The six-step guide you need to cook efficiently and save time in the kitchen!
The number one reason we hear for why people don’t cook meals at home is time. Either they don’t have time to meal prep or they can’t find the time to prepare their meals daily. We hear you and we want to help!
These simple tips and tricks will allow you to save time and cook efficiently. From setting up your workspace to grocery shopping hacks, we’ve got you covered from start to finish in seven simple steps.
How To Cook Efficiently and Save Time
You don’t need any special tools or education to cook efficiently and well, you just need a little bit of knowledge and practice. Follow these steps the next time you head to the grocery store so you can speed things up without sacrificing the quality of your finished product.
Step 1: Utilize The Grocery Store Salad Bar
Hear me out. When I say use the grocery store salad bar, I don’t mean that you should purchase a pre-made meal daily instead of cooking at home. What I do mean is to grab food items where the heavy lifting has already been done.
Take produce for example. If you know yourself, and you know that you always look at your produce and never take it out of the refrigerator because you don’t want to spend the time chopping and dicing things, stop buying full heads of broccoli and cantaloupes.
Instead of relying on your culinary ambition after a long day of work, purchase some of your fruits and vegetables pre-cut and packaged or from the salad bar.
Yes, this sometimes does mean paying a few extra dollars. But think about it, how much money are you really wasting when you’re constantly throwing out food that has gone bad?
Step 2: Clean As You Go
There is nothing worse, and I mean nothing than finishing a meal and having a tornado of a mess to clean up at the end. It’s exhausting, tiring and just plain miserable.
Instead, clean as you go! Put your dishes in the sink and put a little water in them so they don’t dry and stick. Even better, immediately rinse the dish and toss it in the dishwasher if you can. Quickly clean off the countertop while the food is cooking.
There’s a lot more downtime to cooking than many of us realize. If we use that downtime to clean as we go, we’re cooking in an efficient way and saving time.
Step 3: Prep Staple Ingredients
Having staples in the refrigerator cuts your daily prep time in half. When it comes to meal prepping, I often find it’s a love-hate relationship for most people. Yes, they love having everything prepped and ready come Monday morning, but they hate spending the time cooking on Sunday afternoon.
You can mend this relationship by only prepping the staples.
Say you know you’re going to have quinoa at least once or twice as a side at dinner time, and you love quinoa in your salads at work – prep a boatload of quinoa on Sunday afternoon or make it while you’re already cooking dinner Monday night.
Everyone’s different, create a schedule that works for you and your needs. The more you multitask and prep ahead of time, the more efficient you are which saves you time.
Step 4: Make Extra and Label Leftovers
This sounds silly, I know. But how many times have you had perfectly good leftovers that got pushed to the back of the refrigerator, never to be seen again…
If you label your leftovers and freeze, you’ll have an arsenal of easily-accessible food items ready to go when you really need them. Not only should you label your leftovers, but first and foremost create leftovers whenever you can!
Simply double the number of veggies you make on Tuesday night, then you have a full container’s worth to add to lunch the following day. You can save yourself so much time and energy by doubling vegetables, grains, and even protein.
Step 5: Use Sharp Knives
Dull knives are dangerous and slow. That first part sounds contradictory when people hear it for the first time but think about it. A dull knife doesn’t cut through food swiftly, it struggles a bit. When it struggles, you push a bit harder and strain a bit more, which all too often results in the knife slipping and causing an accident. Not exactly the most efficient method.
Just as we mentioned in the Knife Skills section of our Healthy Cooking Series, you want to sharpen your knives once or twice a year and replace your knives once they’ve run their course. This will allow you to work quickly and safely in the kitchen without having to worry about little slip-ups.
Step 6: Organize and Prepare Your Workspace
The organization is key in the kitchen. It’s true for your closet and it’s true for your desk, so why wouldn’t it be true for your cooking space?
Prepare your workspace and keep things readily accessible and easy to reach for. Set up your cutting board and pull out the knives you’ll need to use. If you have to open a cabinet every thirty seconds to grab something, chances are your arms are going to be pretty tired and you’re going to be over it very quickly.
Additionally, always keep your kitchenware in the same place. If you’re always moving things around, you’ll never know where to reach for anything. Giving items a designated location allows you to always know where to go so you can grab things in a flash.
As simple as some of these recommendations may appear to be if you implement them all together I promise you’ll be cooking more efficiently than you ever have in the past!
Saving a minute or two here and there adds up as the week goes on. Follow these steps the next time you’re heading to the grocery store or the kitchen to get yourself on the fast-track to efficient cooking.
Additionally, here are some of our favorite tools to help out you the next time you’re in the kitchen:
Recipes To Try
Now that you’ve got the basics of efficiency and saving time down pat, try out some of these great recipes to help build your confidence:
Connect With Us
Show us your cooking skills on Instagram!
The next time you make a delicious dish using your new efficiency skills, share it with us! You can show us by tagging us on Instagram with @nutritionstrippederica and @nutritionstripped or you can share it with the Nutrition Stripped community by tagging #nutritionstripped or #nswellnesscoaching.
We can’t wait to see what you come up with!