We may already be a handful of days into 2017, but it’s not yet too late to add "cook more often" to your list of New Year's resolutions. Knowing your way around the kitchen is a very handy life skill that can save you money and calories in the long run. And if you need more motivation, well, trust us on this: Girls absolutely dig guys who can cook.
But before you try your hand at your crush’s favorite recipes, make sure your kitchen moves are on point by bidding adieu to these bad cooking habits, STAT!
1) Using dull knives
It’s hard to go full-on Cooking Master Boy when you can’t even mince garlic with gusto. Fix that by sharpening your knives regularly—a few times a year should do the trick. Don’t forget to store them properly (read: away from the elements) to keep them in top form.
2) Frying everything
Sure, frying is the easiest way to make your food edible, but it also adds a ton of unhealthy fat to your recipes. Go easy on the oil and opt for alternative cooking methods like steaming or baking for healthier dishes that taste just as good, if not better.
3) Using creamy salad dressings
You eat salad to be healthy, right? Well, guess what: that bottle of ranch dressing you’re holding, which is chock-full of fatty oils, eggs, and preservatives, promises the exact opposite. Whip up homemade vinaigrette for your greens using extra virgin olive oil and vinegar instead. It’s a lot healthier, and you’ll know what exactly goes in your dressing.
4) Overdosing on MSG
Adding a sprinkle or two of MSG or monosodium glutamate is a foolproof way to add a bit of flavor to everything from caldereta to fried rice. However, it allegedly causes obesity, neurological disorders, cardiac problems, kidney ailments, and even cancer. (Yikes!) There’s a massive debate about it, but to be on the safe side, it might be better if you use salt, pepper, and all-natural spices instead to add flavor to your food.
5) Adding ready-made sauces
Ready-made sauces are practically pantry essentials here in the Philippines, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they’re not as healthy as they seem. Take a look at the ingredients list and you’ll see flavorings, colorings, additives, and other stuff you could totally do without. This year, get over your laziness and make the time to create your own sauces from scratch—you’ll end up with healthier and tastier dishes that actually cost less than the store-bought options.
6) Constantly stirring food
Just because it’s a stir-fry dish doesn’t mean you should take the "stir" part a bit too literally: Over-stirring can break your food apart, making it mushy and a lot less appetizing. Unless the recipe specifically instructs you to go on a stirring spree, don’t be scared to let your food sit still for a bit—trust us, it’s not gonna burn!
7) Using metal utensils on non-stick cookware
Just the thought of a metal spatula scraping on a Teflon pan is enough to make a true Teflon fan cringe in horror. Metal utensils can scratch a non-stick pan’s surface, which would ruin its non-stick ability. Use wooden or plastic utensils instead.
8) Overdoing the breading
Your chicken will still turn out fine even if you don’t drown it in a load of breadcrumbs before frying. We swear our life on it. The cooking technique doesn’t really serve any purpose aside from adding texture, and it has practically zero health benefits. If you really need to give your food an extra crunch, use healthier substitutes like ground rolled oats or cereal.
9) Using too much processed meats
Yes, hotdogs are awesome, Spam is a life-saver, and bacon is manna from heaven, but that doesn’t mean we should consume them daily. They contain significant amounts of sodium and fat, which means they're really not that healthy (case in point: according to research, bacon can cause cancer). Munch on these in moderation, and always go for fresh meats from the wet market.
10) Choosing the "refined" stuff
By "refined," we’re not talking about sophisticated grub like caviar: It’s a term for food—mostly fatty, carb-y stuff like white sugar, white rice, and white flour—that have been rid of most of their nutrients to make them taste better and have longer shelf lives. As much as possible, go for less processed products like muscovado sugar, brown rice, and whole grains. You’ll be consuming less calories and more fiber, making your digestive system tons happier if you do.