If you're just starting off in the kitchen and learning the ropes, everything can be daunting. It's like the first day of a brand new school or the first day at a new job---everything is new and you don't really know where you're supposed to go, and what to do, and in doing so, you can make a few mistakes along the way. NOT TO WORRY! It's all part of the journey, but if you're wondering why you may be having a few issues, here are some tips of things to avoid.
1. You're doing no prep work
So you're on step 4 of the recipe and it calls for a tablespoon of curry powder, so you rummage through your pantry, and the cabinets, and back through the pantry, only to discover you have no curry powder...and you're making a curry. Make sure before you start you actually have all the ingredients you need. It will also serve you well to read through the recipe in it's entirety to find out all the steps you need to do and all the equipment you need first, because you may be preparing for a meal for you and your four friends for 6pm, only to find out, for example, that your chicken needs to marinade overnight or for at least 2 hours before you cook it.
2. You're not paying attention
It's hard for me to believe that, for example, a person could just stand there right in front of the stove and literally watch their scrambled eggs burn without doing something to intervene before the fire and flames stage. A lot of the reason why a beginner cook may claim, everything they cook burns, is because they are literally not paying attention and not watching their food while it cooks. If you have an open flame, a hot burner, or things on the stove in particular, you need to be monitoring your food so you can catch things like, the eggs starting to turn brown. With the oven, you can set a timer, but you need to be within range to actually hear it go off. It doesn't help if you're outside playing with the dog and the oven timer has been beeping for 20 minutes. This is quite serious one, because you can burn down your entire house/apartment if you're not careful.
3. You're paying too much attention
Yes, I just said, you weren't paying attention, but on the flip side, there are those that pay way too much attention. Unless a recipe specifically calls for it, constantly opening the oven door, constantly flipping the food, constantly stirring can have a negative effect on the food. Opening an oven door repeatedly when baked goods are in there can cause them not to rise properly and a constant stir may make a dish really runny. This is where watching someone cook it, as in a cooking show or youtube video, can help you to see how that chef tends to their food and how often they check on things.
4. You're using dull knives
Probably over 75% of what you do in the kitchen, when it comes to savory dishes, involves using a knife whether that be cutting up meats, fruits, or vegetables. It may sound counterintuitive for you to have a really sharp knife, but having a sharp knife actually reduces the risk of injury in the kitchen because you aren't having to force a knife violently through your food products. If a knife cuts "like butter" you put in far less effort than with one that is not sharp. A good chef's knife can be super expensive, but will serve you well in the kitchen because of it's versatility. Even if you don't have that type of cash, make sure that you routinely sharpen the knives you do have even if they are the cheap kind.
5. You're thinking you're the expert
Learning to cook is a process, like learning to do much that we learn in life. Coming in day one and just assuming you can for example, add 2x as much nutmeg than what the recipe calls for, when you've never used nutmeg in your life or made the recipe you've made before in your life, is going to probably land you with a dish that doesn't taste good at all. Get to know the ingredients you will be routinely using in your kitchen through the experience of cooking and following recipes to start. Nutmeg, for example, is a very intensely flavored spice. A little goes a long way, and a lot goes the wrong way very quickly. Get a few recipes under your belt, and experience a bit more cooking before you go about adding in four more touches of this or that that or leaving out something in the recipe.
6. You're not tasting your food
How do we know when things taste good? Nope, not a trick question---it's when we actually taste them an allow our senses to inform us on how good...or bad...a particular food tastes. You can't always go by smell or the look of something. You can avoid a lot of end product heartache, if say you add a pinch of salt, taste and realize, it's not enough, and add a bit more, taste, and then get it to where it needs to be rather then serving up some food that is totally bland because you assumed you'd added enough salt.
7. You're cooking in a dumpster
A lot of people say, I hate dishes, I hate cleaning up after cooking, but other than the dishes you eat the final meal with, at the end of your cooking session, you should not have every utensil, bowl, cutting board, and pan you cooked with still sitting there like you're in the middle of a landfill. This is doubly important when you're dealing with raw meats. You don't want to just have a bloody cutting board lying around risking potential cross contamination. If you're done with the spoon you're using, rinse it off immediately. If you've got your main course into the oven, use the time while it bakes to clean off your stove, and wipe down the counter tops.
8. You're disregarding kitchen safety
Do you have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit nearby your cooking station? Have you learned basic knife cutting skills? Have you made sure there are no dish or paper towels lying around the stove that can easily catch fire? Have you secured your wobbly cutting board, so it doesn't slip out from under you? Are you washing your hands before cooking and after dealing with raw food? Have you made sure kids and pets don't have access to your cooking area where they can be easily injured? Do you have proper heat safe oven gloves? These are serious issues which can cause pain, illness, damage, and death if you ignore them.