Cooking is something we all need to do, and if you spend an hour cooking every day, that’s 15 days over a whole year you’ve spent working over the stove. Ordering food from McDonald’s or eating out is one way to combat this, but it can get expensive fast. A recent study found that 43% of the money Americans spend on food isn’t prepared by them. The more you can get this percentage down, the more you can save money. By using your time effectively, combined with a few hacks, you can have food on the table quickly and save both your time and your wallet.
Put salt in your water.
If you’re boiling anything, make sure to salt the water before putting your food in. This is especially true for pasta. Salting the water won’t only make your pasta taste delicious, but will also increase the boiling temperature of the water, effectively making it hotter. This will, in turn, cook your food faster and let you get to the table rather than spend extra time waiting around for your food to prepare. An additional tip is that if you’re cooking rice, try using stock rather than water to make it taste even better.
Spend more time on preparation.
This feels counterintuitive when you’re trying to be quick in the kitchen, but by preparing everything before you start, you’ll save time in total. The French have a name for this ‘mise en place’ which basically translates as having everything in place. This means preheating your oven, getting all your ingredients weighed out and ready before you start actually cooking.
Linking to the last hack, before you start cooking anything, make sure that your implement is hot. If you’re using the oven, make sure the first thing you do is to preheat it to the correct temperature. This will minimize cooking time. If you’re following a recipe, it will help avoid disappointment when your food isn’t ready after the stated 20 minutes because your oven was heating up for the first 10 minutes. Similarly, if you’re using a pan, make sure it’s hot before you put anything in it.
Use a recipe (and stick to it).
As a beginner chef, it can be easy to just ‘wing it’ and end up with something lackluster. Instead of wasting your time by guessing, find a recipe and follow it. It has been made by someone with more experience than you and saves more time as well! Use their expertise to your advantage and simply follow the instructions. You’ll end up with something delicious without any fear that you’ve put too much salt in it, or that it won’t be fully-cooked.
Get your meat to room temperature.
As a part of your preparation, taking your meat out before cooking it will mean that it will cook much faster and evenly than meat that has come straight out of the fridge.