Last update: 18/03/2021
Hello Zen Organizers,
I hope you're doing well!
This week, I thought I'd give you some extra tips to be more efficient in the kitchen, so you can eat healthily without spending too much time cooking.
If you still haven't listened to the podcast episode, in which I share my easy 3-step method to be more organized and efficient in the kitchen, I suggest you do so! You can find it on the blog or the major podcast platforms (Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Deezer, Stitcher, Podcast Addict, TuneIn, Amazon Music, Listen Notes, Pocket Casts). You can also find it on the apps Overcast, Castro, Cast Box.
Basically, the three steps are to create a meal list, plan your meals and do a batch-cooking or meal prep session once a week. This method has really helped me cut down drastically the time I spend cooking, so I highly recommend giving it a try!
But in this article, I want to give you more hands-on tips that you can use right away without needing too much organization behind. Although, I insist that having a good organization will help you be way more efficient in the long run!
1. Always have some healthy but quick food staples on hand.
Here are some examples of such staples:
proteins: frozen vegetarian burgers, cheese, eggs, chickpea flour
grains: couscous, instant polenta, bread
vegetables: frozen peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes
These are all items ready in no time and come in very handy for those busy days where you don’t have time to cook. You can easily mix and match them together if you're in a hurry, or mix them with other less quick staples if you have a bit more time.
For example, you can make a spinach omelet and eat it with bread. You can make polenta with cheese in it and an arugula salad as a side dish. With the cucumber, the tomatoes and couscous, you can make tabouleh.
2. Learn food combinations.
It will help you “create” your own meals with very few ingredients. It'll also help you vary your meals and be more creative. The more you hone this knowledge, the easier it'll become to put together meals with what you already have.
I love the book The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It describes the best combinations for a hundred common food staples. I use it when I lack inspiration or have few ingredients left in my fridge and don't know what to do with them!
3. Use your freezer!
Whenever you have time to cook a large batch of something, freeze a few portions. This way, the day you're too busy to cook, you already have a delicious and healthy meal ready that only needs reheating. My favourite meals to freeze are vegetarian chilli, soup, and spaghetti sauce.
I also like to freeze vegetables like squash, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchinis. They freeze very well, and they come in handy when I don't have time to prepare them from scratch.
4. Memorize a few recipes.
If you know a few recipes by heart, you'll gain a lot of time while cooking.
I don't know about you, but whenever I follow a recipe, I'm always going back to it, reading it over and over to make sure I don't miss any ingredient or skip any step. It always makes me lose a lot of useless time.
I'm not saying you should know all the recipes you make by heart. But try to learn a few (you'll see, the more you make them, the more you'll remember them). And even if you need to double-check the quantities or quickly verify the step order, it's not a problem! You'll still lose less time this way.
5. Have the right tools.
I consider myself a minimalist, and I try to avoid buying too many things. So, I don't think you need many appliances or gadgets to be efficient in the kitchen. For example, I don't have a microwave, a dishwasher, an electric kettle, a toaster, etc.
However, I do believe you need a good chef's knife and a paring knife. And make sure you keep'em sharp! I swear: a good and sharp knife makes a big difference in the energy and time needed to cut things! So I don't hesitate to buy quality knives (no need to spend hundreds of euros either! I bought mine for 29€, for example).
As for appliances, I don't have many. I have a food processor that also works as a blender, and I have an immersion blender. I use my food processor for many things like spreads and sauces and chopping nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, etc. Some of my favourite recipes are almost very difficult to make without it, so it's totally worth it for me. Plus, it helps me save time on ingredient preparation when I do meal prep or batch cooking. But it's not at all necessary to have a food processor.
As for the immersion blender, I find it more useful than a regular blender for meals like soups and other hot meals. But here again, it's not an absolute necessity. Having a blender, or an immersion blender, comes in very handy, so I would suggest having one or the other.
Finally, if you eat a lot of dry legumes, I find that a pressure cooker reduces the cooking time by about half (mine is not electrical, so I don't know how effective are the electrical ones). It might be a useful item to buy if, like me, you eat legumes daily!
*BONUS TIP TO EAT MORE VARIED*
6. Try new recipes!
This tip is pretty obvious, but to eat more varied, you have to try new recipes. If you are not accustomed to trying new recipes or feel insecure about it, start with easy recipes such as salads or soups. Don’t start with complicated dishes like soufflés or recipes that have numerous steps and require weird ingredients. Start simple.
The more you’ll cook, the more confident you’ll get, and the better you’ll become. It takes practice - and mistakes, a lot of them! - to become good at anything. So, don’t beat yourself if you burn things or make disgusting dishes. Even great chefs went through this!
To be constant, I recommend setting a precise goal. Maybe you want to try one new recipe every month, every two weeks, or even every week. Decide based on what’s feasible for you… and then do it!
And don’t forget to add the new recipes your family liked to your list of meals! In time, it will grow, and you will have a wider variety of recipes from which to choose.
Also, if you want to put into place an easy 3-step method to spend less time cooking every week, download this free workbook:
I hope these tips will help you become more efficient in the kitchen!
I wish you a zenly organized week,