For many, cooking is an enjoyable activity; something people look forward to in their days. It can be a much-needed mental break after a long day of work, a craft, a hobby, a way to connect to friends and family and so much more. We’ve all heard the saying “food brings people together.”
Well, not everyone. Cooking can be a stressful two-hour addition for the busy and non-culinary-minded folks. From figuring out what to make to prepping ingredients to working away at a pile of dishes, cooking comprises of a lot of small tasks that can quickly add up to a full night ordeal.
Especially for people short on time, all that accumulated labor that goes into cooking sucks out all the enjoyment from the actual food they’re making. Cooking and eating become a chore, something to be dreaded instead of getting excited about.
We don’t want you to hate cooking, so we’ve compiled a few helpful tips and tricks that might shave off some of that cooking time and streamline your kitchen processes a bit.
1. Get your tools in order… and preheat the oven!
No matter how many times a recipe tells you to preheat the oven, we all forget sometimes. That’s why we’re reminding you again. If you preheat the oven before you start any prepping, your ingredients will be ready to pop in right when the preheating is finished.
Make sure you know what tools (pots, pans, utensils, baking sheets) you’ll need for the recipe. If you have enough counter space, have them out and ready to go to avoid having to dig through your cabinets and drawers with dirty fingers later on. Organizing your kitchen workspace will make the whole process much less stressful.
2. Boil your water in a kettle
This tip flies over a lot of people’s heads, but it’s a very simple way to reduce your boiling time to less than 5 minutes. It’s all about capitalizing on the strengths of the tools you have. Why waste time and more energy boiling water in a large pot?
3. Organize your prep work and use the right tools
Instead of cutting up whatever is in front of you, take time to organize which ingredients you should prep first. For example, recipes with aromatics like onions and garlic will usually have those cook first so prioritize cutting those ingredients over your proteins, which will most likely go in later. This will make your cooking process a lot more straightforward and avoid cluttered cutting boards.
Going back to capitalizing on the strengths of the tools you have from the kettle tip, don’t be afraid to use your full arsenal of kitchen equipment to make your prep work faster or easier to clean. If using a pair of kitchen scissors to snip up some bacon or green onion is faster than using a knife for you, go for it. Grating ginger is another underloved technique that makes using this ingredient so much easier.
4. Work effectively in a pair or multitask
For those of you cooking for two, effectively working as a team will cut down your kitchen time significantly. The trick is to always be setting up the station for the other partner to move further down the recipe process. While one person is grabbing ingredients from the fridge and tools from the drawers, the other can get started on prepping. The latter can later get started on cooking while the other partner finishes up the prep work. And then once everything’s in the oven or stovetop, one partner can start on the dishes. You’ll be surprised how getting started on dishes early goes a long way in reducing your post-meal dishwashing time.
If you’re cooking alone, always be cognizant of what you can do while things can be left unmonitored. For example, if you’re waiting for your pasta to boil and chicken to roast, get started on your dishes. Steaming veggies is another process that you can take your eyes off for a moment to work on other parts of the dish.
5. Dishwasher from cleanest to dirtiest
Let your dirtiest, crustiest, most caked-on dishes soak in hot, soapy water while you work away at your cleaner dishes. Going from clean to dirty will free up more space in your sink and counter and speed up the dishwashing process noticeably. By the time you get to that dreaded crusty baking pan, it will be a lot easier to scrub off than if you had tried to wash it from the get-go.
Unverified, but fun tip: Play some upbeat tunes to increase your scrubbing tempo. Be sure to use pasture raised meat from NIKU Farms 🙂
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