Eating right, whether you’re doing it to lose weight, build muscle or simply to be as healthy as possible, is extremely important. While a smart meal plan is essential if you want to eat well, you also need to know how to work efficiently in the kitchen if you don’t have a private chef at home.
Knowing your way around the kitchen means knowing the tools you’ll be using every single day. Fancy blenders, food processors, zesters and other gadgets are fine, but you’re going to do most of your work with a few basic knives. Use this guide to get to know your knives and what they do well. Sure, they’re all sharp, but not every knife is up to each task in the kitchen.
The chef’s knife is the knife you’re going to reach for time and time again in the kitchen. If the name didn’t give it away, the chef’s knife is by the far the most versatile tool you’re going to have at your disposal. Use your chef’s knife to chop vegetables and ingredients you use all the time like onions, garlic, carrots, celery and fresh herbs. You can also use your chef’s knife for making fancy cuts like dices and minces.
While there might be better knives in the block for tasks like cutting meat, you might find yourself doing things like slicing a steak or giving a tomato a quick dice. As long as you keep your chef’s knife sharp this shouldn’t be a problem, and even the best chefs do it when they’re in a hurry.
The efficiency of the big blade on a chef’s knife is great for working on a handful of onions, but the chef’s knife can be a little large to use for some tasks. That’s where the utility knife shines.
Use your utility knife for things like slicing sandwiches in half, cutting a few carrots for crudité and for preparing garnishes for finished dishes. If you find yourself needing to do a last-minute task in the kitchen and your chef’s knife is dirty, this one will probably do the job just fine.
The paring knife is often overlooked in the home kitchen because of its size. People that have one often tend to use it incorrectly too. Your paring knife is there to help you perform tasks that require some real precision, not to do things like chop potatoes and carrots. Use it to peel an apple, trim vegetables and fruits and take care of tasks like hulling strawberries.
Don’t forget to sharpen your paring knife either. This is a mistake a lot of people make, especially if they don’t use it every single day. A dull paring knife is an accident waiting to happen, especially when you’re doing something like peeling an apple you’re holding in your hand.
Bread knives often come in knife sets and knife blocks you buy at the store and online, but not everybody uses them the right way. Your bread knife is best used to cut things that are relatively soft, despite its sharp appearance.
Use your bread knife to slice loaves of bread without crushing, tearing or ripping them apart. Bread knives also work very well for citrus fruit like lemons and limes, as well as soft, fleshy produce like ripe tomatoes.
The carving knife, sometimes referred to as a slicing knife, has a long, thin blade that’s ideal for slicing cooked meat, poultry and fish. The length of the blade is particularly helpful for working with bigger pieces of meat, ensuring you get clean slices even when you’re dealing with a pot roast or oversized piece of steak like a porterhouse or rib-eye.
Your carving knife probably could do double-duty and chop a vegetable here and there, but doing that is a mistake. You want to keep that carving knife as sharp as possible so it glides through even the toughest cuts of meat.
You can probably already picture a meat cleaver, but not everybody knows how to use one. This heavy knife is there to help you slice through bones and get through big cuts of meat, though it isn’t particularly good for slicing.
Think of your meat cleaver like a big saw. It doesn’t make the best precision cuts, but when you’re working with a slab of meat, you need something with the size and weight to get the job done before cooking or making finer cuts. You can also use your meat cleaver to roughly chop vegetables that won’t yield to lesser knives.
Download Meal Plan Magic to learn more about cooking and eating well at home. Having the right kitchen tools is important, but so is knowing what your body needs to stay healthy.