A most unusual holiday season is underway. Though things may look and feel different this year, you can still count on there being plenty of good food, which means lots of grocery shopping and lots of time in the kitchen. Stock up on Longève for effortless meatless meals and check out these 10 tips for ways to make cooking more efficient and more fun this year.
Keep things interesting and achievable by planning out your weekly menus in advance. Pick a couple of new recipes to mix in with old standbys over the course of the week, and shop for the bulk of your ingredients ahead of time. That way you’ll have a game plan and have what you need at the ready.
In order to work smarter and faster, it helps to understand the process first. Read the entire recipe through before starting – this simple step will give you the big picture and help prevent avoidable (and costly) mistakes along the way.
Keep your kitchen clean, and your pantry and cupboards tidy. This will cut down on valuable cooking time by eliminating the need to de-clutter and search for lost ingredients before starting.
“I really want to wash a sink full of dishes and a stack of dirty pots and pans after dinner,” said nobody, ever. Keeping up with the dirty dishes during cooking means you’ll have less to do after the meal and more time to enjoy.
Don’t waste time and money on fancy kitchen gadgets (see above re: clutter). A sharp knife and a few inexpensive utensils will take care of most key tasks, which means less time washing extraneous tools. My top three essentials are: a heat-proof rubber spatula for scraping out the contents of mixing bowls and blenders, a flat-bottomed wooden spatula for stirring foods in non-stick pans and a microplane for easy processing of garlic and ginger (without the chopping).
Making creative and convenient substitutions not only makes cooking fun, it’s also more economical and less wasteful. Use the recipe as a guide, but feel free to sub things out with what you’ve got. Many a great dish has been born of a happy accident, simply because the cook had to improvise when short an ingredient.
Taking the time to prep dinner ingredients on the weekend, the night before, or even the morning of, makes the actual cooking process that much quicker and less daunting. Things you can do in advance: wash and cut veggies, soak beans or grains, measure out spices or other dry ingredients, make salad dressings and sauces.
Cooked veggies, beans, grains and pasta make excellent meal starters. From quick soups to ready-to-bake casseroles or even a breakfast frittata, using your leftovers creatively can save you valuable time and money.
Onion skins, celery hearts, carrot peels and mushroom stems… these oft-discarded veggie trimmings can live on in the form of veggie stock. Keep a zip-top plastic bag in the freezer to collect the scraps. Once filled, you’ll have the makings of a flavorful stock with minimal effort. Just dump the contents into a pot, top with water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste, strain the scraps and the stock is ready to use or freeze for another day
Now that you’ve set yourself up for success, slow down and enjoy the process. Mindful cooking is a form of self-care and an act of love – and it can also be a whole lot of fun. So, crank some tunes, dance around your kitchen, and let loose. Tap in to your creativity and see where it takes you. You’ll be nourishing your body and soul, which goes a long way towards keeping you and your loved ones happy and healthy.