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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Save Time When Preparing a Meal

Sometimes it’s great to spend an afternoon preparing a meal in a leisurely fashion. Other times you don’t have that luxury and getting everything done fast is the top priority. There are all sorts of tips and short-cuts that you can use when you’re in a hurry to deliver.

If you’re in a rush, choose your dish carefully. The best cook in the world can’t hurry up a slow roast, and dishes that include a range of different techniques and processes are always going to be more time-consuming. But, even if your dish isn’t entirely straightforward, there are still things you can do to save time – starting by putting the ingredients out, so you’re not chasing around, riffling through closets.

Even if you’re a purist about preparing food from scratch, sometimes you can compromise a little without sacrificing quality. Pre-prepared fresh and frozen foods can save you a lot of time scraping, peeling and dicing. It won’t be a solution for every dish, but it really won’t matter for others. Buying grated cheese, pre-chopped garlic in oil and other ready-made foods can make a significant difference to the time you spend wielding a knife in the kitchen.

Make use of labor-saving devices, as appropriate. They will also help you to multitask more effectively to speed things up. While something is being beaten in the mixer you can get on with something else. Good quality gadgets can also make life easier. A good device for slicing and dicing really can do the job effectively, and in half the time.

Microwaves and conventional ovens are both excellent for people looking to save time. Even if you’re not keen on things cooked in the microwave, part-cooking things like vegetables in the microwave first can cut down on standard hob-top cooking time. Also take a look at your cooking habits. If you’re making mashed potato, don’t cook them as halves. Dice them smaller and you’ve not only saved yourself some time but some gas and electricity to boot.

If you associate your ordinary oven with dishes that take hours, think of it from another angle. Vegetables and other dishes just need topping and tailing, drizzling with oil and away you go. You’re free to work on other elements of the meal. You may think frying is fast – and sometimes it’s the quickest method. But if you’ve got other things to do too then you’ll be wasting time checking and turning things and making sure the oil isn’t too hot.

There are two kinds of cooks – those who wash up as they go along and those who end up with a mountain of dirty dishes. If you get into the habit of doing the former, you can double up and save time that way too. A lot of kitchen efficiency is about re-examining your normal way of doing things. It may not be the best way. After all, you’ve got better things to do – like eating your home-cooked meal and chilling out with an accompanying coffee.

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