Different meal hacks to dish out

Squeeze the day with these flavorful cooking tips

Allison Vanderzanden | Lifestyle Editor

As someone who is still learning to cook, I know that no matter how closely I follow a recipe, some dishes just turn out bland. Experimenting with cooking can be intimidating, but luckily, there are some easy flavor hacks that can instantly level up mealtime. Here are some quick tips and tricks to make meals less boring and more flavorful.

Always strive to use the highest quality ingredients. This means shopping for in season produce, buying locally ⏤ such as from farmers markets ⏤ and using fresh ingredients. Check expiration dates on dried herbs and spices — though they may still be usable near their expiration date, their flavor will be quite diminished.

A little acid goes a long way; according to eatright.org, acid such as that from citrus fruits or vinegar helps elevate the flavor of a dish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto a salad or fish dish, add some citrus zest to dessert or make a marinade with some red or white wine vinegar.

To step up the vegetable game, try roasting them. Toss vegetables of choice in some olive oil, then spread them out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle salt, pepper, minced garlic or herbs like thyme and rosemary on top, then cook at 425 ºF until tender. Get creative and toss vegetables in different spices, such as dijon mustard or curry powder.

Looking for more flavor in meats? Try making a homemade marinade or brine. Soaking meat in a delicious, savory sauce infuses the meat with any flavor of choice. Find simple recipes online for sweet, savory or spicy marinades — whatever the mouth desires.

Another tip for improving meats is to brown them; this strategy involves using high heat to lock in naturally occurring juicy flavors. Heat up the pan thoroughly and salt the meat before dropping it in the pan to create a crust on the outside. Finish cooking the meat through in the oven.

Don’t be afraid to get creative — even if mistakes are made, experimenting with different flavors and techniques is the only way to improve one’s cooking skills.

Contact the author at avanderzanden19@mail.wou.edu

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