Whether I'm cooking a meal just for myself or for the whole family, I don't mind taking my time with it. I enjoy the process as much as I enjoy the dish. But the easiest way to get bored of cooking is by spending time in the kitchen doing routine busywork.
These tips and shortcuts below will help you save your precious time by preparing faster, cooking faster, and cleaning faster.
1. Take out Milk, Meat, or Vegetables from the Fridge First
If you need to use milk, meat, or vegetables in your cooking and they're in the fridge, then the first thing you should do as soon as you enter the kitchen is to take them out. These ingredients accumulate some external moisture in the fridge which adds to the cooking time. You need to allow them to come to room temperature before you can
This also ensures that the items will be cooked evenly. Cold milk, cold meat, and cold vegetables cook rapidly on the surface but heat will not reach their interior as well.
2. Choose the Right Pan for Cooking Vegetables
Most of the time you'll be using either a saucepan or a frying pan to cook your vegetables.
Saucepans are deeper as compared to their base area. They're used to make gravy,sauces, or cook things in liquid. On the other hand, frying pans have a large base, area and slightly sloped raised sides. They're used to shallow fry food.
Saucepans are meant for boiling or steam-cooking the vegetables. Most starter recipes involve boiling so we all start our cooking journey with saucepans as the weapon of choice.
But the fastest way to cook vegetables is to stir-fry them in a frying pan. The larger base area means the vegetables are in contact with the heated surface more. This also ties into the previous tip because for stir-frying you slice and dice your vegetables into smaller pieces already.
Looking to brown a larger quantity of food fast? Use a frying pan. A larger heated surface area also means that the liquids reduce faster in the frying pan.
|Vegetable||Stir-fry(in minutes)||Steam(in minutes)||Microwave(in minutes)||Boil(in minutes)|
|Green beans (सेम)||3 to 4||5 to 15||6 to 12|
|Broccoli, flowerets (ब्रोक्ली केफूल)||3 to 4||5 to 6||4 to 5||4 to 5|
|Cabbage, shredded (पत्ता गोभी)||3 to 4||5 to 8||8 to 10||5 to 10|
|Cauliflower, flowerets (गोभी केफूल)||3 to 4||6 to 10||3 to 4||5 to 8|
|Mushrooms||4 to 5||4 to 5||3 to 4||3 to 4
in broth or wine
|Peas (मटर)||2 to 3||3 to 5||5 to 7||8 to 12|
|Bell peppers (शिमला मिर्च)||2 to 3||2 to 4||2 to 4||4 to 5|
|Spinach (पालक)||3||5 to 6||3 to 4||2 to 5|
|Turnips, cubed (शलजम, कटी हुई)||2 to 3||12 to 15||6 to 8||5 to 8|
If you're going to be cooking a smaller quantity of vegetables often, either invest in afrying pan or a small saucepan.
Whenever you're in a time crunch, pick a recipe that requires stir-frying instead of
3. Heat the Pan Before Starting Your Prep
This is one trick that comes naturally after you're somewhat familiar with cooking. But if you're still putting a cold pan on the stove, adding oil, adding ingredients, and waiting for it all to get warm, you need to change this habit.
Instead, keep the empty pan on the stove and let it get warm as you prepare the ingredients.
A hot pan from the start ensures that your food starts cooking the second it hits the
You save time by doing the prep as the pan gets hot.
4. Trim First, Wash Second
I used to automatic ally wash all my vegetables before trimming them and then I
would wash them again.
But I realized how inefficient and unnecessary it all was when I could simply trim the vegetables first and then wash them. You should do this with vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and mushrooms.
This allows you to clean the areas on the veggies that are usually hard to reach and quite dirty along with the surface of the veggies in one go.
5. Use a Small Waste Bowl to Clean as You Go
During preparation time, you have to make multiple trips to the garbage basket or compost bin to throw some or the other trash. This can be skin peels, inedible parts of vegetables, and minor spillings of ingredients.
Not only does the constant moving around waste time, often scraps fall on the ground as you're carrying them to the bin.
I'm more relaxed when I keep a small steel or glass bowl with me at all times during the prep and toss unwanted things in it.
Don't waste time peeling all vegetables: Vegetables and fruits have a nutritious skin which is rich in fiber. You can skip peeling if you've just washed them well. Beets and sweet potatoes cook and taste great with the skin on.
6. Cut Vegetables into Smaller Pieces
When you're cutting your vegetables for cooking, always try to cut them into smaller pieces.
This is especially important for thick root vegetables - whose underground plant parts are our food. Root vegetables include potatoes, beets, carrots, turnip, and so on. Cutting vegetables into smaller pieces means that the surface area that's in contact with the heat increases. The heat travels a shorter distance from the surface of the piece to the middle of it, speeding up the cooking process.
But don't just cut them small, cut them as uniformly-sized pieces as well. If some pieces are cut smaller than the rest:
the smaller ones will be done but the bigger pieces will be left uncooked, or the smaller ones will get overcooked and burnt while the bigger pieces get cooked properly.
7. Thin Down the Meat to Cook it Faster
To increase the cooking surface area in case of meat, you need to make it thinner instead of cutting it into smaller pieces.
Now, if you cook meat often I recommend buying a good meat mallet to thin the meat down. But if you make it occasionally, you can simply use a rolling pin.
The best way to thin down meat is to:
First beat it to 1/4th inch thick.
Then put it between two pieces of plastic wrap.
Start from the middle of the meat piece and gently pound it towards the edges. If you're using a rolling pin, apply a little force while rolling it down.
Make sure that you don't create a hole in the meat.
Spending 10 minutes on this little preparation will cut down your cooking time by about 20 minutes.
8. A Grate Way to Save Time
Some baking recipes require softened butter. But we store it in the freezer where it becomes a hard brick. Conventional wisdom says that we should take it out of the freezer so that it comes to room temperature by the time we're ready to use it. But you can't always remember to do that! In such a case, simply grate the frozen butter into flaky shreds and it will soften up in 2-5 minutes. But a grater is more useful than that. You can also shred vegetables with it, which cook even faster than cut vegetables. You can saute them in seconds or flash-fry them into crisps. If you're making a pureed vegetable soup, try grating your veggies instead of dicing them into small pieces. Grated vegetables soften
up instantly when you cook them up, meaning you'll be in and out of the kitchen in a jiffy.
9. Multitask if You're An Experienced Cook
Several long recipes involve multiple steps. And while one part is being cooked, there is room to prepare for the next part.
Those learning to cook should prepare everything beforehand so that they can focus on cooking.
But if you're an experienced cook, you can save time by figuring out the preparation order and multitasking.
This doesn't require you to know the recipe like the back of your hand either. You just need to be mindful of how much time something usually takes.
For example, if you know that onions take time to caramelize or brown, you can chop them up and start cooking them before you cut other ingredients.
10. Cook with Salt in Water
If you're cooking something like Maggi or pasta, the it takes longer to cook after water starts to boil. This is because water starts to convert into steam and less surface area of the food is in contact with the hot water.
This means if we can somehow prevent or delay the water from boiling while allowing its temperature to increase, our food will be cooked a little faster.
This can actually be done by adding some impurity into water whose boiling point is more than water's. An impurity which satisfies this criteria and which we won't mind in our food is common salt. Adding salt to water will raise its boiling point and shave some time off the cooking.
11. Cook Beans with Baking Soda
Add some baking soda to the water that you're using to soak your beans before you
cook them. In 2015, researchers found that beans that were soaked in water containing baking soda had decreased hardiness, decreased chewiness, improved texture, and lesser cooking time.
Another benefit is that these baking soda in water soaked beans will make you less
gassy and bloated.
12. Clean as You Cook
Everyone hates cleaning after cooking. We're already tired after preparing the food, cooking it, and eating it. Now we have to clean the mess we made too? Boo. Cleaning as you cook is not just a mental trick, it does save you a lot of time. Find some time to:
1. Fill the sink with warm soapy water.
2. Transfer pots, pans, utensils, bowls that you won't be reusing to the sink as you go.
3. Wipe down the kitchen platforms, countertops, and cutting boards.
4. Slide the dishes that have food stuck to them or which require soaking into the sink.
Soaked dishes will be easier and quicker to clean. These small cleaning activities will allow you to enjoy your meal instead of worrying about the horror that you might find in your kitchen once you're done eating.
There you go! 12 easy and quick tricks that will help you waste less time in the kitchen. Cooking shouldn't be a mindless chore. Spend your time on learning new recipes and experimenting instead of cleaning and preparation. Do you have any tricks of your own? Share them with us in the comments below.