5 Fast Tips to Save Time in the Kitchen!

Today, I’m passing along five easy tips to save you time in the kitchen.

You’re probably familiar with most, if not all, of them already. But they’re so worth revisiting. Because these are the simple tips, the ones that are so easy to disregard or forget, that are going to ensure that your kitchen adventures are speedy, successful, and stress-free. Big deal? I’d say so.  

So take the time to read through the tips below and make an effort to turn them into habit. It’ll take time — I still forget to set timers, and consequently burn things, more than I’d care to admit (such is the plight of one adjusting to using an oven as a toaster) — but, like I’ve said, you’ll get time too. So let’s not waste any more if it. Here we go! 

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This seems like a silly one, I know, but trust me: there’s little else as disappointing as getting halfway through that amazing recipe you’re making for that super-important occasion, only to find that you don’t have what you need — whether it be equipment, skills, supplies, or time — to make the dish as instructed. 

So before you do anything else, read through the recipe start to finish. Keep an eye out for:

  • Unfamiliar techniques
  • Unusual equipment
  • Long resting, roasting or rising times

Knowing what to do, and what you need to do it, before you actually get to doing it will save you tons of time! 

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Having all of your tools ready to go and your ingredients prepared before you start cooking is essential. Because this simple technique — one the French call mise en place, or “everything in its place” — will save you from teetering precariously on a tower of chairs in search of who-knows-what, when, according to the recipe, all you should be doing is adding it to the pan. Especially for those recipes where time is of the essence, being ready to go right off the bat makes the difference between delicious and disastrous. 

So read through your ingredients list and prepare your ingredients accordingly. If you’re told you’ll need three cups of diced onions, make sure they’re diced and measured from the get-go. And if you know you’ll be adding multiple ingredients to your creation in a single step — and you will know, because you will have read the recipe — you can measure them out into one bowl to save time cooking and cleaning up. Easy! 

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No one knows more about saving time preparing ingredients than professional chefs. So scour your favourite cookbooks (the library is a great place to expand your collection without significantly shrinking your bank account) for the tips and tricks that the best chefs recommend. 

Here are a few of my favourite chef-recommended tips for preparing ingredients in record time:

To grate ginger quickly and easily, store it in the freezer and grate it from a frozen state: when fresh, ginger’s tough fibers make grating and chopping a chore. Not so when frozen! Plus, storing ginger in your freezer makes it last for much longer than when kept in the fridge. While I don’t worry about ginger skin, if you don’t want it to make it into your cooking, simply scrape it off with a spoon before or after freezing. Skinless ginger should be stored in an airtight bag or container to maintain freshness.  

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To peel a clove of garlic, first smush the clove with the flat side of a knife: When super-fresh, garlic cloves are plump and firmly packed into their papery little skins (the cloves shrivel as they age, making the skins easier to remove, but the garlic less tasty). To save yourself from shredding the skin under your fingernails on garlic skins, squash the garlic clove under the flat part of a knife. The skin should come off easily after that.  
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To dice and chop onions in no time, use this speedy technique!

Have any time-saving prepping techniques? Feel free to share! 

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In my experience, dull knives not only slow you down, but they also increase the chance you’ll cut yourself. Because when you’re working with a dull blade, you end up applying more pressure and resorting to silly techniques to get the job done. As long as you exercise common sense when working with sharp blades — don’t cut at a faster speed than you’re comfortable with, keep those fingertips out of the way, wash the blade carefully and, as my mother’s been telling me for years, don’t lick anything directly off the knife — you’re going to get things done much more efficiently and safely. 

If you know what you’re doing, you can easily keep your knives sharp by using a commercial knife sharpener. If not — and I fall into this camp — you can keep your knives in good shape for a long, long time, by getting them professionally sharpened. If you’re in Edmonton, check out this thread for recommendations. If you’re elsewhere, bust out a phonebook, get Googling, or phone your local restaurant, culinary school, food-loving friend, or butcher’s shop for a recommendation! 

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Whether you’re cooking rice, toasting nuts, baking a cake, or simply adding a few extra minutes to a near-done batch of cookies, a timer is going to make sure that the hard work you’ve put in doesn’t go up in flames. Invest in one that beeps loudly and often, and get in the habit of setting it. Your dinner guests and your cookware will thank you for it. 

So there you have it, team! Five speedy tips that will save you time in the kitchen and, I hope, make you a happier, stress-free kitchen adventurer. Work them into your routine and, before you know it, you’ll be setting up mise en places in your sleep (breakfast, surely, will never be better). 

If you’ve got any time-saving tips of your own, let’s hear them! 

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