Cooking Basics

Best old-school kitchen hacks we learned from mom

Standing on your tiptoes while watching your mom cook is a fond memory, but it isn't until you're a little older that you really learn and appreciate their tried-and-true kitchen wisdom. Through the years, we have learned a lot from our mothers about whipping up a fast dinner—even when there are six people to feed—cleaning up without losing your mind, and how to carry on family traditions.

Below, Bon Appétit staffers reveal the 10 best tips we've learned from their moms.

"Mise when baking! My mom never bakes anything without measuring out every little thing in bowls first. They never tell you to do this in the recipe, of course, but I'm sure the practice has saved me countless messed-up cakes as I mix and pour and text and watch TV and, well, you get the idea." —Emma Wartzman, assistant to the editor-in-chief

"Always clean as you go. Yes, it’s obvious. But there’s nothing better than sitting down to dinner knowing there isn’t a mountain of pots and pans waiting for you in the kitchen." —Rachel Karten, social media manager

More From Bon Appetit

"My mom taught me the art of the kitchen sink salad: whatever veg you have + can of beans + crumbly cheese + jarred stuff like roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, etc. + a good parsley vinaigrette. And sometimes dinner is a bowl of popcorn and a glass of white wine, and that’s totally okay." —Amanda Shapiro, editor, Healthyish

"It's okay to sub in rotisserie chicken to save on time. My mom also doubled the recipe of whatever she’s making to put it in the freezer or give it to friends and family." —Kate Fenoglio, production assistant

More: 20 Basic Cooking Techniques Every Home Cook Should Master

"If there is a dish that says 'home' to you, don’t put it off thinking about learning how to make it 'someday.' Go directly to the source and prepare it with your mother. Take notes. Forever after you will be able to smell, feel, and taste loving memories of childhood.” —Laura Murray, assistant photo editor

"My mother always struggled to find recipes that could satisfy the whole family, so she had a system of putting 4 stars by recipes we'd all eat. One winner was a chicken with heavy cream and herbs from Pierre Franey's 60-Minute Gourmet. I learned from her that it's worth hunting for a quality crowd-pleaser." —Brooke Shuman, video editor

"To prepare a perfect, crispy piece of meat is to start with a hot pan and only flip it once. This particularly applies to scrapple, the specialty from Denver, where I grew up." —Caitlin Stone, assistant video editor

"My mom bakes eight varieties of cookies for the holidays, but we always had the joy of eating them all year. To keep them fresh, she freezes them on paper plates with wax paper between each layers—so they don't stick together or break—and puts it all in a Ziploc bag. These cookies last throughout the year, and it's a nice surprise to find homemade cookies ready to thaw on a random July day." —Alyse Whitney, associate web editor

"Be fearless, but follow directions the first time you make something!" —Dana Cataldo, video editor

"Since most of our family time was spent in the kitchen, she taught me to remind yourself It’s not so much what’s on the table, it’s about the memories created around the table that matter most." —Sam Siegfried, editorial business assistant