Learning how to cook requires dedication, patience, and a willingness to eat the batches that aren’t quite ready for prime time. Learning new techniques for cooking is a life-long learning experience and your education begins here. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you on your way to cooking success.

When it comes to cooking, try to do all of your preparatory work before you even start cooking. Not only will this make your cooking experience much more desirable and stress free, but you will also look a lot more professional to anybody that you may be trying to impress.

Avoid lumpy gravy! Don’t make the mistake of getting ready to serve the gravy, only to discover it’s full of lumps. Simply pour the gravy through a fine strainer and reheat if necessary. To avoid lumps in the first place, slow down the cooking process – you are probably adding the liquid too quickly and the heat may be too high. Always remember to whisk the gravy constantly while it is cooking.

One important tip to remember focuses on who you cook for rather than what to cook. If you are cooking for your boss, a date, or someone really important, try to refrain from testing out new recipes and new ingredients. You should refrain because you have not had a chance to test and perfect the recipe, which may result in cooking errors and unexpected results.

When baking or roasting, use olive oil to seal the outside of meats so that juices are less likely to escape during the cooking process. Be sure and cover both sides of the meat that you are cooking before seasoning. The olive oil will coat it nicely and also add some flavor.

Keep portions small when you are serving multiple course meals. Many people make the mistake of overdoing it when the are portioning courses. If you fill your guests up on salad or bread, they will have no room left for dessert. They may not even have room left for the main course at that rate.

One of the first steps in becoming a better cook is to better understand cooking in general. The best way to do this is to simply think about your meals every time you eat in a restaurant. When you eat something you find tasty in a restaurant, think about why it tastes so good.

This is a great tip to use when making salad dressings. If you want to make a dressing that is creamy and rich, but without adding all of the fat, simply use a mixture of half mayonnaise and half greek yogurt. The greek yogurt is a healthy alternative to using all mayonnaise as there is less cholesterol.

Feel free to play around. Recipes should be a guideline; you can do whatever you want. Don’t like a certain ingredient, Try using a different one. But remember, some ingredients are integral to certain recipes, and you will figure out which ones you can’t ever omit by experimenting over time.

Include onion in your spaghetti sauce, tacos, casseroles or other dishes without displeasing picky eaters by grating the onion before adding it to the pan. The onion will essentially dissolve into the other food, adding great onion flavor without including large chunks. Use a metal box grater for the best results.

The best part of cooking is that you can eat your mistakes. Don’t be scared about trying something new. Even Julia Childs and Wolfgang Puck have made complete failures of dishes at one point or another. Cooking is all about learning and experimentation until you learn what works for you, so give it a shot!