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20 Practical Tips From the Food Experts That Can Save Cooking Time

20 Practical Tips From the Food Experts That Can Save Cooking Time

Whether you’re a seasoned professional in the kitchen, or a newbie who’s looking for direction, there are always ways that can make your culinary ventures easier. Find out how you can spend less time slaving over the stove and more time enjoying your delicious creations.

1. Read recipes in advance

I know it can be tempting to dive right in, especially if you’re in a rush, but this is a serious mistake. Not having a good idea of what you need to do ahead of time can end up costing you more time later. Do you really want to double check ingredients quantities 10 times before eventually realizing that you forgot an entire step?

2. Buy a good set of knives

Knives can be an expensive investment, but they’re well worth it. Not only will they chop things more effectively, they’ll also help you to cut things up much faster. Make sure that you also take proper care of them by sharpening them regularly and not leaving them exposed inside drawers.

3. Prep everything in advance

Look at everything on your ingredients list and if there’s anything that can be chopped, peeled or blended ahead of time, do it. This will save loads of time when it comes to cooking, and will make the whole process less stressful in general. I particularly like doing this the night before I plan on slow cooking a meal because I want as many extra minutes of sleep in the morning as possible.

4. Don’t bother peeling everything

This saves on time and benefits your body because the best nutrients can be be found in vegetable skins.

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5. Save your leftovers

I don’t think I can describe this any better than Gio Bellino of Flavor Bombs:

“Get in the habit of freezing bits of meals! What I mean by that is saving small amounts of that fabulous gravy on your meatloaf, save the chicken fat you skim from your soup, save some of that bacon grease (especially the maple flavored mmmm), save some of that rub, marinade, herb blend. Saving small amounts of stuffing or vegetables will provide you with a savory mixture to either puree for a sauce or reuse as a breading. Having these elements in your freezer will make cooking future dishes a snap.”

6. Save your scraps

Don’t throw out those vegetable peels or meat cuttings, they can be incredibly useful! I like to freeze mine in order to make stock for soups, chili and stews. If you’re not a fan of making your own stock, save those peelings for the compost heap. Every little bit of recycling helps the planet!

7. Wash as you go

The absolute worst part of cooking is the washing up, so why make it harder on yourself? Avoid a huge pile of agony at the end of a meal by cleaning as you go. Your future self will thank you for it.

8. One pot meals for the win

Another way to save on washing up, and time, is by making one pot meals such as the aforementioned soups, chili and stews. They make life a lot easier and ingredients can often just be thrown in and left. You have to love low-maintenance meals!

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9. Slow cookers for a bigger win

If you’re looking for some additional convenience, invest in a slow cooker. There is really nothing better than coming home after a long day to the delicious smell of dinner that’s already done. Plus, slow cooked food tends to be so much more tender and flavorsome.

10. Use pressure cookers for the ultimate win

If you want the effects of a slow cooker but don’t want to wait all day, a pressure cooker is the answer. It does basically the same thing, but in an insanely short amount of time. There is a scientific explanation behind it, but I prefer to attribute it to magic.

11. Don’t bother browning

You may notice in most slow cooker recipes that they ask you to brown your meat beforehand. If you don’t have time for this step, I have some literal secret ingredients for you. Adding a little tomato and soy sauces will give your meat the same in-depth flavor. You’re welcome.

12. Use produce that’s in season

Sometimes it can be slightly inconvenient, but I always try to cook with seasonal produce. Not only is it cheaper, but it actually saves on time because I don’t have to work as hard to showcase the delicious natural flavors of the food.

13. Keep basics on hand

There’s nothing worse than realizing you don’t have the basic things necessary for a recipe you really want to cook. You can avoid this by making sure you always have a well-stocked cupboard. Some of my staples include:

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  • Herbs and spices (many of which I grow myself, which I highly recommend)
  • Asian basics such as peanut oil, chilli, garlic, kecap manis, fish sauce, coconut milk and a variety of curry pastes
  • Baking basics such as flour, sugar and eggs

Basically, I only really have to worry about buying produce and meat unless something needs restocking.

14. Give yourself space

This may sound like an odd addition, but there is a method to my madness. Having a cluttered and disorganized bench space will make things harder to find and thus increase your cooking time. Get neat and organized beforehand!

15. Cook in batches

Instead of cooking every night, cook big batches to freeze. If you have a few hours spare, cook a few different things. A freezer full of precooked meals makes life much easier and happier when you’re too tired to cook. It will also prevent you from opting for fast food when you have such a convenient choice already available.

16. Invest in decent pots and pans

Similar to knives, investing in good quality pots and pans can be expensive. However, they’re more than worth it. Not only will you produce better quality food, the cooking process will be a lot faster. This is mostly because they will heat up faster, be non-stick and cook your ingredients through evenly.

17. Utilize leftover hot water

This isn’t so much of a time saver as it is a water saver. Instead of tipping out boiled water, pour it over your sponges to kill off germs. Alternatively, wait for the water to cool and then use it on your garden.

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18. Time how long it takes to heat your oil

Knowing how long your individual pots, pans and wok heat oil means that during future cooks you can simply set a timer and throw your ingredients in once it goes off.

19. Roast beets whole

Why waste time peeling beets, and staining your hands, when there’s a far simpler way? Wrap them in some foil and place them directly in the oven. Once they’re done the skins will slide off easily.

20. Beat egg whites before yolks

If you have a recipe that calls for separated whites and yolks, beat the former first. This saves time because you won’t have to wash the beaters in between both jobs. You can’t beat yolks first because it can negatively effect the volume of the whites. However, a bit of whites in the yolk won’t make a difference.

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Tegan Jones

Commercial editor for global publications Gizmodo, Kotaku, Lifehacker & Business Insider.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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