Cooking is a necessary evil for many families. Now, I like to cook, and I love to bake, but trying to fit it into our regular schedule is incredibly tough, it becomes a necessary evil. This is why I’ve written posts about easy on the go meals, time management tips, and our experience with the home delivery service, Plated.
Even if you don’t meal prep, there are some effective ways to become more productive and efficient in the kitchen and I want to share some of the tips I have come across over the years.
Start With a Clean Area
As basic as this sounds, there are still times I jump into the kitchen and ignore the cluttered counters and dishes in the sink. Within ten minutes, I regret my decision and am usually irritated and frustrated by minute fifteen.
Take a few minutes and clean off your counters, move the pile of mail, and take care of the dirty dishes. If you can start with an empty sink and decluttered counters, you don’t constantly have to stop and move things around, saving you valuable time.
Pull Everything Out Before First
You can save time by gathering your ingredients and tools before you begin to cook. You will spend less time walking back and forth, opening and closing cupboards and the fridge to search for items. Pull out all the measuring devices, cutting boards, and ingredients. Then start cooking.
Clean As You Go
Clean up an spills or messes as you go, and put away ingredients once you are finished with them. Many times, during cooking, you’ll have a few minutes of down time. Wash the dirty dishes or load them in the dishwasher. Start wiping down counters. Complete other parts of dinner during these down times (heating up a side dish or making a salad).
Own A Good Knife
Most people budget for other areas of life, and thinking about good knives isn’t at the top of anyone’s list. But, hear me out. My life in the kitchen changed the first time I bought a Cutco knife. There’s like a veil lifted from your eyes when you use a quality, sharp knife. I love our Cutco knives because I can send them in whenever I want, to be sharpened for free. They even replaced one of our knives last year because it wasn’t up to their standards (it looked fine to my uneducated eye) for free.
A good knife makes prep work much easier. You don’t have to buy them all at once. I still don’t have nice steak knives. But, over the past 6 years, I have purchased six nice knives, about one per year.
In this blog post, I talk all about food shortcuts that can save time during meal prep and cooking. But, buy salad packs, pre made pizza dough, pre chopped vegetables if you need to save time in the kitchen. They can range from pennies more to a few bucks more for the convenience, but if your budget allows for it, then why not shave a few extra minutes off your prepping and cook time.
Use Smaller Cuts
Smaller pieces cook faster. This is especially helpful when I cook vegetables. The smaller the cut, the faster they’ll be done. Roasting broccoli or cauliflower can be significantly quicker by making sure I’ve cut the precut pieces even smaller.
Start the Oven and Boil Water First
If you have a recipe that requires boiling water, get that going before you even start digging out ingredients. The same goes with getting your oven up to temperature. These are time sucks, and to keep things moving in the kitchen, get these items handled before you even begin other tasks.
Use a Garbage Bowl
I learned this from Rachel Ray, but I always use a garbage bowl now. It saves me from going back and forth, allowing me to remain in one place while I prep my ingredients.
Bring Meat to Room Temperature
After I get the oven on, if I am cooking meat, I get it out of the fridge first and let it start getting to room temperature. Your meat will cook more evenly if you let it sit out for a bit.
Read Your Recipe
Especially if you are just learning to cook, make sure you read through the recipe at least once or twice. Even if you’re a seasoned cook, it’s still a good idea to read through a recipe to make sure you understand all the steps.
Line Your Pans
If you don’t have silicone baking sheets, line your baking pans with foil before roasting or cooking. This will expedite clean up, requiring you to just pull off the foil and give your pan a quick wash. There’s no scrubbing needed!
I don’t know many people who want to spend their entire evening, day in and day out, in the kitchen. All of these suggestions can shave a few moments off your cooking time, but added up, you can find yourself in and out of the kitchen without much of a problem.
What are you time saving tips in the kitchen?
If you’re looking to try meal prep, check out my ebook, Meal Prep Made Easy – it covers everything from food safety, batch cooking, freezer cooking, time management, organizing your kitchen and more!