I’ve seen other people’s top tips for speedier cooking and I often don’t agree with them. Suggestions like buying ready cooked rice or keeping the fast food vegetarian don’t seem like great ideas to me. If you want quick rice, then make a bigger batch when you do have time and freeze it in portions; these can subsequently be defrosted and heated in a couple of minutes. And there’s no reason I can see why vegetarian food should necessarily be quicker to cook than meat or fish.
Here are my tips for speeding up your cooking or food preparation.
1. Put the kettle on. A lot of dishes require boiling water, and even if they don’t you can always use it for a cup of tea or something.
2. Get the kitchen set up with your essential kit – boards, knives, colander and all the tools you need. Also get a bowl on the work-top for waste so you don’t have to keep chucking things in the bin. Some people recommend getting all your ingredients together first too, but I think that can waste time (depending on your kitchen layout and whether you have everything close to hand anyway). My kitchen is so small that I can grab everything as required quickly after I’ve started cooking.
3. Use the right tools for the job. Using the wrong kit not only takes more time and makes the task less pleasant – it can also be dangerous, for example, to use the wrong knife for the job.
4. Multi-task! This is probably the most important aspect of speeding up your cooking. It is slooooow, sloooow, sloooow to do only one thing at a time or to stand like a dummy in the kitchen for three minutes gawping at something going round in the microwave. While you’re waiting for something to happen, do something else! If you’ve got the potatoes on the boil, start on something else. Think ahead. Keep going. Learn how to talk and work at the same time. You’d be amazed how many people stop cooking just because they’ve started talking.
5. Practise! Maybe you’ll be a bit slow to start with, but with practice and experience you should be able to speed up a bit. Cooking isn’t meant to be a race but you can get a lot of satisfaction from doing things quickly and efficiently. Learn knife skills and other techniques. Please see my knife skills series (which I really must get around to adding more to one of these days).
There other things you can do to speed up your cooking or prep, but for me the above five are the very basics. Not needing to look at recipes or measure things is a big help too, but that all comes with practice. Once you get up to speed you might find it’s fun to race against the clock. I had a go at trying to beat Ainsley Harriott’s suggested time for bacon, potato and crab chowder. Easy peasy, and on the table in less time than he suggested. Have fun!
PS: If you need some new kitchen essentials, please check out my new Amazon Cook Shops for hundreds of really good products.
Not Delia’s Amazon Cook Shop: UK and EU (prices in £)
Not Delia’s Amazon Cook Shop: Non-EU (prices in US$)