In today’s busy world, we all could use a few time-saving tips. And who better to give those practical tips than chefs? After all, chefs are the experts in preparing food efficiently and quickly.
Cooking can be less expensive and healthier than ordering takeout, but it’s not always an enormous time-saver. Between food preparation, cooking and cleaning up, you may spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This is especially true when you are having guests over. Many people are now enjoying the services of private chefs or hiring kitchen staff for an event, so they can focus more on the guests and activities.
Here are some time-saving tips from chefs to help you get the most out of your ingredients and reduce cooking time.
Organise your kitchen
You can’t stay efficient while cooking in a completely disorganised kitchen. You waste time searching for ingredients or looking for tools when you could easily avoid it by grouping items in a way where they make sense together. Have knives, cutting boards, measuring spoons, and prep bowls in one place. Having items you use together and items you frequently use close by, lessens the need to walk to another side of the kitchen.
Chefs have a practice called “mise en place”, which means “putting in place” or “gathering”. Simply put, it means having everything in place. Practically, it means gathering your ingredients and spices and placing them on the counter (if it’s safe) beforehand.
Stock your pantry
A well-stocked pantry can save time and can save recipes too! When you have your ingredients readily available, you don’t need to stop in the middle of your work to look for them. It also means that you don’t need to make an unnecessary substitution in the middle of cooking, which can be tricky if not intentional.
Keeping your pantry stocked is a habit that is worth keeping. You can build a stocked pantry by grabbing staples when you run to the market or grocery.
Things can quickly get overwhelming if you don’t have a workflow to follow.
- It can start as simple as reading your recipe thoroughly. When you know what to do, you can organise each task by how much time each task takes.
- Identify the task that takes the longest to make and start with that. For example, you can do tasks while marinating meat or preheating the oven or grill. Waiting times can still be busy times. If you are waiting for water to boil or thawing fish or meat, you can multitask by doing something while waiting. Always remember that to minimise unnecessary waiting.
- Wash your produce on the day you buy it so it will be clean and ready for use. Washing produce and waiting for it to dry can take time while cooking. Chefs clean their veggies first; they grab and slice when they cook. Yet be mindful of storing them properly to avoid early spoilage.
Parboiling is a technique that Chefs use to shave time off preparation. A food item is cooked until its intended doneness and then fully cooked later or at a different location. Read more about parboiling in this previous post and discover how it can help in speedy cooking.
Batch cooking is preparing to cook foods in bulk and storing them properly so they can be used throughout the week or within storage life. Good examples are pureed soups, stews or broths, which can be frozen till ready to use—or roasting some vegetables, which can then be used later as a primary or side dish. Because batch cooking is done to its ready-to-eat state or doneness, proper storage is critical. Don’t sacrifice food safety for speed in food preparation or cooking. Food needs to be stored in a way that its temperature is outside the range called Danger Zone, which is between 5°C to 60°C (40° F – 140° F). The danger zone is a temperature range where bacteria grow most rapidly, almost doubling after 20 minutes.
Use the right tools
If you need to prepare a large volume of food, you may have to cut up a lot of veggies, fruits and other ingredients. Make use of tools that can speed up food cutting. For example:
- Use food processors and mandolins or invest in a good knife set and keep them sharp.
- Use a rice steamer or rice cooker for cooking rice and other grains. They can cook rice quickly and with minimal supervision, giving you more time for other tasks. You’ll be surprised that rice cookers can do more than cook rice and grains.
Use pre-made food items
There is no shame in buying pre-made items to save time!
Most times, making food from scratch can be the better way since you control your ingredients. But pre-made food items can be a saving act when you want to save time and costs. Items such as boxed, canned or bottled broth can be a base for soups, dishes and sauces.
Tenderise before meat cooking
A large thick piece of meat can take a while to cook. The trick is to tenderise the meat fibres. You can use any solid item with weight to pound and tenderise a thick cut of meat, but ideally, a meat mallet will do the job wonderfully. It opens up the meat for faster cooking time.
Clean as you go
Cleaning as you go about your cooking is an often overlooked activity that should be a habit of everyone working in the kitchen, either commercially or at home.
When you break down tasks between some downtime or before tackling your next step, it prevents work from piling at the end, making cleaning less overwhelming.
Check out this previous post for more tips on how to clean as you go.
Time management in the kitchen is a saving grace for anyone who prepares food. The above tips are just some techniques to shave off time for other essential tasks. It is easy to tell someone to “multitask, ” but it will only be effective with practice and habit.
For events, a sure way to save time can be to hire chefs and kitchen staff to handle food planning, preparation, cooking, serving and even clean up.
And if you are based in Perth and Western Australia, give us a call at Anytime Staff for your staffing needs.
We have a roster of professional chefs and kitchen staff that are available as short-term hires for :
- peak periods
- events/private parties and celebrations/pizza chefs
- fill in for an emergency or annual leaves
- start-up team for opening venues
As part of our team, we have polite, professional Kitchen Stewards to assist you in cleaning and organising your kitchens.
Anytime Staff can also assist you in looking for permanent hires by facilitating your recruitment process.
We also offer a Consulting Service to assist you in opening or running the cafe or restaurant of your dreams.
That’s it for this week.
As always, professional staff are on call at Anytime Staff!
That’s it for this week.
As always, professional chefs are on call at Anytime Staff!
Ciao for now,