Time Saving Tips



Three meals a day, seven days a week equals... a whole lot of time in the kitchen. And when "cook" is only one of your innumerable job titles, that time is at a premium especially here in the US where you have to do everything - from chopping to cleaning to washing.

Putting together a great meal has a lot more to do with Getting Things Done than Mastering the Art of Cooking. Planning in advance, breaking big tasks down into small ones and achieving a relaxed state of readiness is crucial to productivity in the kitchen. To help you plan, prepare, and cook better food, I've put together some of my favorite food and kitchen hacks, from the nuts and bolts. I have been using most of these ideas since the time I got married and started full-fledged cooking of my own. Some of the ideas I got from friends who use it but I never got down to implementing them.

Have a Plan

Plan your week's menu when you do your weekly grocery shopping, so then you don't have to stand in front of the fridge each day thinking "What to cook today?"

Freeze

We have a big freezer but still we always run short of space. I use a lot of frozen vegetables - bought in bulk, chopped from BJs/Costco like beans, green peas, spinach, mixed vegetables etc. For others I buy fresh, chop them and freeze them like Green and Red Pepper / Capsicum, Onions,

Fresh herbs like Dhaniya (Coriander) and mint don't stay fresh for long. Mine used to always get spoilt by the time I got to them. I got this tip somewhere on the Internet and have been using it ever since. Buy in bulk, chop them fine, put them into ice trays and pour a tiny amount of water in each compartment. When it freezes, pop out your 'herb cubes', store them in labelled ziploc bags and you've got herbs on demand, exactly when you need them.

I like to make fresh rotis everyday, but you can make them ahead of time and freeze them. When you want to use them, just re-heat in pan or microwave. This way you will have extras all the time for those sudden guests. ;)

Whenever I make samosas, I make extra and freeze the rest. Don't fry them, just fill it and freeze or you can fry them light and then freeze. When ou have guests or you want to eat them, just fry them and you are done. A big time-consuming snack ready in minutes.

Fridge

You can saute onions and tomatoes separately, refrigerate them and use them as and when you need. They can easily be stored for upto a month.

Ginger are Garlic are used in almost all Indian Curries. Irrespective of what the recipe says, I keep bottles of Ginger and Garlic paste and Tamarind Concentrate in my fridge. You don't have to use the store bought ones that have preservative. You can make them at home.

Multi-task

This is the key to getting the work done quickly. For example, if you are making tea, don't just stand near stove. In that time you can cut veggies or clean or anything else.

Don't let the dishes pile

I never am able to work in the kitchen if my sink has dirty dishes in it. I keep transferring them to the dishwasher as and when they get dirty. Its less pressure to do little things than have a whole lot to do in one time. To enable me to do this, I always clear my clean dishes out of the dishwasher asap.

If you don't have a dishwasher, you can fill your sink with soap water before you start cooking and keep washing them as you go. I never had to do this but came across it somewhere.

Clean as you cook

I keep cleaning the counter as I cook. Once I am done chopping and moved to the stove, I clean the chopping board, knives and platform used while I am cooking. It keeps my kitchen clean always.

Once I am done making the last roti, I start cleaning up while my last roti is still cooking.

Cooking Basics

I try to use the same pot a couple of times before sending it off to the dishwasher. Like I make tea, boil eggs, make macaroni and cheese in the same bowl rinsing in between.

I try to avoid cooking directly in the pressure cooker. I almost always use the inside pots, then I don't have to wash the cooker everytime.

Microwave / Bake

I use the microwave / Oven whenever I can. This way I don't have to keep a watch on them - just set the timer and you can relax till its done. I use microwave for making rice, boiling potatoes, re-heating. I use Oven for making french-fries (makes them a little less fatty, and they taste equally good), re-heating when cooked for a party. Here in the US we always have a huge cooking range which has a big oven.

Easier Options

You don't have to cook an elaborate meal everyday. Take break once a week and cook one healthy dish, like pasta with lots of veggies which saves time for elaborate cooking, provides a change and nutrition as well.

More to Come

2 comments:

crispus said...

this is good good tip.I appreciate your posting very very much..as a very harried mother of a naughty 6 month old and also a wife who cooks 3times a day 7 days a week..this all gets overwhelming at times..esp since i cant stand a dirty kitchen and etc...I too try to multi task..while making tea, cleaning and try to do some chopping and masalas ahead of time..
Its a lovely thought to post this, ur advice is happily taken!

Anonymous said...

its very useful tip,wonderfulll.I mean managing everything that includes husband 10 month old baby and my college(lotssss of work).
i loved frozen section, now i feel like god has blessed us with one wonderfull thing FREEZER...........I loved your tips and receipies ,and needed them the most especially at this time along with studies and family.
thanks a lot.
pls keep posting new tips and advices.
you saved me from being a 24hr robotic machine.