I often get asked how I determine how much time it takes to cook a recipe. Normally, when someone asks this, they take longer on most recipes and want to know why. Here are a few tips and tricks I use to streamline my time in the kitchen.
1. Label Everything
If you don’t have to stand around trying to figure out which package of frozen meat blobs is the right cut, you waste less time. Ditto for the identical looking white powder line-up: tapioca flour, baking soda, baking powder, potato starch, arrowroot starch and xanthan gum. No, you really won’t remember what that mystery blob is six months from now. Label and date everything.
2. Group like items together
I have a baking center set up in my kitchen. An adjustable tablespoon and teaspoon measuring spoon is inside the cabinet with large, labeled containers of baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, gelatin, cocoa powder and the like. I can just click my measuring spoon to the right spot, scoop and dump, put the lid back on and move to the next thing.
3. Open shelving is quicker
On a baker’s rack in my kitchen sits a bunch of quart-size mason jars. All of these labeled jars hold my often-used but shelf-stable supplies such as starches, sugars, coconut flour, pasta, rapadura and beans. I can find what I need in one glance and lift it straight out instead of having to shuffle everything around to reach the one jar in the back. My herbal teas and most often used items, such as rice, are stored in half-gallon jars on the shelf below, again with enough room to lift the jars out instead of needing to shuffle.
4. Have your spices available at a glance
All of my spices are on a slanted spice rack, single-file, in a custom-built holder attached under my kitchen cabinet. They’re in an out of the way spot, but I can find any spice I need at a glace because they all have labels on their lids and are alphabetical. They are directly above my work area, so I don’t have to step away to fish what I need out of a cabinet. Look for pictures and directions of how to build one for your own kitchen in a post next week.
5. Baskets organize everything else by group
Because my extracts are liquid, I don’t want them suspended, at an angle, above my work area. They are all in a small basket on a shelf. Beside it sits another basket with my small, odd, rarely used spices that don’t fit in my spice rack. Beside that is a small basket of my different stevia products. On a wire shelf above that is a basket of my odds and ends measuring spoons that rarely get used thanks to my adjustable measuring spoons. Beside that is a basket of rarely used cooking supplies, like muffin tin liners and kitchen twine. Beside that is a basket with my measuring cups. Inside the cabinet door on removable hooks hangs my smidge, dash and pinch measuring spoons (used with stevia), my nutmeg grater and my flat, mini cheese grater. Everything has a place and everything is in its place for easy access.
6. If you must stack, stack only like with like
I really try to avoid stacking non-matched items together. This is especially true for appliances such as your crock-pot and glass baking pans, which inevitably wind up sprawled out on the floor when you try to move them to reach something underneath. The less time you have to spend wrangling something out of the cabinet, the less time you waste in the kitchen. I’ve found that when I downsize and get rid of the extras, with the exception of bowls, I never miss them. If you’re having a big batch cooking session, chances are your friends who are cooking with you have a 9×13 or two they can bring with them. I bought a large set of stainless-steel, nested bowls and the problem was solved.
Streamlining your kitchen and investing in some basic organizational supplies is critical to cutting down on the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. What are your favorite tips for spending less time in the kitchen?
KerryAnn Foster runs Cooking Traditional Foods, the longest running Traditional Foods Menu Mailer on the internet. KerryAnn has over nine years of traditional foods experience and is a former Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader. Founded in 2005, CTF helps you feed your family nourishing foods they will love. Each mailer contains one soup, five dinners, one breakfast, on dessert and extras. You can learn more about our Menu Mailers at the CTF website. For a free sample Menu Mailer, join our mailing list. You can also join our forum to chat with other traditional foodists and learn more.