Try these techniques to improve your cooking time!
Whether you developed a love for cooking at a young age after watching one of your parents cook dinner every night or you simply cook to survive, you are probably always looking for ways to make a meal in less time. The quicker you can get to actually enjoying it, the better, right?
We've gathered some suggestions and tips from around the world wide web to help you shave some minutes off your cooking time while still being able to make delicious meals! Which ones might you try tonight or the next time you are preparing a meal?
Read recipes COMPLETELY before starting
This may seem like a simple, common-sense step, but often we don't do it in the rush to get dinner started after arriving home at 5 or 6 pm. Reading it completely will ensure you have all the tools and ingredients ready to go. And if there is a step that needs some time (for example, bringing something to room temperature), you can get that started while you are working on other steps.
Planning and Prepping
A little planning and prepping goes a long way. Try planning your meals on a weekly or monthly basis. Use a calendar (go the old-fashioned route of a paper one to hang on the front of your fridge or use your phone or computer). Whichever you decide to use, make sure you have easy access to it. Create your shopping list from that plan, and if possible, shop weekly instead of running to the store every few days. On Sunday, set aside time to make dishes such as soups, sauce or casseroles that you can then easily pull out during the week and just reheat. Try doubling the recipe and store the extras in individual containers in the freezer for future meals.
Cooking on the weekends, or doing at least some of the prep, like cutting up vegetables to roast or fruit for smoothies, can lead to week-day cooking that is less stressful, more nutritious, quicker, and easier. It may also help you resist the temptation of stopping for fast food on your way home after a long day.
Keep the skins on
According to this Bon Appétit article, many professional chefs leave the skins on potatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, carrots. Some even leave the leaves on celery in salads! Of course, you need to just make sure you wash the thoroughly before tossing them into a salad or other dish. Not only will you save time by not peeling your veggies, but the skins are full of good stuff – like antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
Sharpen those knives!
Taking care of your tools (knives, utensils, pans, etc.) is professionalism 101 (even if you are just cooking for your family!), and you've probably already heard the advice about keeping your knives sharpened. Not only are sharp knives safer to use, but they can also help you slice and dice, chop and cut more quickly and efficiently.
Did you know that in addition to prepping your work space with the right tools and ingredients needed for a recipe, you should prep the pans you will be using? We didn't until we did some research. Dave Feller, founder and CEO of Yummly (a great cooking, planning, and recipe tool to check out), told Lifehacker
you should place an empty pan on the stove and let it heat up as you prep ingredients. By the time you are ready to start cooking, it will be warm and ready for the ingredients, and the cooking time will be faster, too!
Clean as you go
Cleaning as you prep and cook might be debatable in some homes, but we've landed on the side of clean as you go (it's what our moms taught us). Wash prep tools and bowls as you go and let them air dry. Or if you have a dishwasher, throw them in and once filled, start it. By the time dinner is finished, the dishwasher should be ready to be unloaded and loaded again.
Also, cleaning as you go can help you relax and enjoy the meal more. Who wants to sit down to a delicious, well-prepared meal and stare at a mountain of dishes while eating?
If you want to learn tips, and not just time-saving ones, from well-known chefs across the country, you might want to bookmark this Food Network article so you can refer to it again and again. Here are four of the one-hundred tips that the article includes:
- “Low and Slow.”
~Pat Neely, Down Home with the Neelys
- “Acidity, salt and horseradish bring out full flavors in food.”
~Michael Symon, Iron Chef America
- “Taste as you go!”
~Anne Burrell, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef
- “Rest, rest, rest! Always let your meat rest — especially off a hot grill!”
~Melissa d'Arabian, Ten Dollar Dinners
Has all this talk about food, prep, and cooking made you start dreaming about a career in the culinary arts? What exactly would you learn? What types of courses would you take?
Salter College's Culinary Arts program combines classroom learning, lab classes, and externships so that students may gain hands-on experience to take out into the job world with them after completing the program. You would be learning about basic concepts and skills associated with the culinary arts as well as gain knowledge in areas such as:
- Food production methods
- Keeping a sanitary kitchen
- Controlling costs
In the laboratory kitchen courses, you would be learning about methods and techniques for cooking, baking, and catering. You could also learn about becoming a personal chef.
We hope you'll try one or all of these techniques soon in your kitchen – whether you are cooking just for you, your family, or planning a special-occasion dinner for a larger group!
If we've got you thinking about taking your love of cooking to the next level, we would love to talk to you about our culinary arts program!
This post is part of the Salter College weekly blog. Contact us today to learn more about applying to our various career training programs, or to request more information. We look forward to hearing from you.