Cooking at home saves both money and calories, along with making sure you control the ingredients that go into each meal. Still, many people might simply not have time to cook a hot meal from scratch three times a day. The good news is, they don’t really have to.
Experienced home cooks usually find ways to reduce cooking time as they grow more proficient in this area of housework. They might not be able to whip exotic and complicated choices every time, but several shortcuts help them put a nutritious meal on the table without much hassle.
With time and practice, you too can learn how to reduce your cooking time. This way, you’d be spending less time slaving in the kitchen and more on handling other chores. Saving a few minutes here and there could also give you more free time to pursue your true passions. These ten ways will hopefully give you the control you deserve:
1. Know the Value of Roasting
Roasted chicken is a favorite meal in most households. It goes well with rice, vegetables, bread, and gives you a lot of yummy leftovers to use in the next few days. If your family isn’t vegetarian, you might want to consider cooking up a large batch of this at least once a week. No matter what you’re roasting, read up on the correct methods in order to avoid raw areas or long cooking times.
For chicken, you should cut the backbone out and flatten the whole thing. After seasoning, you can simply put this in the oven; it’ll take much less time to cook. Look up the best roasting methods for vegetables and other ingredients as well; having these procedures in mind will save you a lot of time.
2. Use Muffin Tins
We all have muffin tins or muffin pans lying around, only to be used on an occasional baking day. Why not make use of these to portion our meals and cut down on cooing time? The next time you make meatloaf or mac and cheese, bake them using your muffin tins. You’ll be able to serve them much more quickly and without the risk of wastage or overeating. Plus, the leftovers will be easy to store and use.
3. Make a Batch of Broth
If you have some veggie or chicken broth in the freezer, it’s much easier to whip up something delicious for lunch or dinner. You can simply take out the box, heat up the liquid, and add a few other ingredients for a variety of dishes. These include instant couscous, flavorful rice, or soups.
4. Par-Boil Before Baking
If a recipe calls for baking something, pre-cook the items a bit before you pop them in the oven. You can start the cooking process on the stove, or pan-sear the meat first. steaming and boiling are also good options, if only for a few minutes. Just direct baking will probably take a lot of time and require strict supervision, so get things in control first.
5. Dice Before Boiling
There are scores of quick vegan/vegetarian meal ideas (Quick Vegan/Vegetarian Meal Ideas) out there, but they do require a lot of prep. Make sure you know the shortcuts before you start peeling, boiling, chopping, or dicing. For instance, you can have mashed potatoes on the table much more quickly if you dice them before boiling.
For other vegetables, you should chop them in small pieces before the cooking process. Cooking these on high heat will get you your meals in a much shorter period of time.
6. Get Used to Lids
If all your pots don’t have lids, invest in a few. This might seem like a no-brainer, but putting lids on your ingredients while they’re cooking will trap in that necessary heat. This will result in a softer, more moist result that’s ready much faster than otherwise. Get used to putting a lid even on frying pans and woks; you’ll find yourself turning off the stove much sooner.
7. Meal Prep Where Possible
Take out one day each week and see what you can do to make things easier during those busy mornings. Some might want to cut up and store their vegetables in boxes for the whole week. You might also try boiling and shredding chicken for using in sandwiches and soups for the near future.
Incidentally, there’s no need to make a huge weekly chore of this pre-cutting and storing. Turn on your favorite show and start your preps! This will make the time and work pass much more quickly. Here are some more tips on how to meal prep like a pro (How to Meal Prep Like a Pro).
8. Freeze Cheese
Some recipes might call for grated cheese, which is easier said than done. Pre-grated cheese can have flour and other preservatives, so it’s best to accomplish this process at home. However, soft and even hard cheeses could be a challenge to grate, so freeze them beforehand. Even a half-hour in the freezer will make any kind of cheese much easier to grate and handle.
9. Invest in a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is one of the essential kitchen gadgets that save time and labor. (Essential Kitchen Gadgets that Save Time and Labour) It’s a must-have if you’re away from home most of the day. Once you get the hang of some recipes, you’ll find it a cinch to throw in all the ingredients and plug in the cooker before heading out. This way, you’ll come home to a wonderful meal, a mouth-watering smell in the kitchen, and minimal cleanup for the night.
10. Make Cubes
There are several kitchen hacks you can accomplish with something as simple as an ice tray. Look these up and see which ones you can use to cut your cooking time in half or even shorter. For example, you can puree fresh tomatoes and freeze them I an ice cube tray. Once they’re solid, store them in a ziplock bag and take one out for cooking when you need it. This way, you’ll save the time it takes to slice, blanch, or blend tomatoes in your curries or sauces.
Another hack here is to freeze your leftover herbs in olive oil. These cubes will come in handy for scrambling eggs, making stir-fries, or any dish that needs a bit of flavor.
We don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen every single day, even if we consume most of our meals at home. With the right gadgets and preparation, cooking meals could be a matter of minutes. Try to get some works on the subject and put in a bit more time for meal preparation at least once a week. You’ll soon be surprised at the time you free up!