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Cooking can easily eat into your time – time that can be spent in numerous other activities! Some kitchen tips for simple, efficient cooking!
By Anne John
(Before we get to the tips, don’t miss this fun video from our post sponsors, Corelle, the makers of beautiful dinnerware for your kitchen).
Life is too short to be spent sweating and slaving away in the kitchen. And if you’re anything like me – a lethal combo of laziness and impatience – you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. But one has to eat and feed the brood.
Eating out every day can cause serious damage to both your health and your wallet. So what does one do? The trick is to find a balance! Here are some simple ways to cut short the time spent in your kitchen.
Planning never fails
There comes a day when every home cook inevitably faces this dilemma: what to cook today? Precious time is wasted in rummaging around the kitchen and checking out the contents of the fridge to decide what to cook. Worse, after you’ve decided and started cooking, you realize that you are out of that one important ingredient. These are the classic symptoms of an unplanned kitchen – like mine used to be.
I found that hanging a small notepad and pen in the kitchen to note down anything that I would need to pick up on my next supermarket visit as and when I remembered it or as soon as I noticed that the stock is running low, helps. Also do spend some time before going grocery shopping to list out the meals that you plan to cook for the week. You end up buying exactly what you need and you use whatever you’ve bought.
Organize your kitchen
A close cousin of planning is organization. A clean and well-organized kitchen is a pleasure to cook in. After a hard day’s work your motivation to cook will go kaput if there is a pile of dirty dishes staring at you from the sink. Wash and clean up as you cook, or at least rinse and keep – this makes washing up easier and also keeps pesky pests at bay.
Don’t crowd your countertop with appliances that you use once in a blue moon. Assign places to ladles, spoons, bowls, pots and pans and put them away neatly, so that you’ll know exactly where to find everything instead of wasting time hunting for a utensil. Mine is a tiny kitchen but if you are lucky enough to have a big and spacious one then try to design and arrange your kitchen in such a way that you don’t have to keep walking from one end to the other constantly – this will only tire you out.
While all of us would love to eat freshly cooked meals every day, sometimes it’s just not possible. Often I make a double batch of whatever I am cooking and freeze half. When I am not in a mood to cook anything elaborate, I simply grab something from the freezer and throw it into the microwave or the oven – and voila! Home-cooked food in minutes! Most curries and sabzis freeze quite well for a few days.
If freezing meals is not your cup of tea, you could still do a lot of other things. Grind ginger-garlic paste, add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice and refrigerate in an air-tight container; chop vegetables like carrots and beans and freeze then in freezer bags; grate coconut and freeze it; roast and grind spices and store them in air-tight containers. These small steps make cooking in a hurry a breeze!
Use a pressure cooker
I believe that a pressure cooker is an absolute blessing in any kitchen. If you are short on time then the humble pressure cooker is a must in your kitchen. It is a great multi-tasker – one can cook rice, dal and boil potatoes all at the same time! A pressure cooker drastically cuts the time spent in the kitchen as well as the fuel you consume – boiling rajma on the stovetop would easily take more than an hour, while the pressure cooker makes quick work of it in about 20 minutes. Seriously, what more can you ask for?
You are a beautiful human being and you need to preserve your sanity. Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Involve your family and turn it into bonding time. Ask them to pitch in with the chopping, stirring, setting the table or washing. Your children are bound to grow up as responsible and self-sufficient individuals. And with all the chatter and extra helping hands, you won’t know how time flew by!
Pic credit: Robbert Van Der Steeg