Many people learn their first baking and cooking skills by spending time with their parents. This could be learning old recipes, frying eggs properly, and enjoying the time together.

You’ve probably learned more than just great recipes from your parent. You’ve also likely picked up valuable tips and tricks to make your time in the kitchen easier. To find out what wisdom has been passed down through generations and the relationships that have shaped them, I spoke to a few people about their best kitchen tips and lessons from the mothers in their lives. Take inspiration from this warm-hearted wisdom, and call your mom (or aunt or sister, friend, grandma, or whatever) to share it with them. Tell her how much you love her and what she has taught you.

1.Get started, smart.

It’s worth doing a bit of preparation, such as preparing your tools for maximum performance. It’s not uncommon for mothers to insist on keeping their knives sharp. Laura Neva, a mother from St. Paul, Minnesota, said that her daughter, Laura, is adamant about this. She told Laura, “You will be taken to the ER if you have a dull knife.” If your knife slips while you cut food or cannot cut through paper, you know it’s dull. This guide will show you how to do it yourself or hire someone else.

2.Learn when to say goodbye and when to stretch your ingredients.

Prep work is also necessary for the ingredients you are working with. Adam Tow, Minneapolis, Minnesota, says, “Learn how to tell the difference between a ‘best before’ and an ‘expiration day.” Is the yogurt ready to be thrown away, or can it last a few days? Understanding the difference can affect the flavor of your cooking and help you avoid food poisoning.

It’s not worth pushing out the date on a package of deli turkey to save money. Instead, invest in a system to help you use your food before it goes to waste.

3.Connect to nature.

You can also make your kitchen time more efficient by remembering where the majority of food comes from, Mother Earth. Jessica Nentwich, Adkins, Texas, says, “My mama was a hippie, so I’ve learned that] foods grown in the dirt taste better.” I learned how to cook authentic, delicious food and enjoy it beyond what was possible. Our moms are our first mothers. They teach us how to eat, relate and be with mother earth. Your mother was the first person to make you feel like you had a piece of something larger than yourself when you stood outside and took in a deep breath.

Do you want to be more connected to Mother Earth through your daily food? To infuse more earthy, vibrant flavors into your food, visit your local farmer’s markets and make friends with the vendors.

4.You might try new things and keep the pizza shop on speed dial.

Even if the outcome isn’t what you expected, having fun in the kitchen can make every experience more enjoyable. “My mom is constantly researching recipes, trying new ingredients, and trying new techniques. Sometimes they fail, and she will just say, “Oh well, let’s order pizza!” Hannah Little, Durham, North Carolina, says her penchant for not taking food too seriously is always refreshing.

Relaxation should be the goal of your kitchen. You don’t have to be perfect every time. If you have epic failures, follow Hannah’s mother’s example and order takeout. That’s all part of the fun.

5.Take your nose off the ground!

Allison Marie (New Orleans) says that her mom uses all of her senses in the kitchen. Allison says, “Check your nose, especially when multitasking.” Allison shares, “If you notice the smell [becoming stronger or changing] while something is cooking, it’s probably done.” This also applies to the “oops!” that comes from something that has been cooking for too long.

Don’t be afraid to get to know your kitchen through your senses, regardless of whether you notice something in your fridge or oven. 

6.You are entitled to have “nice” dinnerware whenever it suits you.

This tip is particularly timely, given the current pandemic. Many people continue to call their favorite restaurants to order takeout and save time cooking. Caitlin Doyle, Seattle, Washington, says, “Plate your delivery or takeout food on cute dishes.” The lessons learned from her mom about the presentation can be applied to any future entertainment. “Cloth napkins, a tablecloth, and a tablecloth elevate any dinner party or happy hour.” You’re worth it!

7.Tiny tweaks can make all the difference.

The small things that matter and moms are well aware of this. Amanda White from Minneapolis shares that you should microwave lemons and limes for 5-10 seconds to release more juice. You can still roll the citrus around on the counter, but it is easier to cut into the fruit if you have the technology that works smarter than you do.

8.Keep your kitchen spotless while you are at work.

Two things are made in the kitchen: meals or messes. You can save time by wiping down your pans while you cook or bake a cake. 

You can make it easier by using some simple practices whenever you cook. These include emptying your dishwasher immediately, wiping off surfaces, and cleaning up after baking. It will soon become automatic, and your kitchen will be grateful for it.

9.Take care of yourself.

You should have fun in the kitchen, even if it means eating “mom-only” treats at the end of the day. Keep the chocolate-covered potato chips in a cupboard above your fridge. Sarah Watson from Minneapolis says this will ensure that the chips are hidden away so little ones can’t reach them. The ideal kitchen is available to everyone who can help with meal prep and cleanup. However, you might want to keep certain things (such as your favorite treats!) You might prefer to keep some things for yourself, and that’s okay.

Don’t worry if you don’t enjoy spending much time in the kitchen. 

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