A few of you said that you wished for more practical tips for saving time in the kitchen after Pauli’s interview. I thought it was a great idea! I originally thought of doing a long post giving a variety of different tips, but decided to give you one bite at at time.
I think that this is an important topic to consider, as I know that many of you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. There is nothing wrong with spending time in the kitchen, and you will definitely have to spend some time if you want to cook good quality food. However, I don’t think it should be a full time job. Once upon a time, without our modern conveniences, it was. But with our “modern” tools, we shouldn’t have to spend 6 hours in the kitchen everyday preparing our daily fare. At least, I don’t!
There is so many aspects of this topic, it’s hard to know where to start. But I’ve decided to start with speed, just because it’s something that’s not mentioned a lot outside of the professional cooking world.
I am not a professional cook, but I worked for a little while for a friend who did go to cooking school and owned a cafe( as well as being an excellent home cook before this point). One thing that she impressed on me was the importance of learning to do a task quickly. And boy, was she fast in the kitchen! It was hard to keep up with her! But the point is this, you can do the same task at a slow pace or a fast pace. If you are concerned about time, then try to learn to do it at a fast pace.
Here’s a few ideas of how to make that happen.
Separate Your Tasks into “Motions”
1) If you are doing a task of say, making rolls, it’s going to be a lot faster if you do the same motion over and over again. For example, you could cut off a piece of dough, shape it, and then place it on the cooking sheet. But you have to do a different motion for each step of the process. It’s generally faster to cut the dough into even pieces all at one point, and then shape them all. When you are cutting the dough into pieces, you are doing the same motion and can accomplish it quickly as you aren’t setting down the knife in between cuts, and you get in the “swing of it”. When you are shaping the dough into rolls, you don’t have to pick up a knife and cut a new piece off in between shapings.
This principle is especially helpful when doing large projects and can make a surprising difference in time spent in the kitchen. Overall, remember to keep your thinking brain on in the kitchen and your eyes open for new ways of doing things that are faster and more efficient.
2) Stay Focused
I am a dreamer, and often find myself looking out the window or just simply slowing down as my thoughts wander as I make dinner. This is fine if I have all of the time in the world to accomplish what I need to in the kitchen, but it’s not very effective for getting a lot of tasks done. I think that this is a common problem with home cooks (at least it seems so when I am working in the kitchen with other moms).
Simply staying focused at the task on hand can help me accomplish the task faster.
While I can fall into the habit of always trying something new in the kitchen, most of us will find that if we practice something we will become not only better and more confident in that task but also faster. As you cook and find your favorite recipes, repeat them on a consistent basis. I find that I come up with faster ways to prepare meals the more familiar I am with it. It’s also nice when you know the recipe so well you hardly even need to use a recipe. That saves time too!
4)Beat Your Speed
As you continue to work at different skills in the kitchen, work at increasing your speed. Can you chop that parsley faster? Mix that sourdough together more quickly? Or throw that slow cooker meal together in a more efficient manner? Sometimes I think of it as kind of a game, seeing if I can beat my last speed. But I enjoy that kind of thing (it brings out my competitive side ).
Overall, not only are there specific recipes and techniques that will save you time in the kitchen, but also speed and efficiency that comes with practice and skill and good technique. However, the point is to make your kitchen time less stressful, not more. So if you find yourself stressing over trying to work faster in the kitchen or cutting off limbs in attempt to save ten minutes, slow down! We aren’t professional cooks, and one of the advantages to the home cook is that we won’t get fired if dinner is ten minutes late.