Want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time watching re-runs of the West Wing on Netflix?
I know I do. (Or I would, if the internet on the farm was up to the task!)
Actually, I'm not even sure if the West Wing is on Netflix, but let me get back to my original point.
I've put together some tips to help you save time in the kitchen. They're little things I do every week to make meal times easier. The best part is, none of them are major changes - just little tricks you can work into your kitchen routine.
how to save time in the kitchen
1. Bag out. When you're at the supermarket or butcher, order your meat in meal-sized bags. I generally cook about 500g of mince for dinner. When I'm at the deli or the butcher, I order 2kg of mince in 500g bags. The butcher is always happy do this and I can freeze meal-size portions.
2. Prior preparation prevents poor performance. When I get home from the shops, I chop the meat I buy before I freeze it. I take the time to chop meats like chicken thighs and gravy beef into bite-sized pieces and then freeze them in meal-sized portions. Being able to defrost the perfect amount of already prepared chicken is a real time-saver of nights when we're late in from the paddock and everyone is hungry now.
3. Fresh is best, except when it's not. Sometimes using frozen packaged vegetables is the difference between getting your family getting their five serves of veg a day or not. Equally, canned chickpeas, lentils and other legumes are a quick and easy alternative to preparing your own.
4. The sharpest tool in the shed. Sharp knives are fast knives. Many seasoned kitchen folk will also tell you they're safer knives.
5. Out of the frying pan. Need something to sizzle? Pre-heat your pans a few moments before you need them. This can be as easy at putting your saucepan on the stove over a low heat while you're prepping your ingredients, then upping the heat just before you're ready to cook.
6. Cook once, dine often. When roasting chickens, I always add an extra bird. The leftover roast chicken is handy for lunches, kids dinners and delicious pasta bakes. I apply the same principle to spaghetti bolognese; I make more than I need and use the residual in lasagna. When making soup, I double the batch and freeze half for a night we're home late from swimming (or I decide to sit on the couch and watch West Wing reruns instead).
7. Cleanliness is next to speediness. My mum is going to laugh so hard when she reads this tip, but she's right. Cleaning as you go is quicker. If you have a sink full of soapy water while you're cooking you can quickly wash as you go. Saves being faced with a whopping pile of washing up at the finish.
Bonus tip: too many chefs speed the broth. Since I got crook, I've been asking Bearhands to help in the kitchen when I'm in a hurry. Two chefs are often better than one. (Although I seem to do much more tip seven when he's in the kitchen!)
over to you master chefs: what's your best time-saving kitchen tip?