Everyone seems to be in a rush these days, relying on caffeinated coffee and sodas just to keep going. We have to go here and there, pick up the kids, drop off the kids, go to meetings, meat friends, walk the dog, do the kitty litter, do the laundry, get caught up on the news, and a oh yes – let’s not forget we have to cook too.
Here is some good news. Learning to structure our time and space in the kitchen with a few practical tips, life in the kitchen can be relaxing, less hurried and more enjoyable for everyone.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Use appliances to do your mixing and chopping.
Many cookbooks will mention how long it takes to make a recipe. What is particularly helpful is when the author indicates how much of that time is prep work. This is a great feature because many times the prep work such as chopping, slicing, sautéing, etc. can take a considerable amount of time in and of itself.
One of the ways to get around this, especially when a recipe calls for a lot of chopping, is to use a food processor, or mixer depending on the need. There are various types of blenders and it is important to purchase one which is suitable for your needs. There are many popular styles such as the KitchenAid mixer, or Cuisinart mixers which offers chopping and dough mixing settings.
2. Clean while you cook.
One of the greatest time saving tips doesn’t even have to cost you a penny. Use the times when something is baking, cooking, or sautéing to clean up your area. This can include cleaning pots and pans, or simply cleaning the countertop – such as removing any scraps of food.
The more you practice this while cooking you will reduce the cleanup time at the end of the meal. This allows you to finish eating and move on quickly to your next activity, or sit back and relax while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
3. Grow indoor herbs.
Learning to grow culinary herbs indoors is not for everyone, as it will require space and maintenance. However, it is a convenient time saver when cooking a recipe to reach over and snip some fresh herbs to toss in.
Indoor herbs not only help keep your recipes bright and fresh during off-season months, they also add bright foliage to your kitchen decor. Adding a little bit of greenery to your kitchen can help lift moods, and create a warmer atmosphere.
4. Use a recipe box.
It can be hard to keep a recipe box updated with favorite recipes when strapped for time. After all, stopping to rewrite a recipe from a cookbook onto an index card is not always the most pleasing way to spend our free time.
However, one must think of its long-term implications. If a person can get in the habit of doing this every time they come across a good recipe, they will save themselves many headaches in the future when wanting to easily refer back to that recipe – yet cannot remember which cookbook it came from.
By categorizing your favorite recipes in one location like a recipe box, it becomes easy to find ideas simply by sifting through your list of favorites. This will not only save time, but many headaches as well.
5. A theme a day.
For those who are responsible for cooking each night, it can be rather taxing coming up with a new menu each week. However with a little organization and discipline, a person can relieve much of this stress.
Assign each day of the week to a particular theme or category. For example, Monday can be devoted to poultry, where the main dish consists of chicken.
Tuesday can be a meatless theme where the meal consists of mostly vegetables or even pasta. Pasta tossed with fresh vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini is always a good combination.
Don’t forget a leftover’s night, and of course you can always make Friday pizza night, whether you choose to order out, or make your own pizza at home. By the way, kids loves making homemade pizza dough!
Another fun idea is to have a special dessert every Sunday, or other day of the week. An example could be a homemade pie, or even homemade ice cream using a gelato maker. This is another fun activity to do at home with the kids.
6. Never wear white.
Lastly, this step is one of the most practical, which is never to wear white when working with any ingredient that can stain – such as an Italian pasta sauce. If for whatever reason you need to wear white, try using an apron to help protect your clothing. This is a simple tip, but has huge rewards.
In the end, it is safe to say, with a little preplanning and organization, life in the kitchen not only becomes easier, but can also be fun.
Contributor: Liz T. Krause is the owner of SimpleItalianCooking.com, a website devoted to Italian cooking recipes. She enjoys writing about Italian related topics and writes reviews for different products such as the Alessi 9090 espresso maker. She spends her free time in the kitchen and enjoys trying new recipes and making homemade espressos.