The Best Cooking Tips We Learned from Our Moms

updated Jun 22, 2019
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We’ve gleaned plenty of smart tips from recipes and cookbooks over the years, but to this day some of the very best kitchen wisdom has come from our moms. Watching the way Mom shops, preps, and feeds her family (not to mention her signature recipes!) has had a big impact on the way we cook and feed ourselves today. Here, we’ve rounded up the best cooking advice that we’ve received from our moms.

Recipes are meant to be altered & cooked the way you like.

Baking aside, my mom has never been one to follow a recipe the way it’s written. She usually leaves the measuring cups and spoons in the drawer, and adds the spices and ingredients that she thinks will make the dish best. She’s always been one to take a recipe as more of a suggestion, giving it her own twist, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make it taste great to her. And for the most part, that’s the same way I cook today. – Kelli Foster, Associate Food Editor

Family dinner is a sacred time.

I always joke that I learned to cook because my mom was a mediocre cook and that I was tired of eating Hamburger Helper. The truth is, my mom was just a single mom with a tiny budget and she was doing her best with her limited resources — both time- and spending-wise. Still, we had dinner together most nights, so she definitely taught me the power of a family meal. No matter our circumstances — sometimes she was working two jobs and going to school — she always made time to eat with us. – Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor

Credit: Joe Lingeman
Jacques Torres Cookies

Always keep a bag of chocolate chips in the pantry.

My mom has given me a lot of kitchen wisdom, but the one tip that has always stuck with me is to keep a bag of Nestlé chocolate chips on hand in case of a surprise snow day. Growing up in snowy Ohio, it served us well many times; no snow day was complete without a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Needless to say, my friends were always jealous. – Grace Elkus, Senior Food Editor

If you meal prep one thing, make it pasta.

The easiest meal prep item starts with a big vat of pasta. It sounds so small, but there’s really something to it because if there’s pasta in the fridge, you’ll always have a meal. – Ariel Knutson, News & Culture Editor

Credit: Joe Lingeman

More Parm, always.

My mom didn’t start cooking until much later in her life, but her general advice has always been “You can never have too much Parm!” There are always at least three bags of shredded Parmesan in her fridge. She adds it to everything, with abandon, and has no regrets! – Lauren Kodiak, Managing Editor

The best use for dish gloves isn’t necessarily washing the dishes.

Not exactly a cooking tip, but my mom taught me to use rubber dishwashing gloves when I can’t open a jar (which I wrote a post on). – Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

Our favorite dish gloves: Pink Waterblock Gloves, $9 per pair

Credit: sdominick/Getty Images

Make a plan before grocery shopping.

My mom taught me how to grocery shop and coupon clip like nobody’s business. I never buy more than I know I am going to use, and that has made for some creative dinners that are now nostalgic favorites. Pasta with sautéed broccoli stems and sausage! Tuna stuffed peppers! And more … – Lauren Masur, Staff Writer

Read more money-saving tips from Lauren’s mom: The Best Money-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips, According to My Mom

Always take a peek in the oven before turning it on.

Always check to make sure only the things you intend to cook are in the oven. She’ll never live down the day she started a tiny fire with an oven mitt! – Kaitlin Garske, Senior Social Media Manager

Always season your food.

Better to over-season than under-season. – Daria Perrone, Sales and Research Strategy

Your turn! What’s the best cooking tip you’ve learned from the moms in your life?