In today’s world, the words ‘express’ and ‘quick’ seem to have taken on new significance. After all, considering just how fast paced a world we live in, expeditiousness should be significant! But – even as we consider quick food – we need to keep in mind that most of the ready-to-eat packaged meals or food you get seems to be loaded with harmful additives and preservatives. But hark back to the time of your mum or Grandmum – but then we certainly do not have the same kind of time on our hands to prepare our food from scratch. So – the most useful life hack in today’s world would probably be this list of 12 tips to cook faster!
As you may have guessed – our entire website is going to be aimed at cooking healthy and wholesome meals, just in less time than usual. And to begin with – we have these tips for you!
#1: Cutting tools should be sharp for quick and perfect cutting
Cutting, julienning, slicing, peeling, grating – all of these will be needed sometime or the other while cooking. But a blunt knife means you have a really tough time cutting the stuff – not to mention the strain you put on your hands. Similarly, when a recipe calls specifically for grating or julienning, being able to do them properly is essential. And the easiest way to ensure that is to get sharp cutting equipment and to keep them sharp!
#2: Learn your knife skills
If you’ve ever channel surfed on TV, you must’ve come across the occasional cookery show, where the master chef cuts up an obscene amount of food into perfect cuts – and in record time! You probably think that they speed up the video for those scenes – but the fact is that in most cases, they do not! That’s because proper knife skill actually does make you that fast! So learn the skills and work on mastering them today so you can save more time!
#3: Learn to hold your knife correctly
How you hold your knife determines how much control you have over the equipment. And that is where knife hold plays a big role. You, like many others, may be tempted to hold your knife in such a way that your index finger rests on the wrong side of the blade – but this is just wrong practice, and it seriously messes up the stability of the cutting instrument. Instead, make the effort to keep your hands only and completely on the knife handle – thumb and index finger on the two sides, with the other 3 fingers holding the handle– and see the difference!
#4: Learn to cut efficiently
There are times when you are asked to get a certain cut – but you know that cutting the veggie or fruit to that exact shape isn’t exactly a piece of cake. For instance, fine dicing an onion – you will never manage it if you do not know the onion dicing hack:
- Cut the onion in half and then hold one half steady. You will cut, but none of the cuts should go all the way to the end that you are holding.
- Slice horizontally to make large slices.
- Now cut from top to bottom, close to each other, with the knife at right angles to the earlier cuts.
- Next hold it together and chop as you would to make thin strips of onion – you’ll end up with a fine mince!
#5: An organized kitchen is a quick kitchen!
When your kitchen is well organized, you know exactly where things are so you do not end up wasting precious time looking for stuff. Also, a good strategy is to keep the absolute essentials on a counter of the countertop. By essentials we mean oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Because these are things frequently needed, possibly in everything you cook. The same goes for your pantry – organize in such a way that you have the frequently used stuff in the first or second row – keep everything that you need occasionally at the back.
#6: Get a spice rack and containers that you can easily look through
A spice rack is the ultimate way to cut down on time and avoid a mess! Since everything will have a designated spot – things are much less likely to be spread over the space. Also, ideally keep the spice rack in a place where you can see it from the top – and label the lids of the spice container. That way you know exactly at a go which containers you need to get out for the food you are cooking. You save time by not having to take them out one by one to check!
#7: Keep your pots and pans hanging
Most people own a decent number of pots and pans in their kitchen. And most people also tend to just stack them up by size. Now consider you need the one that is right at the bottom, you have to lift off all the rest first (in batches if they are all heavy) and then take the pan you need. After that, you have to again painstakingly put everything back in place. But if you have hooks around the kitchen, where you can hang some of the most frequently used stuff – you have quick and easy access to them! Also, after pots and pans air dry, you need to spend the extra time putting them back in their cabinet – but this way, you can just let them dry on their hooks!
#8: When cooking read a recipe and prep first – cook later
Let’s take a look at a classic situation – you are rushing in the morning, and you are making something for lunch. You have your cookbook opened to the right page – and you are following the recipe step by step – albeit meticulously. Now, it calls for a sprinkle of paprika – and in the rush, you forget that your paprika doesn’t have a sprinkler attachment. In the rush, you just open the cap and try to ‘sprinkle’ some on – and you land up with half of the paprika on top of the hot cooking food in your pan. That is definitely a disaster – and one that you just cannot recover from in a rush!
Instead, start by carefully, and mindfully reading the whole recipe. Another time saver is to prep all the ingredients and store them in different bowls. You can also prep the night before – thus saving precious time in the morning! Keep these lined up in order next to your workspace. And then start the cooking. You are much less likely to mess up, and you can just rinse them as you go and place them in the open dishwasher.
#9: Multitasking is your best friend!
This may take a bit of time to master – but once you do, you will really find that you will get more done! And by multitasking, we mean things like:
- As you turn on your coffee machine to brew, take out your chicken and marinate it for lunch or dinner.
- If you are cooking pasta and are making a quick sauce, put the pasta water on to boil first – because this can then heat up while you get on with the rest!
- If you are making a cake for guests, get the cake done first – and you can always start prepping other things that may need to go in the oven in the time that the cake takes to bake! That way, no need to preheat the oven again, just take the cake out and stick the next one in.
#10: Make bulk batches in advance during holidays or weekends
Armed with airtight containers and a proper freezer, you can actually make your food last you a long time! And that way you even save time. There are a few things that you need to make a few times over the month – instead make them once and use. Examples could include:
- Tomato sauce – this is very versatile and can become the base for many recipes.
- Soups and stews – they take a lot of time to make, and that’s why we end up not making them often.
- Bread and cake mixes – mix all dry ingredients and store in individual Ziploc bags, with a label on top specifying amounts of wet ingredients. That way no measuring, no sifting, just mix and bake!
- Keep veggies and fruits ready chopped and portioned out in Ziploc bags in the freezer. So you save prep time when cooking or making smoothies.
- Make store cubes that are healthy and organic – just cook a large pot of stock and pour it into ice cube trays and freeze. Next time you need to flavor a dish, but don’t have the time to cook it for long enough, just add in a few cubes – no need to thaw!
#11 Learn more recipes that you can cook and store
There are two things here – one is to learn the recipes well by cooking them repeatedly. When you are cooking anything from memory, you will always do it quicker. Also look for recipes that can help you to make bases and sauces that you can use for multiple dishes and that can be stored. This will allow you to save time.
#12: Make use of quick cooking methods and appliances
Quick cookers, pressure cookers, microwaves – they all make your job easier and they also use much less time. So invest in some good ones – and use them!
And there you have your 12 tips to cook faster…there can be many others, but we’re not fitting those in here. Keep a look out here for more great ways to save time when cooking. Cooking can be a passion, even when you are busy with other things for a greater part of the day. But, how? You will learn that with us!