other foods you should (or shouldn’t) be rinsing, check out this blog post.

food mistakes

4. You Cut Into Chicken To See If It’s Done

You should always let chicken and other meats rest for at least 3-5 minutes after cooking. This rest period gives the moisture inside the meat enough time to be reabsorbed so that it doesn’t run out onto your cutting board when you cut into it.

So how do you check to make sure that it’s done without slicing into it? Invest in an instant read digital thermometer and use it to verify that your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

(My printable cheat sheet for meat temperatures makes the perfect companion to any digital thermometer! Download it for free here.

food mistakes

5. You Only Use Lean Ground Beef

While lean ground beef (around 90% lean and above) is just fine for tacos, meat sauces, and casseroles, it’s not always the best choice for other recipes! Not having enough fat in your ground beef can lead to dry meatloaf and flavorless burgers, which is definitely not what you want!

If you’re cooking something like meatloaf or meatballs, go for 80-85% lean ground beef to ensure it sticks together and retains moisture. And for juicy, flavorful burgers, look for an even higher fat content such as 73-75% lean beef.

food mistakes

6. You Marinate Seafood Too Long

Marinades are made up of three components that work together to add flavor and tenderness: acid, oil, and spices/seasonings. While large cuts like briskets and steaks need to marinate for hours on end to get the desired results, delicate seafood is another matter entirely!

In fact, an “acidic” marinade—think citrus juice or vinegar—can literally cook seafood in as little as a couple of hours, à la ceviche. But if you’re using an acidic marinade with seafood you’re planning to cook on the grill or elsewhere, you should only leave it in for about 20 minutes or so.

food mistakes

7. You Don’t Know Your Oven’s Quirks

While I normally love big personalities, my old oven’s constant mood swings used to drive me up the wall! You’d think that setting an oven to 350°F would actually result in it heating to 350°F, but as is the case with many ovens, that would actually be a pretty big assumption!

Many ovens aren’t as accurate as we give them credit for, and even change their behavior as they age. For these reasons, I always stick to two rules when it comes to my current oven:

  1. Always use an oven thermometer. I keep mine in my oven full-time, and I made sure to pick one I could read through the oven door so I didn’t have to open it to check the temperature.
  2. Know your oven’s hot spots. To test for hot spots, perform the “bread test” by covering the middle rack with slices of bread and baking them at 350°F for a few minutes. The most toasted spots indicate that your oven got particularly hot in that area. Once you know where your oven’s hot spots are, you can adjust the position of your food accordingly.

To learn more about how to calibrate your oven for better baking, check out this post.

What’s your favorite cooking tip or trick?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • Thermometers are wonderful tools in the kitchen! Be sure to purchase one that is clearly labeled NSF. That means that the thermometer can be calibrated. That is very important for good results when working with candy or chicken products. I purchase thermometers from ThermoWorks. They make thermometers for professionals and have a wide range of products. Those on their mailing list get notices about fantastic sales.

  • I always use lean or extra lean ground beef in my recipes but I add 1 or 2 TBSPs of Avacado or Olive oil to the recipe. Bad fats out, good fats in.

  • I use a meatball recipe for my meatloaf and the addition of Parmesan cheese takes care of any missing fat. It also ramps up the flavor. It’s always a hit! And I used to hate meatloaf

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