Every smart homemaker knows that budget doesn’t only mean penny pinching; it also equates to time management and all the kitchen smarts that go with making the most of one’s time. With a litany of everyday to dos, busy moms know that every kitchen minute counts. Hence, the smallest amount of time saved is ultimately precious and every little time-saving hack is greatly appreciated and thanked for. As a cooking partner, we’ve rounded up handy reminders designed to maximize your time in the kitchen without having to sacrifice the quality of your meal. Read on.
- Review your recipe.
This is a basic time-saving kitchen rule. Before you even start peeling veggies, thawing your meat, or boiling water, read your recipe and discern what needs to be done first. That way, you know how to allot time for ingredient preparation and finish certain tasks while others are in the works. For instance, you could be dicing your carrots while you boil a pot of water, or you could be thawing your meat while you chop your onions and mince your garlic. That allows you to multi-task and save time.
- Not all needs to be peeled.
Know that some produce need not be peeled. Sometimes, the nutrients are in the skin, which makes “eating the skin” perfectly okay. Carrots and sweet potatoes are examples of produce that are okay to be eaten without having to be peeled. Just be sure you wash and scrub them really well.
- Cook — in many ways.
There are long cook dishes that are perfect for weekends; the same recipes that can make great leftover bombs reincarnated to other creative meals for the rest of the week. Case in point: you can roast two whole chickens on weekends and set aside one chicken for quick lunches or dinners. Think easy chicken quesadillas or chicken salads. The options are endless.
- Prepare double batches of sauces and soups.
Similar to the idea of having to “cook once, prepare many ways”, try whipping up your favorite pasta sauce and soup in bigger servings and having them chilled in the fridge for nights when you don’t have time to cook. That way, you just have to thaw or microwave your sauce and pasta and voila! Dinner is served!
- Prepare for the week.
Save an hour or two over the weekend preparing your ingredients like mincing your garlic, peeling and dicing your veggies, grating your carrots, and cutting your meat. Put them in containers inside the fridge, ready to use on after-work weekdays when you’re just too tired to do all the preps.
- Saute veggies first.
This is most applicable to vegetable soups. Always saute your veggies before adding meat broth or water. The heat makes your vegetables soften faster, reducing your cooking time by 5-10 minutes. This also allows the flavor of your vegetables to blend in better with your broth.
- Go for wide pans.
The wider the surface of your pan, the faster the cooking process. That’s because a bigger surface area of your pan directly touches the stove. Hence, it gets heated faster, broths boil quicker, and meats are cooked easier.
- Cut food into smaller pieces.
The smaller the pieces, the faster the cooking time. This goes for vegetables cut into smaller pieces and meats that are thinly sliced versus those that are thick and uncut and which would require more amount of time to be cooked.
- Frozen butter? Grate, don’t wait.
When recipes call for softened butter but your limited time says no, do this trick: grate your cold, frozen butter on a box grater and shred them nicely into thin flakes. They’re easier to soften versus if you just wait for them to melt under room temperature.
Cooking faster doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your meals. It just means making the most of your time so you can do more, for less. And that’s what being a smart Prime Mom is all about.