Working in the kitchen can be even more rewarding if you know how to manage your time well. Here are five powerful tips to speed things up and cut your preparation and cooking times by half or more.
Prepare ingredients ahead of time
This can be done either within the day or the night before. Peeling, slicing, weighing, portioning – all of these activities can drastically extend your prep and cooking time combined. There are some days when you just don’t have the energy to spend more than an hour in the kitchen.
Some days, you have spare time that you can just leisurely prepare general ingredients for different dishes. This is what we are after. When you have free time, you can make ingredients ahead of time and just place them in Tupperware or microwaveable containers, for use the next day or so.
Some home cooks even store raw ingredients like sliced onions, garlic, and vegetables for weeks in the refrigerator. This can cut down your prep and cooking time by 15 or more each time. Combined throughout the week, pre-prepared ingredients can save you hours. Quick meals become possible because you are just going to pull out the parts whenever you need to.
We also recommend buying smaller, food-safe containers so you can stack your supplies quickly and just grab what you need when you need to cook. Food grade plastic and glass are highly recommended. Metal containers aren’t that great because the natural acids in fruits and vegetables can efficiently react with any kind of metal, and this might cause problems with your fresh produce.
Get new knives and kitchen tools
This may not sound like a time-saving hack, but it surely is. Let us explain: when your blades are sharp, and all your kitchen tools are working at an optimal level, you work more efficiently and tasks require less time. If you have ever worked with a dull knife before, you would know what we mean. Dull knives, peelers, and other kitchen tools are a pain to work with.
It takes two to three times longer to do things that should be easy. This is why professional chefs take care of their knives like their own children. A sharp and useful knife means you are going to win half the battle quickly.
Cook with dull knives and the experience is going to be far less rewarding. The good news here is that you can either buy new knives (a sound investment!) or purchase a heavy-duty knife sharpener on Amazon or wherever you happen to love doing online shopping. Don’t be afraid of retiring old kitchen tools and implements because you need the whole shebang to prepare and cook food, not just your pots and pans.
Also, it would be a good idea to shop for new organizers (including hooks if need be) if you are planning to keep some of your old tools in the kitchen. Having extra storage and organizers is never a bad thing, especially if you are hunkering down to improve how your kitchen works and how you work in it.
Create a menu for each week
If you haven’t been doing so yet, this will make your kitchen time more efficient because you know what to buy when you perform a supply run, and you will also know what to prepare ahead of time. Earlier in this blog, we recommended that people try preparing ingredients ahead of time – at least one day ahead, if at all possible.
With a full menu plan tacked to your refrigerator, complete with an ingredients list as well as the quantities for each of the ingredients, you will be working the kitchen like a well-oiled machine.
To reduce the difficulty in making your weekly menu, you can visit websites like Epicurious and AllRecipes and just take a pick from the readily available recipes there. The review function of similar sites will also ensure that you will be able to grab the best methods for yourself or your family.
Clean your fruits and vegetables before storing them
This may not seem like a big deal when you are trying to save time, but every bit helps, especially when you are pressed for time! We recommend soaking vegetables and fruits in a mild solution to ensure that they are immaculate before being placed in the crisper compartment of your refrigerator. All you need to cleanse fruits and vegetables are cold water, one cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of baking soda, and the fresh juice of half a lemon.
Combine all of the ingredients first (expect a lot of fizzing) and submerge your vegetables for about five minutes. Feel free to get a small brush to scrub vegetables that can be cleaned.
As for vegetables like lettuce, just let the solution clear any dirt (and bacteria) that may be hanging around. Drain your herbs and allow drying a bit before placing them back in the crisper compartment. All your vegetables are now ready for prepping, and you can slice and dice away at leisure, without having to wash before peeling and slicing.
Keep your most frequently used kitchen tools nearby
We all have our go-to kitchen tools and knives, and it makes complete sense if you can keep them closer to the kitchen counter. Of course, you will still need to keep them organized.
There is a ton of ways to organize small kitchenware, knives, and tools. You can hang them, put them in their small drawer or organizer, etc. The point here is we are going to reduce all the time needed to look for the tools you need by putting them all in one place.
Every little improvement contributes to reducing the time you need to prepare and cook food, and this is one of the most urgent ones. Digging through different drawers can drastically affect your performance in the kitchen, no doubt about it.