If you missed the first 8 tips from last week, be sure to check them out. Today’s tips are really more about the process of your cooking. Many help you think through how to plan a bit so that making your meal is as efficient, and stress-free as possible.
As a reminder, I found most of these tips from the Cheap Healthy Good blog post: 15 Time Saving Food Prep Tips. They are altered to what I think is most important.. Enjoy!
Time Saving Tips for Cooking Fresh at Home
9. Set out all needed ingredients and equipment the morning of or night before. This simple action takes about two minutes, but really cuts down on stress levels when you get home from work. Knowing what you are making (HAVE THAT MEAL PLAN!!) and having all the ingredients on the counter, and grouped in the fridge will cut down on the amount of brain power you have to pull on!
10. Designate a garbage bowl. In my world, this is the compost bin! All extra food peelings, shavings, and end bits can be taken out after the food is prepped. Having one place to put them, rather than having to walk to the trash every time, will save a lot of time and energy. Don’t compost? Still use the bowl, but then empty into the trash.
11. Drain and rinse. Before you start cooking, empty canned foods that need to be rinsed, fresh veggies, herbs, and other washables into a colander for washing. This is part of getting them all ready before you actually start cutting and cooking.
12. Decide what to cook first. Since you’ve already read and re-read the recipe (See the tips from last time!), You should know what order to do things in. But this step is key, you don’t want half of your recipe prepared in 5 minutes while the longer part of the recipe is still waiting to start. Not efficient!
13. Need to boil water? Cover the pot. Simple tip. Do I need to say more?
14. Combine recipe steps when possible. Some people are so afraid of messing with a recipe that this tip might seem like heresy! But sometimes, a chef who designed the recipe wants it to be a certain way. That doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. If you see a few ingredients you think you could add at the same time without much sacrifice in taste, go for it! It saves time and effort. I do this a lot of the time when I am altering recipes to share. More than 5 steps? No one wants to make that!!
15. As dinner cooks, do the dishes, set the table, prep tomorrow’s lunch, etc. My husband wishes I would do this more often, haha! If your recipe is going to take 20 minutes to simmer or you’re baking something that won’t be ready for another half-hour, it’s the perfect time to do a bit of cleaning up. It chops off clean-up time at the end of dinner. Or, take advantage of the time to get a quick workout in!
Here is one idea for preparing some ingredients ahead of time – minced garlic. It’s cheaper to buy it whole, but more convenient to buy it minced. Save some money and prep it yourself with a food processor. That’s what I did last weekend and got to use it all week! Plus, I still have enough for next week.
I’m not just talk – I practice what I preach!