Do you love cooking but hate the hours you spend preparing a great meal in the kitchen? We’ve all been there – staring at a mountain of fresh ingredients, feeling excitement and dread at the thought of preparing a meal from scratch. Spending endless hours chopping, peeling, and prepping ingredients can be a real drain.
We understand that the heart of a successful kitchen lies in its ability to stay efficient. The ability to streamline your prep process can make a world of difference, not only in saving time but also in enhancing the overall cooking experience. Today we’ve teamed up with Well Kept Services with Chef Derrick Lewis to give you practical tips to cut down on kitchen prep time.
1. Organize Your Kitchen
Before diving into the prep work, take a moment to organize your kitchen. Having a clutter-free workspace can significantly reduce your prep time. Here’s how:
- Declutter: Start by removing unnecessary items from your countertops and cabinets. A clutter-free kitchen is easier to navigate and work in.
- Group Similar Items: Store similar utensils, cookware, and ingredients together. This makes it easier to find what you need when you need it.
- Invest in Quality Tools: A chef is only as good as their tools; the same applies to your kitchen. High-quality knives, cutting boards, and utensils can make a difference. Sharp knives cut through ingredients like butter, reducing the time and effort needed for prep. Invest in a good set, and keep them well-maintained.
As Chef Derrick says, “The key to any successful kitchen venture lies in proper planning”. This means that before you even step into the kitchen, take a moment to jot down the recipes you want to prepare. Next, you will want to make a detailed shopping list to ensure you have all the necessary ingredients. This way, you’ll avoid those frustrating mid-prep grocery store runs. Having all the ingredients ready and prepped will also allow you to see what cookware, plates, and storage you may need for your meal.
3. Preheating Your Stove/ Oven While Prepping
While this cooking technique might seem a bit unconventional, achieving the perfect temperature with your pan or oven can significantly reduce your waiting time during cooking. For example, set your stove to medium-low heat while adding garlic for speedy veggie prep. While cooking, occasionally give it a light swirl as you swiftly prepare the rest of your meal. This way, you won’t have a fully prepped plate waiting on your stove to heat up.
In certain living spaces, especially those with older models, ovens and stoves can take quite a while to reach the desired temperature. However, this time doesn’t need to go to waste! Use this preheat period to multitask and watch how you can save up to 25 minutes on prep, which typically takes an hour. Don’t let your older stovetop hinder you from saving time in the kitchen for your next meal.
4. Cook Ingredients Ahead Of Time
This trick will halve your cooking time and spare you a headache at the end of the day. When your stomach is rumbling, and you’re yearning for something special for dinner, this trick is a lifesaver. Think similar to meal prepping, but you’re just cooking the items that need to be combined later. Preparing ahead does have its limitations, though. This tip is excellent for preparing salad, such as hard-boiling eggs or mashed potatoes. While it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for your cooking needs, cooking ahead can significantly reduce your cooking time. Take hard-boiled eggs, for example, which typically require around 20 minutes to boil the water. By preparing these ingredients in advance or purchasing them pre-made, you cut your prep time for your favorite meal in half.
5. Maintain Order in the Fridge and Pantry
This is a branch off of the value of “preparedness”. And most chefs or anyone who has spent time in a professional kitchen will agree. Avoid spending unnecessary time hunting for ingredients in the fridge or pantry. A well-organized kitchen will ultimately save you valuable minutes during meal preparation. Start by decluttering your pantry, fridge, and freezer for a great head start. If you want to get wildly ahead, stock up your pantry, create shelf labels, and document expiration dates.
6. Having Your Spice Blends Ready
While this cooking shortcut might initially appear unconventional, don’t dismiss it. By pre-planning your spice blends and having them readily available, you’re avoiding that frantic last-minute rush. Additionally, it eliminates the potential for errors when hurrying to finish cooking and satisfy your hunger.
It’s easy to accidentally over- or under-season when you’re in a rush after a long day at work or school. You’re protecting your meal by thoughtfully preparing and keeping your spice blends within reach. This can make a significant difference during those last-minute cooking crunches. This trick not only shaves off precious minutes but also rescues your dish from ending up unsatisfactory. It saves you time and serves as a safety net when you’re at your hungriest.
7. Use Time-Saving Kitchen Tools
In the kitchen, there are numerous tools designed to expedite mundane tasks. Consider using kitchen shears for tasks like peeling shrimp and cutting meat and herbs, a garlic press for crushing garlic, and a citrus squeezer for extracting fresh juice in seconds. Tools are supposed to be used as just that – resources for us to use in the kitchen. Work smarter, not harder!
8. Embrace Batch Cooking
Cooking in batches is a game-changer when it comes to saving time. Prepare larger quantities of certain ingredients (like grains, beans, or proteins) and store them for later use. This reduces prep time for future meals and the number of dishes you’ll have to wash. Batching also helps control your food costs and get a better idea of your general intake. We love batching!
9. Clean as You Go
Lastly, practice the “clean as you go” method. Another hot tip from Chef Derrick at Well Kept Services. The concept here is that you will be left with far less to do by the end of the meal. What you do is, as you finish using utensils, cutting boards, or bowls, wash or load them into the dishwasher right then and there- while they are still in your hand. This habit will ensure that your kitchen remains organized and clean throughout the cooking process, and you won’t be left with a mountain of dishes to tackle after your meal is ready.
By incorporating these tips into your kitchen routine, you’ll be amazed at how much time you can save during prep. To reduce the time and stress of cooking, you can hire a private chef service who knows how to cook delicious meals quickly – with none of the prep or clean-up time! We hope you enjoyed these tips. Be sure to save this article and be on the lookout for the next at-home tips!