Survival Tips From the Kitchen Trenches: 10 Real Life Tricks For More Efficient Cooking
By: Esther Pransky, Lubicom Marketing Staff
The phone is ringing.
The baby’s crying.
And you’re late for your next carpool.
Did you ever notice that dinner happens EVERY NIGHT? And at the craziest hour of the day, too.
Day to day, week to week, cooking can seem like a race against the clock. (“Shabbat starts when, this week?”)
We surveyed some real women (no professional chefs or food show hosts, here) to find out how they get food on the table quickly and efficiently:
1. Plan your week’s meals in advance
If you make a master list and shop in advance, you know you’ll have all your ingredients on hand. Plus, you don’t need to make decisions during the “witching hour.”
Bonus points if you prep all your produce when you bring it home from the store!
2. Put down your phone!
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking, texting, or swiping. Distracted cooking is not only inefficient, but it leads to kitchen disasters.
3. No running in the kitchen
Not just your kids, but you, too! You’ll be much more efficient if you’re not wasting time and energy moving around your kitchen.
Make sure you have ALL the ingredients and tools set out BEFORE you start. Some people even set all the non-perishables out on the counter the night before, to speed up their dinner prep.
Try using a big pan to gather ingredients from your pantry or fridge all at once. And always keep a garbage can nearby.
4. Use bottled sauces
Don’t reinvent the wheel- use pre-made sauces and marinades to save time in the kitchen.
And there’s a wide variety of kosher spice blends too, like blackened salmon rub, schawarma blend, or barbeque mix. When the minutes count, saving seconds measuring individual spices can be a lifesaver.
5. Clean as you go
A clean workspace keeps you moving quickly and efficiently:
-Put ingredients away.
-Move dishes to the sink.
-Clear the counter.
And if you absolutely refuse to stop until you’ve used every last inch of counter space, at least put dirty utensils to pre-rinse in the sink, so you don’t have to scrub crusted gunk.
6. Multiply your recipes and freeze
Make your freezer your best friend. Enough said.
7. Minimize clean-up
The less you have to clean, the quicker you leave the kitchen when you’re all done:
- “One pan” your dinners.
- Measure dry ingredients first, so you don’t have to wash the measuring cup as often.
- Use disposable gloves and mix with your hands. (This one is an awesome sensory experience and stressbuster, too.)
8. Cook like with like
If you plan to bake challah and muffins in the same cooking session, you can reuse ingredients, utensils, and appliances that are out anyway. The same goes for vegetable prep or any recipes that need a food processor or mixer.
That’s less running. . . less washing. . . less time. . .more efficient.
9. Oven not stovetop
Stovetop recipes ALWAYS take more of your time. You have to babysit your food while you wait for it to boil, adjust the flame, or stir. And then you often have an extra pot to clean.
When time is short, choose oven recipes or convert your stovetop favorites. Rice, for example, can be oven-made. And oven-frying on a sheet pan is quicker and way healthier than regular frying.
10. Cut the time you spend cutting veggies
Check out all pre-peeled and cut veggies in your produce aisle: carrots, celery, onions, peppers, zucchini, and more. You can even keep an emergency stash of frozen chopped veggies. Although they don't taste quite as good as fresh, the prep time can't be beat!
Try using Dorot Gardens Frozen herb cubes, and avoid the major time drain of the peeling, mincing, chopping and dicing of onions, ginger, garlic and herbs.
And here’s one more bonus tip: Pick up the pace (and your mood) with some fast-moving background music.
Happy cooks are more efficient cooks, too.