Eight Tips to Get You Cooking Smarter and Faster Right Now
When you want dinner and you want it now, these time-saving hacks can help you get a meal on the table fast.
Sun Basket's test kitchen team weighs in with their favorite fast cooking tips.
1. Challenge yourself
“Challenge yourself to multitask and see if you can cook more than one thing at a time,” says editorial director of recipes, Emily Kaiser Thelin. “Don't sweat it if you don't feel up to following our "while this cooks, do this" suggestions, but you might be surprised the things you can accomplish while the water boils and the sauce simmers.”
2. Clean as you go
“Don't stack plates and utensils in the sink only to leave a pile for washing at the end of the meal (or the morning after),” says senior test kitchen coordinator Amy Offen-Reeves. “Have your dishwasher open and ready to load. Rinse everything immediately and then drop it straight into the open dishwasher. By the time the meal is over, your sink is empty.”
3. Go in hot
“The first thing I do when I’m ready to cook, is put my cast-iron pan on the stove over low heat,” says sous chef and food stylist Ali Ramee. “Starting in a hot pan cuts down on cooking time and ensures that dinner gets off to a sizzling start."
4. Have fun
“Unless you're in a hurry to feed a hangry hoard, take a minute to enjoy the process,” says deputy editorial director of recipes Teresa Karolewicz. “Put on some tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine, and have fun cooking dinner. It can be just as enjoyable to make something with your own hands as it is to sit down and eat it.”
5. Invest in a few good tools
“Mincing garlic and ginger or chopping onions by hand can take a lot of time,” says executive sous chef Jeremy Armstrong. “Using a Microplane to grate garlic and ginger and a box grater for onions are great time-savers.”
6. Pay attention to the process
“A 20-minute recipe offers 20 minutes of useful information you can apply to future cooking,” says executive R&D chef Alan Li. “Pay attention to what happens to vegetables as you cut, season, and cook them. Observe what happens to each ingredient in the pan and how they react to heat, water, oil, and salt. The more you learn each time you cook, the quicker everything becomes overall.”
7. Read the entire recipe first and plan accordingly
“I can’t stress this enough: reading the recipe first means you can figure out where the work needs to be done, like at the cutting board, on the stove, etc., and you can try to minimize your movement by getting as much done as possible at each 'station' before moving on,” says executive chef Justine Kelly. “Our recipes usually instruct you to prep some of the ingredients while others are cooking, but getting all of your vegetables ready first and focusing solely on the stove lets you pay more attention to the process itself.”
8. Start clean
“Take five minutes every morning to empty your dishwasher and clean your breakfast dishes,” says R&D sous chef Kate Langheim. "Starting with a clean kitchen sets you up for success, so that when you come home from work, you can get straight to cooking.”