If you are living in an apartment or have access to a kitchen, you may be cooking for yourself for the first time. When it comes to food and cooking, it’s important to know how to clean, prepare, and store food in order to keep from getting food poisoning or injuring yourself. Below are some tips to get you started.
Invest in a good cookbook or cooking app. Cookbooks contain more than just recipes. They often have guides for food storage, cooking temperatures, and other useful information.
Keep your hands and cooking surfaces clean. Before you start preparing any food, wash your hands and your cooking surfaces with soap and water or cleanser.
Keep knives properly sharpened. If they can’t cut a tomato, they are unsafe.
Know how to use a knife the correct way.
- Secure your cutting board so it doesn’t slip
- Keep fingers away from the blade and slice down onto the board and away from your hand
- Keep your fingers vertical to hold down your food with your fingertips. This will prevent you from accidentally cutting your finger.
Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, chicken, eggs, and seafood away from ready-to-eat foods like produce.
Cook thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to test doneness. As a guide:
- beef, pork, veal and lamb=145 degrees
- ground beef, pork, veal, or lamb=160 degrees
- poultry=165 degrees
- seafood=145 degrees
- eggs=160 degrees
Store food properly. Make sure perishables have not expired.
Refrigerate food promptly. According to the FDA, you should not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours and no more than one hour if the temperature outside is greater than 90 degrees F.
Take a cooking class. Some campuses offer cooking classes, which are a fun way to lean the basics of cooking, not only to learn safety measures, but also to learn how to prepare healthy meals on a budget.