Cooking might be something you do in order to prepare your food for your daily meals, but the truth is that cooking is much more than that. Cooking is a way to show creativity, scientific knowledge, and people skills all at once. Enhancing your cooking skills means enhancing your life. Try these tips, and make your meals, and life, that much better.

When cooking any recipe, use the best ingredients that you can afford. Splurge a little on imported cheeses or better quality meats when you can, so that you can experience a restaurant, quality-tasting meal at home. To enhance the experience even further, try to creatively plate up the meal with a little thought, for something different every now and then.

Cooking with skewers can provide very beneficial if you use them properly. Metal skewers will work better if they are twisted or squared.

Make sure you are storing your herbs and spices in a cool, dark space. Many factors can cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor. Light, humidity, and heat can all cause them to lose some of their flare. To avoid this, make sure you are storing your herbs somewhere like a cool cabinet.

For stir fry with an authentic Chinese touch, try using their velveting technique! Prepare a mixture of corn starch, egg whites, seasonings and sherry and set your pork, chicken or shrimp in it for about half an hour. Then, blanch it in hot oil or boiling water for shiny, tender and delicious restaurant quality stir fry.

Ensure that your baked fish is moist and tender by cooking “en papillote”. This is a French technique that refers to fish baked in a parchment-paper packet. Place the fish and vegetables of your choice in the center of a large piece of parchment-paper. Bring the edges of the paper together, crease them tightly to form a seal, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees. The fish and vegetables steam in the packet, keeping them moist and tender, and creating a tasty, healthy dish. (Clean-up is just as easy – simply throw away the paper after eating!)

You can make healthier mashed potatoes with the same taste and texture you love by substituting cauliflower for potatoes in equal proportions. You will not taste the blandness of cauliflower, but notice a new interesting flavor instead. Cauliflower has the same texture and color as mashed potatoes, so the dish will be transformed into one that has more vegetables and fewer calories.

To cook healthier, try replacing highly refined goods with whole-grain alternatives when you bake. Enriched white flour and other such refined grain products are low in nutritional value. Even replacing a fraction of them with natural whole-grain products will improve the healthiness of the finished dish. Consult packaging directions for specific replacements; whole-grain products do not always replace refined ones at a 1:1 ratio.

Marinate meat in a bag. A lot of recipes call for meat to be marinated in a dish for a few hours, turning occasionally. This can be frustrating, as the meat is never completely coated by the marinade. A better way is to throw the meat and marinade in a ziploc bag, remove as much air as possible, and shake well to coat the meat. Place it in the fridge and simply flip the bag occasionally.

When making sandwiches, follow this tip. Take a portion of mayonnaise and spread it on the bread from corner to corner. Spreading from corner to corner rather than the widely used method of spreading down the middle allows every area of the bread to be evenly coated with mayonnaise, making a more flavorful sandwich.

Every good cook recognizes the importance of keeping a well stocked pantry. You should have quantities of flour, salt, oil, sugar, and spices on hand at all times. Good cooking depends on it. There is nothing more frustrating than to get down to that final step and find you are missing a necessary spice.

One of the fun things about cooking is that it is always new. There are always new recipes to try, new skills to learn, and new ways of doing things. You can truly enjoy the art of preparing a meal and it’s something that you get to do every day of your life.