Category Archives: Cooking Tips and Tricks

Cooking Articles for Everyone

Be a Man. Learn to Cook. The Road to Good Cooking

Learn to cook | Long Road to becoming a good cook

Photo by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Road to El Chalten) via Wikimedia Commons – Modified by Carl Dunn.

Be a Man. Learn to Cook.

Me…I like immediate results. I want to go from novice to expert in 5 minutes. However if there is one thing I have learned is that rarely happens. Whether it is golf, fishing, car repair, or the computer, it takes time and practice to “master” a skill. Cooking is the same.

When I first started I was a complete novice in the kitchen. I could barely use a can opener and I regularly burned toast. Life dragged me into the kitchen kicking and screaming. Over time, I became a good cook. Not a world famous master Chef but a “damn good cook”. Here are the most important lessons I learned along the way.

Start Slow

Learn to cook by making small changes. Cook (I mean really cook) one meal a week. Chop fresh garlic instead of using garlic powder or salt. Buy one fresh vegetable every trip to the grocery store. The road to a healthier diet and being a good cook is not a super highway. Becoming a good cook is more like a dirt road with many ruts.

Embrace Your Mistakes

Human nature tells us to avoid mistakes and that mistakes are bad. However, as you begin to master the kitchen you will make many mistakes. Even as you become proficient in the kitchen you will make mistakes. Mastering the old “Learn from your Mistakes” adage is key to your success in the kitchen. Julia Child, first renown cooking show host, was famous for breezing over her on-camera mistakes.

Video 1 – The Omelette Flip      Video 2 – Learn to Cook Wisdom from Julia 

Remember Your Success

Remembering your kitchen successes is just as important as learning from your mistakes. Cook a great cheeseburger, perfect eggs, or a succulent chicken…Remember it. Decide what made your food great. Was it the ingredients? Was it the way you cooked it? Was it how you presented it on the plate? Remember the “good parts” and repeat them in other recipes.

Learn to Cook from Masters

We live in a media saturated world. The Internet, Cable TV, Streaming media and eBooks. Find cooking show hosts who intrigue you. Visit “foodie” blogs that interest you. Read cookbooks that relate to you. I started with “simple” meals and ideas. Cooking shows, blogs and cookbooks with elaborate recipes did not interest me. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cooking Shows: 30 minute meals (Rachael Ray) and Simply Ming (Ming Tsai)
  • Food Blogs: The Pioneer Women (Ree Drummond) and Summer Tomato (Darya Pino)
  • Cookbooks: How to Cook Everything (Mark Bittman) and A Man, a Can, a Plan (David Joachim)

Practice, Practice, Practice

This is a “no brainer”. The more time you spend in the kitchen, the better cook you will become. In the beginning, you may feel like you are wasting your time especially when that microwave dinner or that can of chili is just a few steps away. What can I say? Cooking is a skill. If you want to master that skill, you can learn to cook with a little practice.


Men (and women too) love to adjust, modify and tweak many things. Recipes and cooking is the same. Experimenting with new recipes or new cooking techniques is by far the best part of cooking. Learn to cook by asking “How can I make it better?”. When the experiment goes bad, refer to the Embrace Your Mistakes section. When it works well, refer to the Remember Your Success section.

Learn to Cook Starter Kit


Crock Pot Stew with Meatballs


We live in a cold northern state. Nothing says Winter like a hot bowl of beef stew. Our crock pot stew with meatballs recipe is a family favorite. Best of all, this recipe so simple to make. Freeze the leftovers for the next snowy, 5 below zero day.

Crock Pot Stew with Meatballs
Looking for a great crock pot stew recipe? Our Meatball Stew recipe will delight your family. Easy simple ingredients. Delicious results.
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
  1. 1 lbs of Ground Beef (80/20)
  2. 4 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
  3. 2 tbsp. of Spicy Mustard
  4. 16 oz package of mixed vegetables (frozen)
  5. Beef Stock
  6. Crushed Chili Peppers
  7. Franks Hot Sauce ™
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the meat, Worcestershire sauce and spicy mustard.
  2. Form into meatballs and place on baking sheet.
  3. Put in oven at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and put meatballs in the crock pot.
  5. Add enough beef stock to cover 3/4 of the meatballs.
  6. Sprinkle in some crushed peppers and add some hot sauce.
  7. Add the bag of mixed vegetables. (Try to break them up before adding them)
  8. Add enough beef stock so you can see the liquid.
  9. Add more crushed peppers and hot sauce.
  10. Cook for 6 hours (low) or 3 hours (high).
  1. Stir occasionally
  2. Add more beef stock if necessary
Cooking for Guys

 Keys to Success

  • Use Higher Fat Ground Beef
    I know this goes against our message of healthy diet but cooking crock pot stew is a very different process. Meat that cooks 3 to 6 hours will breakdown and lose its’ juicy taste. We recommend 80/20 Ground Round.
  • Preseason the Meatballs
    Adding Worcestershire sauce and spicy mustard will give your meatballs extra flavor that can be lost with crock pot stew recipes. This does require a little extra effort, but your taste buds will thank you later.
  • Pre-cook the Meatballs
    Bake your meatballs in the oven 15 to 20 minutes. This will help your meatballs to keep their shape during the long cooking process. Alternatively, you can brown the meatballs in a large skillet.
  • Use Frozen Vegetables
    Do not thaw your vegetables. The cooking process will perform this for you. Just dump the bag of frozen vegetables in the crock pot. This, in part, is why crock pot stew so simple to make. We do, however, recommend breaking the vegetables apart as best you can.
  • Add Distinctive Flavorings to the Stock
    Choose a limited number of distinctive flavorings. Again, crock pot cooking will blend these flavors together. Be careful not to over-spice your crock pot stew. We recommend hot sauce and crushed chili peppers. Feel free to experiment but remember “Less is More” in the cooking world.

Crock Pot Stew Story

Crockpot Meatball Stew - Dinty Moore Syndrome

Adapted from MeSoHungry Website

As a long time Boy Scout, I often included Dinty Moore™ Beef Stew on the campout menus. And why not. Open the can. Throw it in a pot. Twenty minutes later you had food. Unfortunately, the Dinty Moore™ habit stuck with me into my adult life. If I wanted beef stew, I got out the can opener. By far, the Dinty Moore™ syndrome was the toughest to overcome. Just a mere 5 years ago, I made my first batch of crock pot stew. After the first taste, I donated my extensive collection of can stew and chili to the local food drive.

Types of Kitchen Knives Guide – Names and Uses

Let’s face it. There are many different types of kitchen knives. Most household kitchens do not have a full set of knives. And you know what? Even if they did have a full set, most cooks only use a few choice knives on a daily basis.

True Story: When I first started in the kitchen I owned 3 steak knives, a paring knife and a cheap chef’s knife. All of them were purchased at the “Dollar Store”. Total value was $12.00.

Most Popular Types of Kitchen Knives

 Types of Kitchen Knives | Chef Knife

The Chef Knife is by far the most popular knife in the kitchen. This is the “do all” knife. The tip is designed to make smaller precision cuts. The blade near the handle is for chopping vegetables. A good Chef Knife is well balanced and feels comfortable in your hand. It also serves to fend off zombie attacks.

Types of Kitchen Knives | Santoku Knife

The Santoku Knife is very popular among cooks. It serves the same purpose as the Chef Knife but has a distinctive Japanese style. The fluted blade makes clean up easy. I prefer the Santoku style over the Chef Knife. Unless you are Jackie Chan, the Santoku Knife is less effective against zombies.

Types of Kitchen Knives | Paring Knife

The Paring Knife is designed for small cuts. Cutting fruit and soft vegetables like mushrooms & green beans are typical uses of this knife. Due to its smaller design the paring knife is safer around children and people who are “knife challenged”. (i.e. Drunk people cutting limes or lemons)

An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives
Veteran cook Chad Ward provides an in-depth guide to the most important tool in the kitchen, including how to choose the best kitchen knives in your price range, practical tutorials on knife skills, a step-by-step section on sharpening, and more. Available on Amazon Today!

Special Purpose Types of Kitchen Knives 

 Types of Kitchen Knives | Filet Knife

The Filet Knife is designed for meat especially fish. It is very sharp so the knife can make exact cuts. Use it for slicing the fish from the boney part or trimming fat from chicken or beef. Even though it has a long thin blade this knife causes more injuries and bloody fingers.

Types of Kitchen Knives | Bread Knife

The Bread Knife features a long serrated blade for cutting through bread products. A gentle sawing motion is used. The Bread Knife is larger than most kitchen knives but its blade is designed to be flexible. This knife is not suited for other cutting chores in the kitchen.

Types of Kitchen Knives | Tomato Knife

The Tomato Slicer is made for soft vegetables such as tomatoes and bell peppers. The blade is thin allowing you to make small petite cuts. I love putting bell peppers in many recipes. This knife makes the job easy.

Miscellaneous Types of Kitchen Knives

Types of Kitchen Knives | Meat Cleaver

The Meat Cleaver is used for large heavy duty chopping chores. Cubing steaks or chicken and cutting pineapple or eggplant are typical uses. The Meat Cleaver is a favorite with Hollywood directors also. Cue the eerie music.

 Types of Kitchen Knives | Pizza Cutter

The Pizza Cutter is a staple in any kitchen. The Pizza Cutter is not always considered part of a kitchen knife set. However, no self respecting college student, bachelor or man-caver would be caught dead without one. While it does not function well with other cutting tasks, it does slice a pizza well.

Types of Kitchen Knives | Potato Peeler

The Potato Peeler is very functional. Many recipes call for peeled carrots or cucumbers. This is another kitchen item not regularly considered a knife but do not under estimate the value of a good peeler.

Judging the Quality of Knives – Good versus Cheap

Many people do not pay attention to the quality of their knives. They focus on price. However, you can judge the quality of a knife by its blade, bolster and tang.

The Bolster is a metal band where the blade meets the handle.

How to judge a quality knife - The Bolster

The Tang is the part of the knife inserted into the handle.

How to judge a quality knife - The Tang

Knife Reviews – Our Favorites

Chicago Cutlery Reviews
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18 piece set is a great mix of style, functionality, quality and price. The soft grip handles are great for people with smaller hands. Buyers on Amazon consistently rate this set 4 stars or better. At $4.50 per knife, the Fusion set is a perfect addition to any kitchen.

Read the Reviews on Amazon
Rada Cutlery Reviews
Rada Cutlery Ultimate 15 piece collection is made for serious cooks. The brushed aluminum handles are stylish and comfortable producing a lighter knife. The blades are high carbon forged stainless steel. The knives are made in the USA. Surprisingly, these knives only cost $6.00 per knife.

Rada Cutlery Reviews on Amazon

Related Links

Best Cutlery – What is the Best Deal?

Cutting Boards – Glass versus Wood


Cheap Gifts for Guys in the Kitchen

Men spend most of their lives avoiding the kitchen. Not surprisingly, their kitchens tend to be poorly stocked when it comes to cooking tools and utensils. Generally, Men shop for kitchen items at the wrong places. They shop at discount stores like Walmart and Meijers. They collect the cheapest stuff they can find to stock their kitchens. If you are looking to buy cheap gifts for guys, think about kitchenware.

5 Keys to Buying Gifts for Guys

  • Men like two colors – Black and Shiny
  • Men like “tough and rugged”
  • Men like things with buttons and knobs
  • Men like fast and simple things
  • Men like gadgets

Cheap Gifts for Guys Under $15

Cheap gifts for Guys | Cool Egg Timer | $12

Cool Kitchen Timer – $12

Cool Kitchen Timer (Price: $12.00)

This kitchen timer looks like a safe dial and sticks to your refrigerator door. The brushed metallic look and unique gadgetry style have “Cool Guy” gift written all over it. Best of all, this tool will keep men from burning their meals.  
Safe Dial Kitchen Timer, Black


Cheap Gifts for Guys | Knife Sharpener | $10.00

Knife Sharpener – $10

Knife Sharpener (Price: $10.00)

Manufactured by the legendary Wusthof company, this handy tool will keep your knives sharp. It is simple to use and stores away easily. Designed to work on more expensive cutlery but will work with cheap knives. Wusthof Knife Sharpener, Red


Rabbit Cork Screw (Price: $13.00)

Cheap gifts for guys | Rabbit Cork Screw | $13

Rabbit Cork Screw – $13

Rabbit Cork Screws are popular amongst wine drinkers. Most sets go for about $30. We found this one on Amazon for a mere $13. It is black with shiny parts and very gadget looking. Buy this as a gift. Don’t worry, if it fails he can always use his All-in-one tool or cordless Makita drill to open the wine. Rabbit Style Corkscrew


Bamboo Cutting Boards (Price: $10.00)

Cheap gift for Guys | Bamboo Cutting Boards | $10

Bamboo Cutting Boards – $10

Some men consider their entire counter top as one giant cutting board. Help them out and buy a nice 2-piece set of bamboo cutting boards. Men will appreciate the natural outdoorsy look of these boards. They may even start chopping their own vegetables and garlic. One can always hope… Bamboo 2-Piece Cutting Board Set



Cheap Gifts for Guys Under $40

Guy Fieri Chef Knife (Price: $35.00)

Cheap Gifts for Guys | Guy Fieri Chef's Knife | $35

Guy Fieri Chef’s Knife – $35

Guy Fieri is legendary in the cooking world as being a “Man’s Man”. Look at his line of Knuckle Sandwich cutlery. Black and red handles with a shiny star, flames etched into blade and the brand name of Knuckle Sandwich. This knife screams Man, Man, Man. It will get your Man off his butt and into the kitchen.
Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich Chef Knife


Cheap gifts for Guys | Smooth Edge Can Opener | $30

Can Opener

Smooth Edge Can Opener (Price: $30.00)

Men live and die by their can opener. What makes this can opener so special is the smooth edge technology. No more sharp edges. Besides being black and shiny, easy to use and highly rated, this can opener is gadgetry at it’s finest. Pardon the pun but it is “cutting edge” technology. You will never stop a man from using canned goods but at least you can make it safe.
Smooth Touch Can Opener, Black and Chrome


Cheap Gifts for Guys | Eat like a Man Cookbook | $25

Eat like a Man – $25

Eat Like a Man Cookbook (Price: $25.00)

Ok, so it’s a cookbook but one look at the juicy steak on the cover and men may take a peek inside. Published by Esquire, the 100 recipes are definitely “Meat on your Bones” delights. When your man opens this gift, he may act disappointed but within 1 month he will try at least one recipe.
Eat Like a Man Cookbook


Cheap Gifts for Guys | Black and Decker Mini Food Processor | $20

Mini Food Chopper – $20

Mini Food Processor (Price: $20.00)

This unit carries the Black and Decker name which scores well on the “Man Coolness” chart. The black top and ease of use may get your man to chop some food. God forbid he would actually chop fresh vegetables but one can always hope. It does a great job shredding cheese so your man will be able to use it for frozen pizza.
Black & Decker Food Chopper


Cheap Gifts for Guys | 1 Cup Coffee Maker | $20

1 Cup Coffee Maker

1 Cup Coffee Maker (Price: $20.00)

This unit is small, easy to use and has a “Man Cool” look to it. Black, shiny and looks like a gadget. While not a Keurig, it does not carry the fancy $99 price tag either. Rated highly by consumers. Perfect for the office, in the camper, the dorm room or for people with small kitchens.
1-Cup Coffee Maker, Black


Cheap gifts for Guys | T-Fal Bagel Toaster | $25

T-fal Bagel Toaster – $25

T-Fal Bagel Toaster (Price: $25.00)

This extra width toaster is great for bagels, english muffins and of course plain old toast. It is black, shiny, and has buttons, knobs, levers and dials. Everything needed for the “Man Cool” gift. Having the T-Fal label, assures this unit has some quality behind it. This unit is perfect for small kitchens.
T-fal Bagel Toaster, Black

Cheap Easy Meals: Shopping at Bulk Stores

Cheap easy meals - Shopping on a budget

Photo by Carl Dunn – All rights reserved

Many of us live on a budget. Coming up with cheap easy meals is often a chore. We grow weary of constantly cooking dinner for our families. Our families rarely realize the struggle we go through at the grocery store and food markets. We begin to make poor dinner choices. I face it, you face it. However, sacrificing “health” for the almighty dollar is not a great choice either. Shopping at bulk stores can help you return a bit of sanity to your food budget.

Bulk Item Stores

In the past 10 years, large outlet stores like Sam’s Club and Costco have appeared. These stores specialize in selling large quantity (“bulk”) food items, paper products and many other items. Used correctly, these stores can save families hundreds of dollars on their household and food budget. The true trick is to convert these large in-bulk items into healthy cheap easy meals for your family. Here are a few tips.

Tip #1 – Frozen Pizza

Frozen pizzas make cheap easy meals

Photo by Carl Dunn

Frozen Pizza is a family favorite. They are cheap and easy to prepare. However, they lack in taste. With a bit of creativity though, you can transform those cardboard tasting slabs into a tasty and healthy meal. Add a half can of petite cut diced tomatoes on top of frozen pizza. Add fresh chopped peppers. Try a can of pineapple tidbits. You will be amazed by the difference in taste. Basic Cost: $3.00 per pizza


Tip #2 – Frozen Meatballs

Frozen meatballs make cheap easy meals

Photo by Carl Dunn

Meatballs are great for creating cheap easy meals. A bag of frozen meatballs allow to add meat to your dinner recipes without destroying your budget. Typically a family will buy a pound or two of meat and use the entire amount in one meal. With meatballs you can limit the amount of meat to just what you need. Meatball stew needs just a few meatballs per serving. Spaghetti needs 3 or 4 meatballs per plate. Basic cost: $2.50 or less per pound.



Tip #3 – Olive Oil Mixtures

Olive Oil is a base ingredient in many cheap easy meals.

Photo by Carl Dunn

Choosing the right oil makes a large difference in the taste of your recipes. Unfortunately pure Olive Oil or Peanut Oil cost more. Sometimes twice as much as cheaper types of oil. The large bulk stores sell less expensive mixtures like Canola/Olive Oil. A trained cook will know the difference but your family will only taste a deliciously prepared meal. Basic cost: $10 (128 fluid ounces)



 Tip #4 – Bulk Spices

Use Bulk Spices for Cheap Easy Meals

Photo by Carl Dunn

Spices can make cheap easy meals taste better. However, in regular stores spices are expensive. Small bottles of spice can cost $3.00 or more dollars. Bulk stores offer many common spices at a fraction of the normal cost. Best of all, most spices can last many months before they spoil or lose their potency. Look for peppercorn, sea salt and dry rubs. Common spices like oregano or basil are also available.

Basic Cost: Varies depending on the spice.


Cheap Easy Meals Doesn’t Mean Fast Food

Far too often we give into the temptation of picking up a bag of burgers or a bucket of chicken. Yes…these qualify as cheap easy meals but they are unhealthy. If you analyze the actual cost of fast food, a “meal” will often cost more than a homemade dinner. Watch a few documentaries like Super Size Me [DVD] or Food, Inc. and you learn about many of the hidden costs behind fast food.

Bulk Store Locators

High Fibre Foods – Canned Beans are Winners


If you are seeking high fibre foods, then consider canned beans. In Nature, beans of all types are high in fibre. Most varieties of beans will supply 25% to 50% of your daily fibre requirements in every serving. Unfortunately, fresh beans take an hour or two to prepare. Using canned beans makes it easy to increase your fibre intake.

Why Canned Goods are Unhealthy…

One word: SODIUM. Canned goods use salt to increase their shelf life. Using canned goods in your meals will increase your sodium intake. High levels of sodium in your diet leads to heart problems and high blood pressure. :-(

The processing of fresh produce into canned goods often strips the vegetable of it’s natural vitamins and nutrients. What is the point after that? The whole purpose of eating more vegetables is the necessary vitamins and nutrients found in the vegetable. :-(

Finally, canned good producers will add artifical flavorings and coloring. These chemicals are designed to make the food “LOOK” more appealing and have very little to do with a healthy diet. We suggest you spend some time reading the nutritional labels of canned goods. :-(

High Fibre Foods: Canned Beans are the Exception to the Rule

High Fibre Foods - Canned Beans

High Fibre Foods – No Salt

Like many other canned goods, canned beans are high in sodium. However, several producers sell No Salt Added varieties of beans. See Kuner’s Beans Also, “washing your canned beans” will reduce the amount of sodium. :-)

Canned beans do lose some of their vitamin content. Fortunately, Fibre levels are not sacrificed. Comparing “canned” to “fresh” reveals only a 2% to 4% decrease in Fibre. :-)

High Fibre Foods: Canned Beans are Quick and Easy

Spend a few minutes reading cookbooks or visiting websites. You will discover using fresh beans takes time. Most articles suggest one hour of cooking time. Unless you are chewing the lid off the can, opening a can of beans takes less than one minute. Washing the beans (suggested above) takes less than one minute. Heating the beans takes about 5 minutes. Healthy quick meals can be created in less than 15 minutes.

High Fibre Foods: Canned Beans are Versatile

Healthy quick meals are easy to make but often lack variety. Canned beans, on the other hand, can be used in many different recipes. Here are a few examples:

  • Salad with Beans – Add a can of beans to your favorite salad recipe. Use a dark colored bean to add a visual contrast in your salad.
  • Beans in Soup – Add beans to your favorite soup recipe. Soups should use similar colored beans. Chicken stock should use light colored beans. Beef stock should use dark colored beans. Again, all beans are high in fibre.
  • Beans and Rice – Beans and rice are a great compliment to almost any entrée.
  • Refried Beans and Tacos – Use refried beans when making tacos.

High Fibre Foods: Related Articles

Chart of High Fibre Foods – Mayo Clinic

Top High Fibre Foods – Today’s Dietitian

Spice Rack Ideas – List of Spices You Need

Spice Rack Ideas | List of Spices You Need

Spice Rack Ideas – The Essential List of Spices for your Kitchen

The best spice rack ideas for a beginner is to keep it simple. Eventually, you will expand your list of spices. More experienced cooks should use this guideline to organize their list of spices. The goal is simple: Create a Great Spice List. Your food will taste better.

Spice Rack Ideas: Where Do I Start?

Lets start with taking inventory. What do you have on your shelf now? Divide your spices into 4 piles: Spices with the word “Salt”, Spices with the word “Powder”, Spices with the word “Pepper” and Everything else. Inspect the containers for expiration dates. If any of your spices are near or past their expiration date, then throw them away. Generally, spices do not spoil but over time they will loose their potency.

😉 In some ManCaves the spice can become “rocks” of hardened mass. Throw these away or you can use them as practice golf balls.

Spice Rack Ideas: The “Salt” Spices

One of the best flavorings in cooking is salt. Many of the best recipes use salt. Unfortunately, Salt is also a major factor of a unhealthy diet. Throw out any jars of Garlic Salt or Onion salt. Choose to use fresh Garlic and Onions. Fresh spices deliver much more flavor to your recipes. Fresh spices eliminate Sodium in your diet. Try brands like Mrs Dash that are salt-free spices. Keep one container of standard table salt and a salt grinder with either rock salt or sea salt. Sodium is a leading cause of high blood pressure. :-(

  • Standard Table Salt
  • Salt Grinder with Sea Salt
  • Mrs Dash Garlic & Herb (instead of Garlic Salt)
  • Mrs Dash Onion & Herb (instead of Onion Salt)

Spice Rack Ideas: The “Powder” Spices

Powdered spices are essential in cooking. They will lend unique flavoring to recipes. Chili powder, Cumin, and Cinnamon are the “Big 3”. Again, rid your spice rack of Garlic and Onion powder. Always choose fresh Garlic and Onion. You may wish to explore a Cajun powder or a Tex-Mex powder. Be sure to read the Sodium levels. Powder spices often contain high levels of sodium.

  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon

Spice Rack Ideas: The “Pepper” Spices

Pepper spices create bold flavors in recipes. Experienced cooks use “pepper” spices often. Crushed red peppers, Lemon pepper, Cayenne pepper and good old black pepper are necessary staples of your spice rack. A pepper grinder with whole pepper seeds adds even more flavor and appeal to your recipes. Specialty Pepper spices are available but are usually more expensive. I will buy them occasionally if I see them on sale.

  • Crushed Red Peppers
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Pepper Grinder with whole Pepper
  • Lemon Pepper

Spice Rack Ideas: “Everything Else” Spices

This pile will contain mostly flakes, seeds, and leaves. Basil, Bay Leaves and Parsley flakes will compliment many dishes. These types of spices are mainly used as last-minute toppings to add color and appeal to you recipes. Use fresh Basil or Parsley for cooking purposes. Oregano and Italian Seasoning will boost any Italian recipe. This spice category also contains your “Dry Rubs” used mainly for grilling. Our favorite is Grill Mates from McCormick.

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Parsley Flakes
  • Oregano
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Mrs Dash Extra Spicy
  • Dry Rubs – Fish, Beef and Chicken

Spice Rack Ideas: Related Spice Rack Items

Many seasonings are liquid. They are often not treated as “spices”. However, you should make them part of your list of spices. Include some type of hot sauce like Tabasco Sauce or Frank’s RedHot Sauce. Balsamic, red wine and cider vinegar are common recipe ingredients.

  • Hot Sauce (Tabasco or Franks RedHot)
  • Vinegar (Balsamic, Red Wine and Cider)

Spice Rack Ideas: Our Full List of Spices

  • Standard Table Salt
  • Salt Grinder with Sea Salt
  • Mrs Dash Garlic & Herb (instead of Garlic Salt)
  • Mrs Dash Onion & Herb (instead of Onion Salt)
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed Red Peppers
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Pepper Grinder with whole Pepper
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Parsley Flakes
  • Oregano
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Mrs Dash Extra Spicy
  • Dry Rubs – Fish, Beef and Chicken
  • Hot Sauce (Tabasco or Franks RedHot)
  • Vinegar (Balsamic, Red Wine and Cider)

Spice Rack Ideas: Related Articles

The Well Stocked Kitchen

The 10 Essential Spices for Stocking Your Pantry

Basic Spice Checklist

Danger – Man in the Kitchen | Cooking for Guys Humor

Danger - Man in the Kitchen | Cooking for Guys Humor

Learn Where to Hide when there is a Man in the Kitchen.

You know you are a Man in the Kitchen

…when anything with an edge on it is called a knife

…when 1 frying pan and 1 pot is called a complete cooking set

Let’s face it guys, our toolbox in the garage is better stocked than your kitchen. Get the wallet out and buy some nice kitchen tools. Good knives, good pans, a few plates and maybe even a set of wooden spoons. Don’t forget a decent cutting board. If it makes you feel better, make your own cutting board.

You know you are a Man in the Kitchen

…when your stovetop has two temperatures: High and Off

…when the only time the oven is used is when the furnace goes out

Cooking is part science and part artistic. Even a can of soup or a box of macaroni & cheese can taste 10 times better if cooked correctly. Burning or boiling everything is not the answer. Try a lower temperature and for God’s sake, cook something in the oven. (Frozen Pizza doesn’t count)

You know you are a Man in the Kitchen

…when everything that is GOOD comes from a can, box or jar

…when cheese makes everything taste better and more cheese makes it taste more better

Listen up guys. I am only going to say this once. The grocery store has a fresh vegetable section, a deli, and dairy section. And you know what? All the best looking women hang out in those areas. So why are you shopping in the canned goods? I know…because all that is good come a can, box or jar. It is the way we are trained.

You know you are a Man in the Kitchen

…when your only cookbook is on the refrigerator and is titled 1-800-EAT-PIZZA

…when a can of chili, two beers and a bag of chips is a delicious feast

I need you to take a leap of faith. There is more to life than beer, football, cars and hot looking women. Don’t get me wrong. I tailgate, I am a sports nut, I drool over the ’67 Vette and I want my very own Victoria Secret model but we need to appreciate spinach, snap peas, and fresh tomatoes with an equal amount of enthusiasm.

You know you are a Man in the Kitchen

…when your only spices are garlic salt, onion salt and powdered cheese

…when the ashes from a cigarette count as a spice

The kitchen can be your path to a healthy lifestyle. Being a good cook is nothing to be ashamed of and your wife or girlfriend will appreciate the occasional “helping hand” in the kitchen. Chop a few cloves of garlic, slice a tomato, or maybe even prepare a whole meal for someone special.

Ok, I have had a little fun at your expense but I was there. I was the “Man in the Kitchen” for 40 years. I still burn the toast, I still eat canned foods, and I still make mistakes in the kitchen but I have taken control over my diet. I cook well, I eat well and most importantly I live well.

Related “Man in the Kitchen” Articles

Art of Manliness – Men in the Kitchen

The Role of a Man in the Kitchen

Cooking for Men – Learning to Cook

Cooking for Men | Learning to Cook

Cooking for Men – Learning to Cook

Cooking for Men is like a foreign language. As boys, we never learned how to cook. We were not concerned about easy healthy meals. We usually learn to cook single items but usually nothing fancier than some breaded chicken. For the most part, mothers, girlfriends and wives do the whole healthy cooking thing. And for the guys who remained single or got divorced or found themselves living alone, cooking was a box, a can and some meat. Finally, after many years, we realize that our eating habits play a vital role in our overall health. Now we stand in our kitchens without a clue.

Learn to Cook: Getting Started…

Believe it or not, you have already taken the first step by visiting this website. We are dedicated to teaching guys how to cook. Your next step is to “Clean House”. Throw away your pots and pans. Remove the food from your shelves. Unload the refrigerator. You need to build a good kitchen toolbox. You need to stock your cabinets with healthier food. You need to fill your refrigerator with freshness. Every food you love and anything you eat regularly has a healthy alternative. We are not asking you to sacrifice any food. We are asking you to get rid of the junk. We are asking you to learn to create easy meals with healthy ingredients.

Cooking for Men: Lesson One – “Fast Food Challenge”

Typically, single men regularly eat at Fast Food establishments. If you compile a list of healthy food, not a single item from a single fast food restaurant would ever appear on that list. But the “fast food” temptation and the convenience of the drive-thru window seems to override our desire to eat healthy. So your first cooking lesson is the “Fast Food Challenge”. Here is how it works:

  1. Buy Your Favorite Fast Food Item. Pizza, Hamburgers, Tacos, whatever…
  2. Bring the food home. Set Your Food on the Table. Study it. Identify the Ingredients.
  3. Now Eat your food! Remember how it tastes.
  4. Buy the same ingredients from the grocery store.
  5. Cook the ingredients and attempt to recreate the “Fast Food” in your kitchen.
    Note: Do not be discouraged by early failures.
  6. Eat your recreated fast food and ask yourself “Does it taste better?”
  7. Repeat these steps until your answer is a resounding YES!

Cooking for Men: Lesson Two – “All Fresh Meal”

Cooking for Men | Learning to Cook

Your next challenge is to create a meal with all fresh items. Nothing prepackaged, nothing from a can or a box. Do not use the microwave. Simply cook something “all fresh”. Salads are a good choice but remember no prepackaged salad dressings or prepackaged cheese. Chicken and rice is also simple. The goal is not to have you eat boring food but rather to pay attention to the ingredients you are adding to your recipes. Here are the rules:

  1. Go to the grocery store. Buy only fresh ingredients.
    No Canned Goods, No Frozen Items, No Prepackaged Items
  2. Create a simple one-plate meal. Do not use the microwave!
  3. Eat the simple meal. Remember how your simple recipe tastes.
  4. Resist the temptation to supplement your meal with junk food.

The point of this challenge is to develop an appreciation of fresh ingredients. Go to bed hungry one night. That is all we ask!

Cooking for Men: Lesson Three – “The Complete Meal”

The complete meal takes planning. You need a main dish, a vegetable, a salad, some bread or rolls and drinks. Be involved in every decision about the meal. If you want wine, research which wines go well with your main dish. Choose a vegetable that compliments your main dish.

  1. Plan your complete meal. Build a shopping list. Go shopping.
    Your meal should include:
    – A main dish with some type of meat
    – A vegetable side dish (choose a fresh vegetable – not frozen)
    – A small dinner salad
    – Some type of starch (potatoes, rice, etc.)
    – Some fruit (think dessert!)
    – Something to drink (wine, tea, lemonade or water)
    Note: Feel free to “cheat” a little. Canned tomatoes or beans. Prepackaged salads and dressing.
  2. Choose one or two spices to use only. (Do not over-spice)
  3. Prepare your “complete meal”. Avoid using the microwave. Attempt to cook everything.
  4. Assemble your “complete meal” on plates and in bowls.
  5. Eat the food at your table. (not in front of the TV or in your favorite lounge chair)
  6. Clean up. Put away leftovers. Wash the dishes.

The point of this challenge is appreciate how food blends together. Far too often we focus on a single taste. I want extra peperoni, I want a chili burger, I want Dorito tacos. Learn to see a complete meal.

Cooking for Men: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Learning to cook takes time. You will still be eating out, going to barbecues, tailgating, and pretty much doing everything you did before. Start by eating healthy once a week. By the end of the year, you will enjoy spending time in your kitchen creating an easy healthy meal. I encourage you to visit Chef ManCave anytime and explore the many articles about cooking for men, eating healthy, creating easy healthy meals and choosing healthy foods.

Cooking for Men: Cook Well, Eat Well, Live Well

Cooking for men and learning to cook is about having fun and eating healthy. I created a snack called “Muddy Little Footballs” that I make for tailgate parties. The crew gobbles them up. The snacks go great with beer. Little do they know that they are made with yogurt, spinach and no-fat cheese. Healthy is not boring. Healthy is not tasteless. Healthy is healthy.

Cooking for Men - Muddy Little Footballs

Cooking for Men – My “Muddy Little Footballs” – Great Snacks at Tailgate Parties









Cooking for Men: Related Articles

List of Essential Kitchen Utensils – The Kitchen Toolkit

List of Essential Kitchen Utensils

Building a Kitchen Toolkit begins with the list of essential kitchen utensils. Read more and create a great kitchen.

A Fresh Start

Start with throwing away everything you own with a few exceptions. Throw it away, give it away, put it on Craig’s List. Our experience shows that most people buy the cheapest utensils they can find and use them forever. Time for a Kitchen Utensil makeover. Makeover Budget: $600.00

Visit the ManCave Kitchen Shop for Great Deals at Amazon

Chef ManCave List of Essential Kitchen Utensils

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Knives

• Cooking Knives are the first step in becoming a good cook. A set of professional knives can cost over $1000 dollars. Don’t bother with the high end knives. They are too expensive. Instead focus on 3 or 4 average quality knives that cost about $20 a piece. Remember to buy a knife sharpener too.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Cutting Boards

• Cutting Boards are often overlooked but they end up being a key factor. The cutting board is used in preparing nearly every recipe. You should plan to buy several boards but look for good deals. ($10-$15) We have found the bamboo boards to be the most reliable. Also consider buying a variety of sizes.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - fry pans• Fry Pans are your number one cooking pans. Look for good name brands like Calphalon or T-Fal but plan to invest a little more in these pans. Fortunately the good sets last a long time. Never buy “el cheapo” brands. Also, invest in one large pre-oiled cast iron fry pan. We call them the Ford F-150 of fry pans.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - pots• Cooking Pots are a staple of a good kitchen. However, the more you learn about cooking the less you need pots. Their main use is for boiling pasta & noodles or cooking rice. Find a good starter set for around $100 and your needs will be covered. Make sure you buy a set with lids.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Wood Spoons• Wooden Spoons will be used throughout the cooking process. We suggest wooden spoons because they do not scratch non-stick pans. Again, the bamboo sets are most reliable. You can find a good set in most department stores for about $25.00. Women notice kitchens with wooden spoons. 😮

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Mixing Bowls• Mixing Bowls are your secret weapon to great tasting food. We suggest 3 stainless steel bowls and 2 glass bowls. A set of 3 or 4 one-cup glass bowls are great for mixing small amounts of items. Plan to spend around $75.00 for the whole collection. Cooking show hosts use mixing bowls constantly.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Stock Pots• Stock Pots are used for making soups, stews and sauces. These recipes include instructions like “Simmer for 2 hours”. That is exactly what a stock pot is designed for. We suggest a good stainless steel pot with a lid. About $35.00. For a few extra dollars, consider a “Steamer/Stock Pot” combination.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Baking Pans• Baking Dishes are for the oven. Many recipes call for some degree of baking. Again, watch a few cooking shows. We suggest 2 glass and 2 non-stick metal dishes. Items such as baking sheets, bread pans and cupcake pans are handy but not necessary in the beginning. Plan to spend about $60.00.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Strainers• Strainers are needed for noodles & pasta. Here you can go cheap. We bought our strainers at the dollar store. While we are on the topic, the dollar store is good place to shop for the small utensils needed in the kitchen like a bottle opener, cheese grater, kitchen towels and pot holders.

List of Essential kitchen utensils - Storage Containers• Storage Containers are needed for the leftovers. Also, we use them for storing soups and sauces. Establish a good collection of different sizes and shapes. Try to find containers with air-tight lids. They will keep food fresher.

Visit the ManCave Kitchen Shop for Great Deals at Amazon

Parting Thoughts

We are always tempted to add to this list and many people disagree with our list. But we tried to minimize the list to just the essentials. At first, this list of kitchen utensils looks daunting but with some planning and dedication you can build a good kitchen toolbox in less than a week. (Kitchen Toolbox Budget: $600.00)

Tip for Men: Invite a lady friend to help you shop for these items. Women are great shoppers. They know the best stores. They know how to find fabulous deals. Have them read our list. Most likely they will disagree with many items and want to add other items. Listen closely to their suggestions. Explain your cooking goals and the $600 dollar budget.

Related Articles

The Kitchn’s Guide to Essential Prep Tools & Utensils

The Beginner’s List of Kitchen Utensils

Cooking Utensils List That Every Kitchen Needs