You can save time in the kitchen and still eat well. These are some of the best products and tips I’ve collected over the years:
Get Everything Ready In Advance – This is so important that French cookbooks are full of the standard expression “Mise En Place” and if you don’t follow this advice you’re likely to wind up muttering native expressions far less polite. Keep on hand a regular stock of commonly used ingredients and read the whole recipe through beforehand. Wash, peel and chop up any vegetables needed. Measure dry ingredients and have the correct portions ready to add as you proceed.
Keep Counters Clean – Keeping your work space tidy will make the whole experience more pleasant and speed up cleaning time. Have a big bowl or plastic bag on hand into which you can dump garbage you create as you go along. Put spoons down on a plate instead of messing up the counter (having a small kitchen I’ve never really understood the point of having that separate object called a spoon rest.)
Cook Once, Eat Twice – Actually, make that cook once and eat at least twice. Make more than one serving and you can refrigerate the surplus that you’ll use quickly or freeze it for later use. I believe in the adage that freezing does not improve anything but things like lasagna and chili hold up well in the freezer.
Canned and Frozen Ingredients – I do not like the flavor of most canned and frozen ingredients but they are nutritionally sound. You can experiment to find the ones that are tolerable for you. For me, frozen corn and edamame work fine. And frozen juice concentrate is a quick way to add sweetness and flavor to many items from soup to salad dressing.
Condiments – Condiments are also a fast way to add flavor to many dishes. Some of my favorites are oyster sauce, chili bean or curry paste, salsa and mustards.
Blanching – For recipes that include slow cooking vegetable like cabbage and carrots, you can briefly cook them in boiling water to speed up cooking time. This works well for things like stir fries and soups.
Fast Bread – Before freezing, cut a loaf of bread into individual servings or cut bagels in half. They will defrost faster, warm up more evenly in the oven and be ready to serve faster.
Mezzaluna – A mezzaluna (half moon) is a curved blade with a handle on each end. It works great for everything from cutting pizza to chopping herbs to turning a stack of pitas into individual triangles almost instantly.
Pan Liners – I used to use parchment paper and tinfoil to keep baked goods from sticking and make cleaning up faster. Now, there are numerous non-disposable liners that can be wiped up and used over and over. So you can save time and not feel guilty about the environment.