If you enjoy cooking but can’t bear how long each meal takes, this post is here to help you become a faster and more efficient cook. Whether you are cooking at home or trying to build some speed in a professional kitchen, these seven tips for efficient cooking will save you big time.
This post has seven tips below to make you a more efficient cook.
1. Clean As You Go
I’m sure you have heard this one before. It not only helps cut down cleaning time after you eat; if you clean and work clean you will see that your cooking time become shorter. In a way you are not working against or around your own mess, which gives you the opportunity to have your full attention targeted towards the cooking task at hand. See the picture examples below and ask yourself which environment looks easier to cook in. Remember this next time you’re making a meal and your workstation starts to become cluttered.
Use the few tips below to keep your station mess and clutter free.
- Remove empty containers, bowls, or cups
- Remove or wash utensils not in use
- Have a clean damp cloth near your workstation dedicated to wiping down between cooking tasks
2. Sharp Knives
Your number one tool when working in the kitchen is going to be your chef’s knife. If you don’t have a good quality knife read this post to get equipped with a quality chef’s knife. Once you have a quality knife you are one step closer to becoming an efficient cook. Keeping your number one tool sharp will help with your speed in the kitchen immensely. Most of the work stems from preparing all the ingredients so when you have a sharp knife you can cut your prep time in half.
Read this post to learn how to properly care for your knives to ensure they stay sharp.
3. Mise En Place For Efficient Cooking
Mise en place literally translates to everything in place. What this means in terms of cooking and efficiency is gathering all your ingredients and preparing them for cooking before you start really cooking. For example, if you have a recipe for fried rice that calls for garlic, carrots, celery, onion, rice, and soy sauce, to have your mise en place you will first gather these ingredients, then you will prepare all of them. This means mince the garlic, chop the onion, dice the carrots, peel and dice the celery, wash the rice, and then measure the soy sauce. Once all those items are prepared you are ready to execute the fried rice quickly and with ease.
4. Read The Recipe Twice
If you are working on a recipe read it (at least) twice before you start cooking. This goes hand in hand with Tip #3. Although a recipe acts as a guide to what you’re making you need to have your own game plan as well. Reading the recipe twice better prepares you for making this game plan. It gives you an opportunity to know what your mise en place is and how to prepare it quickly. Having the recipe in your head will help you save time once you start executing the recipe. You will not have to stop after each step to reread the recipe and you can just go right into the next steps. This is going to have you cooking at a professional speed.
5. Learn Common Techniques
Often times recipes will use cooking techniques that are repeated in many different recipes. Learning these commonly used cooking techniques will help you in the long run to save time in the kitchen. See the list below and video attachments to learn useful cooking techniques that are commonly used in recipes.
6. Learn and Practice Knife Cuts
Even if you have sharp knives like suggested in Tip #2 that will only get you so far so fast. Learning common knife cuts and practicing them will help you move quicker in the kitchen and cut down on meal preparation time. If you are a home cook looking to make dinner time faster, you can focus on production cuts which will be the knife cuts I list below in a rough form because you don’t need perfect shaped squares to make a family dinner. If you are working your way up in a professional kitchen you will want to practice like you play and learn knife cuts as precision cuts. Learning and practicing these cuts will have you better equipped for cooking more recipes with expert speed.
Knife Cuts To Practice For Efficient Cooking
- Large Dice
- Small Dice
- Slicing Onions
Watch this video to practice the knife cuts above.
7. Using The Right Equipment
As far as preparation goes you can do most of it with a quality chef’s knife. Mincing garlic, chopping vegetables, preparing fish and meat. Once you learn to do all the preparation with your one tool you will be moving quicker in the kitchen and have less clean-up time. Using the right tools and equipment goes further into the cooking process than just preparing your mise en place. When you are cooking use the correct size pan. This can be a huge time saver. For example, if you are caramelizing onions and your pan is too small to fit all the onions evenly on the bottom of the pan that could double the time it takes to caramelize them. This situational awareness goes along with Tip #4 read your recipe twice. This way you know what’s coming. If you know your recipe requires a pan with a lid avoid starting your food in a pan that doesn’t have a corresponding lid. While you are rereading your recipes really be thinking about what you will need in terms of ingredients and tools and equipment, so you are ready to cook in an organized and efficient way.
With these seven tips you are fully prepared to start cooking at double the speed. While some of the tips will take a little practice the other ones, like having sharp knives and using the correct tools, are something you can start right away. The number one way to start cooking more efficiently is to keep cooking and keep practicing.