I know I can’t be the only one who is in awe of her mother’s cooking skills. Every night, my mom manages to create a delicious meal while barely even glancing at a recipe — without any cooking training whatsoever.

It makes sense, though. After cooking for hungry mouths most nights a week for close to two decades, one is bound to pick up a few secrets that make the process easier. The best part is, these secrets are so easy, even college students can learn from them.

1. White Wine Sauce

Gif courtesy of tumblr.com

Never eat bland fish again. After cooking white fish, pour white wine into the pan that was used to cook the fish (don’t clean pan before making the sauce!). Let the wine sit for a moment to allow alcohol to start cooking out, then add lemon juice and as much butter as one sees fit (go on, do it Julia Child-style — what have you got to lose?).

Stir together and pour over the fish. Then all that’s left to do is brag to your friends that you can successfully make a white wine sauce. It works for pasta, too.

2. Salad Dressing

Gif courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

We’ve all been there: we finally decide to be healthy and make a salad, only to find out that we don’t have any dressing. And the only thing worse than a salad is a naked one.

Well, have no fear. Anyone can make their own dressing (yes, I’m talking about you). First, mix together dijon, grain, and honey mustard. Add balsamic vinegar. Finally, WHILE mixing, add olive oil until you reach the consistency that you desire. Voila!

3. Leftovers for Days


Photo courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

Have some left over protein and vegetables that are about to go bad? Add some rice and soy sauce and you have fried rice. Add some broth and pasta and you have homemade soup. Leftovers are always a good idea, but now you can add some class to yesterday’s meal.

4. Save Your Stale Bread


Photo courtesy of the-savvy-kitchen.com

Still in the mood to reduce food waste? Get out that old bread. Now, I get it — no one wants to eat stale bread. No amount of butter can solve that problem, unfortunately. However, there is still hope.

Cut that bread into bite sized squares, and throw them in a frying pan with some oil and spices. Watch and flip the pieces until they are golden brown on each side, and you have yourself some croutons for that salad you just made a homemade dressing for. This works with leftover pizza, too.

5. Steak

Gif courtesy of tumblr.com

You’re being very adventurous and are attempting to cook steak. Things are going well, the meat is cooking, and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Then, you get worried. How will you know if the meat is done?

You don’t want to ruin the beautiful piece of meat by cutting into it, but you also don’t want to over/undercook it. Here’s the secret: a steak is ready if it is the same firmness as the skin of your palm below your thumb. So give that sucker a poke; it won’t bite.

#SpoonTip: This works best for cooking meat to medium. Trick may differ depending on how you like your meat cooked.

6. Timing is Everything

Gif courtesy of tumblr.com

When cooking multiple things at once for one meal, it can all get a little chaotic and confusing. The key is to look at the big picture before you start anything. Look at everything you are making — what takes the longest to cook? You don’t want to have something get cold because it took a lot less time than you expected, and you still have to make the other two thirds of your meal. Whatever takes the most time goes first, and so on from there.

7. No-Stick Success

Gif courtesy of tumblr.com

Ever gotten up the motivation to make something only to find you don’t have any Pam for your pans? #Firstworldbakingproblems. Rub some butter all over that pan; get your fingers dirty. But don’t stop there, oh no. Pour some flour into the pan after the butter. While rotating the pan, tap the sides to make the flour cover every inch. This works even better than the spray, plus you look like a baking boss doing it.

Mothers truly are amazing. Food automatically tastes better when you know a mom cooked it. When you start to cook for yourself and others, if you’re ever in a cooking pickle, just think like a mom. Use these tricks to wow your friends and guests. Need an impromptu fish sauce? No problem. Boom, you look like a cooking pro. *Self-five*