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17 Kitchen Cheat Sheets To Shorten Your Cooking Time

17 Kitchen Cheat Sheets To Shorten Your Cooking Time

1. For faster prep have a decent knife and know how to sharpen it

Nothing slows cooks down more than blunt knives that don’t cut well. They’re also unsafe. Learn to sharpen your knife by watching this youtube video and make sure it’s always ready for the task at hand. For advice on how to pick a knife, see Kitchen Knife Guru.

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    2. For faster cooking let someone else do the prep

    Chopping your own vegs for every dish is authentic, but it’s also slow. Why do all that work when you can buy it from the store pre-chopped? Most grocery stores carry a wide range of ready-to-use vegetables. Look at WholeFoods or Trader Joes or even order online. You will be surprised at the quality of the produce.

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        3. For a tasty kick keep frozen herbs in your freezer

        I love to have pre-packed herbs in my freezer. They can be popped into a stew, pasta sauce, or a soup. They’re not as flavorful as out-of-the-garden herbs, but they still taste great. Use about twice as much as you would with fresh herbs, and remember you can always make your own!

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          4. For faster pasta blanch and freeze

          Spaghetti cooks in 8 minutes, but the water takes time to boil. To save time pre-blanch your pasta for six minutes and then freeze on trays. When you’re ready to eat, reheat in the sauce and hey presto! According to stilltasty.com, frozen pasta has a 1-2 month use by date.

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            5. For quicker weeknight meals prepare and freeze on the weekend.

            If you have time on the weekend put it to good use by cooking large quantities of food and freezing individual or family sized portions. Pop them in the microwave and press go on a weeknight for a real meal. Try “24 Easy Freezer Recipes” from Southern Living or “17 best freezable recipes” from Cooking Light.

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              6. For easy salads use a jar.

              There is a growing movement for salads in a jar with dressing and components in layers. Just shake and serve. My favorite salad site is “30 Mason Jar Recipes: A Month Worth of “Salad in a Jar” from Zina at LassotheMoon.com.

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                7. For sophisticated satisfaction jazz up a grilled cheese

                There are so many options for the grilled cheese. Like pickles? Slide them in! The Food Network has 50 ideas that will lift good to great.

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                  8. For great canned soup add some extras

                  Canned soup isn’t always great. In fact, sometimes it’s plain awful. Buy the best quality soup you can and then layer in flavor with hot sauce and other foods packed with umami like parmesan cheese. The right ingredients turn plain jane soup into something of note. Don’t forget to add a jazzed grilled cheese!

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                    9. For great steaks, try thinner cuts

                    While thick cuts of steak like sirloins and filet need time to cook and rest, the thinner cuts cook in a snap and take a marinade very nicely. Martha Steward has an excellent recipe for so called “hangar steak” that I love, or look at this YouTube video where chef Jackson Lamb shows how to pan sear thin steaks.

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                      10. For a quick carb fix, microwave a russet potato

                      If you have a humble potato and a microwave then you’re in luck. An average size potato takes around 5 minutes to cook to a fluffy tender inside. The toppings are only limited by your imagination and your fridge. I like sour cream, cheese, broccoli slaw, and a little thousand island dressing.

                      In this post Bon Appetit shows us “12 creative ways to top a baked potato” that will make your mouth water.

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                        11. For a fruit explosion make a smoothy out of frozen fruit.

                        Smoothies are nourishing and easy to make. Take some of your favorite fruit and yoghurt and blend until it’s the way you like it. You can add spices like cinnamon, sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup and even a dollop of ice cream.

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                        If you are more interested in the health benefits of smoothies take a look at Prevention Magazine’s list of the  top 20 super smoothies.

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                          12. For a brilliant breakfast presoak your oatmeal and fruit

                          Instant oatmeal tastes like cardboard, but the real thing takes a long time to cook. Save yourself the work by pre-soaking your oatmeal over night and blitz it in the microwave the next morning. Self Magazine has a list of 18 delicious add-ins that are healthy and taste good.

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                            13. For radiant rice presoak and use the absorption method

                            White rice cooks quickly, but heathy brown rice can be slow. Pre-soak your brown rice over night with whey or an acid to get a more tender and digestible product. Tip Hero suggests these 33 cheap ways to spice up the results.

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                              14. For a captivating chicken dinner try these rotisserie tips

                              The humble rotisserie chicken can make so many great meals. Try Christine Skopec’s site for great recipes like “Speedy Enchiladas”, and “Herbed Chicken salad sandwiches”.

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                                15. For a quick chocolate fix use your microwave

                                When my wife showed me this neat trick for how to make a brownie in a mug I was stunned. Lana shows all the details in this YouTube video. If you add ice cream or powdered sugar it’s truly spectacular.

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                                  16. For a quick desert try old-school ice cream sundaes

                                  Ice-cream sundaes have been around for many years, but Delish has kicked it up a few notches with their “7 spectacular ice-cream Sundaes” that may melt your mind.

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                                    17. For a late night snack try an omelet

                                    Omelets were known to the Romans and Greeks two thousand years ago, yet they remain a staple for the late night snack. Eating Well published 50 Inspiring Omelet fillings to get you started.

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                                      Source: pixabay.

                                      Featured photo credit: flickr via c2.staticflickr.com

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                                      Colin Rhodes

                                      Chief Technology Officer

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                                      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

                                      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

                                      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

                                      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

                                      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

                                      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

                                      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

                                      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

                                      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

                                      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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                                      • (1) Research
                                      • (2) Deciding the topic
                                      • (3) Creating the outline
                                      • (4) Drafting the content
                                      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
                                      • (6) Revision
                                      • (7) etc.

                                      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

                                      2. Change Your Environment

                                      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

                                      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

                                      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

                                      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

                                      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

                                      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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                                      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

                                      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

                                      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

                                      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

                                      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

                                      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

                                      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

                                      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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                                      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

                                      6. Get a Buddy

                                      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

                                      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

                                      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

                                      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

                                      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

                                      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

                                      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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                                      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

                                      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

                                      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

                                      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

                                      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

                                      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

                                      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

                                      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

                                      Reality check:

                                      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

                                      More About Procrastination

                                      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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