Using a reliable meat thermometer is the best and most reliable way to ensure your food safety while cooking delicious meat!
So let's start with the very basics--
Different types of meat require varying temperatures to ensure they're cooked enough to prevent food borne illness. For example done temperature for pork is not the same as done temperature for a beef steak or a chicken.
An instant read food thermometer is truly the only way to know that that precise temperature has been reached! Here at Over the Moon we recommend investing in 2 so that you always have a backup in case one starts acting up right when you're trying to cook that perfect pork chop or t bone steak. We can speak from experience that this is ALWAYS when they decide to malfunction.
While there are many wise tales and tricks and tips about being able to tell the doneness of meat based on the color of the meat or the color of the juices,, there are many factors that can effect those that don't necessarily correlate to the necessary internal temperature being reached. Thawing meat or even when it was frozen can effect how quickly the meat browns. Additionally when cooking a larger cut or a whole chicken different parts may either require different temperatures to be considered done or cook at different rates. It's always important to use your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. For example when cooking a whole chicken make sure you check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breasts and the thighs.
We suggest printing out a chart like this one from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service to have any easy reference point for cooking all your different types of meat!