Cooking Basics


The more you cook, the easier it gets. Learning new ways to prepare foods lets you be creative—and keeps your family from getting bored with the same dish over and over.

What Is a Lean Protein?

Protein comes from meat, fish, chicken, pork, nuts, beans, and dairy foods like cheese and yogurt. Most people eat enough protein, but many people eat protein that is high in fat. When you are shopping, look for these lean proteins:

  • Chicken breast without the skin
  • Pork chops
  • Fish (Any fish is a good choice. Frozen, raw fish can be budget-friendly.)
  • Beans (Buying dried beans is a great way to save money.)
  • Eggs

Basics of Roasting

Roasting is a healthy way to cook meat, chicken, fish. And vegetables too.

How to Roast:

Step 1: Lightly coat the food with oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings.

Step 2: Place food in a pan. Use a roasting pan for meat and a cookie sheet for vegetables.

Step 3: Place the pan in the center of a hot oven. Oven temperatures will depend on what kind of food you are roasting. Roast:

  • Vegetables at 375 degrees. 
  • Large pieces of meat at low (250 degrees) to moderate heat (375 degrees).
  • Smaller pieces of meat, chicken, or fish at high heat (above 400 degrees). 

Source: Cooking Light

Mom tip

“I make roast chicken on Sunday, and then during the week I use the leftovers to make chicken soup.” –Florinda


Basics of Grilling

Grilling is a great way to cook without a lot of added oil or fat. You can grill meat, chicken, pork, fish, vegetables, and fruit. There are different kinds of grills. Some grills use gas, and some use charcoal. Follow the instructions that came with your grill. Make sure your grill is in a safe place before you get started. 

How to grill corn like a pro. To prepare, pull husk down, remove silk. Soak for 15 minutes in cold water. Pull husk up. Grill for 10 to 20 minutes at a temperature of 350 degrees, turn regularly.


How to grill peppers like a pro. To prepare, cut in half the long way. Brush with olive oil. Grill for 6 to 10 minutes skin side down, 3 to 4 minutes on the side at a temperature of 400 to 425 degrees.


How to grill squash like a pro. To prepare, cut in thirds or halves. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes per side at a temperature of 400 to 425 degrees.

Basics of steaming

Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook. You can steam fish, vegetables, and even fruit. Make sure to open the lid away from you so the hot steam doesn’t cause a burn.

How to Steam Anything

You can buy a steamer at most grocery stores.

Step 1: Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and place on the stove.

Step 2: Place a steamer pot or basket inside the pot of water. The water should be under the steamer. The food should cook from the steam but not sit in the boiling water.

Step 3: Add the food and cover the pot.

Step 4: Bring the water to a boil.

Step 5: Once the water is boiling, lower the heat.

Step 6: Cook until the food is done. Timing will depend on what you’re cooking.

You can also use your oven to steam food by creating packets out of foil or wax paper. Check out this recipe for baked fish and vegetables that uses an oven and foil packet for steaming.

Mom tip

“Check the water level when you are steaming something. If you let it go too long the water will all boil away.” –Seana


Baking vs. Frying

Fried food uses a lot of oil, which is not healthy. Baking is a great way to make food that is much healthier and still tastes great.

Fried Favorites Made Healthier 

Mom tip

“Try making your own fries at home. Cut a potato or sweet potato into strips, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir them every once and awhile to get them crispy. They are healthier and cheaper!” –Desiree