Kitchen Tips for Busy People

Over the years of cooking at home, I have developed short cuts and kitchen tips to save time and effort while cooking. It has helped to bring homemade dishes to the table even in the busy times! 😊 I would like these kitchen tips to help you too!

Hacks to Save Time in the Kitchen

Times are changing and I hope all do pitch in to help run your busy house. Follow these easy hacks to save some precious minutes that you can use in other ways.

A busy scene with wife on the computer, eating cereal while talking to her daughter, a toddler at her feet, and the husband talking on the phone as he is mixing something in a bowl
It will be OK! You will get through 🙂

So here are my pet kitchen tips and recommendations.

1. Stock up on frozen vegetables.

A resealable pouch with peas, from the freezer
Frozen peas are handy when sudden guests arrive

Have a stock of shelled peas and sweet corn niblets in the freezer for adding to vegetables, pulao, etc. Having them ready to use is a big boon, especially when you need to whip up stuff in a hurry.

Obviously, the fresh varieties are better for health, but this tip is invaluable on days when unexpected guests arrive or you have important work and cannot be bothered cutting vegetables before that.😜

2. Prepare some must-haves for quick cooking.

This tip is arguably the most important one for busy people. You will only need a few of these, depending on what you plan to make over the week. Choose and make those—and see your daily cooking routine turn quick and stress-free.😎 Trust me on this one.

A spoonful from a  bottle of tomato paste
Fresh tomato paste can be stocked for a week in the fridge
  • Allot time to grind/cook up some useful preparatory ingredients every week. Ginger-garlic paste, pasta sauce, tomato puree, tamarind-dates chutney and green coriander-mint paste are all simple to make and keep long when stored in the fridge in the cold zone. Homemade pastes are economical, tasty, free from additives (I call that a plus plus) and will also reduce the cooking time significantly.
  • A plastic pouch full of gravy cubes or stock cubes in the freezer can have you waltzing out of the kitchen in no time with a healthy dish simmering and ready in 15 minutes.
  • Store some grated coconut in the freezer to add a special touch to something like porial, pancake or to rustle up some quick surul appams.
  • A collection of stir fry sauces, soya sauce, soup cubes, etc in the pantry can add taste and variety to your food.

3. Save effort on post-frying clean up.

I used to sweat over the annoyingly hard task of cleaning up splatters of oil from the counter, stove top, tiles behind the stove. These are places that normally get splashed with oil when you fry fish, pakoras, fritters or anything at all.

And then I learnt this kitchen tip from my Aunt—smear dishwashing solution before you set up the oil for deep frying! So or anything that normally gets splashed with oil in your kitchen should be coated with a thin layer of soapy water. It will dry soon.

Now even if the oil splatters on these areas, you can rest assured that it will be easy to clean. Just wipe off with a clean cloth or a tissue.

4. Keep homemade salad dressing and curd/yoghurt handy.

  • If you have your flavor-rich salad dressing ready, you are half-way through your salad preparation. I always have my vinaigrette ready for our family favourite, the Cold Pasta Salad. Hung curd/ yoghurt dressing with sprouts and capsicum is unexpectedly refreshing, filling and delicious.  Try to make and keep at least one of these in the fridge.
  • Set fresh curd (yoghurt) and stock it in the fridge for your morning cereal or for whipping up mouth-watering smoothies in a jiffy.

5. Presoak your pulses and dry beans

Some Kabuli Channa and Rakma that have been soaked overnight and are now ready to be cooked
Soaking Channa and Rajma reduces the cooking time significantly

Always soak dried beans and pulses for a few hours before cooking them. This reduces the cooking time and ensures you save fuel. Also, the texture of the cooked product is enhanced because of the complete cooking. It is advisable to soak larger beans like rajma (kidney beans) and kabuli channa (chick peas) overnight. Split daals can be soaked for an hour or so.

6. Learn to use the pressure cooker.

Meat in a pressure cooker will cook 30% faster. So this kitchen tip will save both time and fuel.
Meat will cook in a jiffy in the pressure cooker

If you have less time to finish your cooking, your best friend is the pressure cooker. This is not merely a kitchen tip, it s a game changer! It can reduce the cooking time by 30% and saves up to 50 % fuel. All meats, potatoes, rajma, chole, etc. can be cooked quickly if you use this device.

7. Roast your rava/sooji/semolina

An extremely versatile and healthy ingredient for a busy person is the rava/ sooji/ semolina. I buy it in half kg packs. You have a whole list of things you can make for a nutritious breakfast with this. If you want to optimise the cooking time further and also improve the taste, always roast it in advance.

  • Heat a thick-bottomed pan (like your kadhai or your cast iron skillet) on low fire.
  • When it is hot, pour your fresh packet of rava/sooji/semolina into it.
  • Roast it, stirring occasionally. Continue on very low heat, till a good aroma comes out.
  • Cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight box.

Since it is pre-roasted, it will take lesser time to cook.

There is a bonus to this process. Nothing is more annoying than to plan a quick upma or a pampering kesari and find that you cannot make it because the rava/semolina/sooji has little bugs in it! Rest assured, roasting prevents this too.

8. Keep two kinds of vinegar

Vinegar is often called for in your recipes, say for making fried rice or salads. For these, purchase a good brand of apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar. It will bump up the taste and nutritive quotient.

Vinegar is also used for other purposes around the house. For all other uses of vinegar in the kitchen, including cleaning, adding to curdle milk, making a vinegar and water wash, etc, use synthetic vinegar. This is because it will be much more economical to do so. Why spend 6 times the cost for non-food uses?

9. Use smaller containers for daily use ingredients

Many kitchen materials ( like coffee, health drinks, sugar, etc) are bought in larger quantities, especially if it is more economical or if you have a larger family. But you require only a small quantity every day.

This kitchen tip shows how small containers of sugar and coffee will keep your bigger containers safe
Smaller containers for daily use prevents wastage and is convenient

It is, therefore, best to avoid handling large containers full of them. We may possibly reduce its value by repeated opening and closing of the box. It can get contaminated and lose flavor too. In addition, coffee powder/ health drinks powders tend to harden, especially in moist, humid conditions. To avoid this,

  • Don’t open the main jar every day. Instead, put a smaller quantity for daily use in a smaller air tight container.
  • Use only a dry spoon.
  • Dry your hands completely before opening the jar.
  • If you get refill packs, pour it into a dry, airtight container as soon as you open it.

10. Have a fixed, dry spot in the kitchen for your cell phone.

I set this up in my kitchen after I lost my phone, to finally find it in the fridge!! 😅 All busy people will find life easier if they use this tip.

A kitchen tip is to place your cell phone securely in a constant, safe spot while you cook
Choose a safe spot for your cell phone in the kitchen

While it is not advisable to use the phone while cooking, you do have to keep the phone with you if you are expecting an important call. To avoid losing it, damaging it or transferring germs (ugh! Do you know how many little bugs are on your phone?!!), have a fixed spot for it. Always place it there.

In conclusion

So these were my favourite kitchen tips that have saved me time, effort and also money. Which ones did you like? I would also love to learn your kitchen tips. Do share in the comments.

 

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