Cooking, especially for family and friends, can be a delightful experience. However it can also be very time-consuming to get everything together in time before everyone arrives.
Luckily, using some creative thinking, you can cut the time it takes to prepare a fresh, home-cooked meal, leaving you more time to get on with your busy schedule. Here are 8 time-saving cooking tips from your favourite caterers in Brisbane.
1. Use a Slow-Cooker
It may seem a bit backwards to be using a slow cooker to save time, since, by nature, they are slow, right? And indeed, they are! They take around six to eight hours to do their thing. You must be wondering “How on earth will this be able to save me time?”
Don’t fret! It’s simple, really. All you have to do is put everything in the slow cooker in the morning, go about your day as per usual, and be ready for an exquisite dinner when the cooking is done. A busy lifestyle is what the slow cooker was made for, according to its history, so it will be a perfect addition to your home if you just don’t have the time to prepare in the hours before dinner.
2. Try Precooked
You don’t have to feel ashamed to head over to your local grocery store to pick up precooked meats. The refrigerated section of your supermarket will have plenty of precooked meat for you to choose from, from cold cuts you can use for quick sandwiches, to sausages and soups. The option of pre-peeled and cooked shrimp will also make these a more suitable option for your dinner parties and have you enjoying them in more of your meals.
You could also opt to pick up a rotisserie chicken to shred for salads, sandwiches, and more. If you really don’t want to outsource your cooking however, then that’s okay too. To save time, you can precook meat at home. Toss some meat into the microwave so that it’s already partially cooked before you finish it on the grill or in the pan.
3. Food Processors are Your Friend
It’s reasonable to pick up a knife to chop up some garlic for quick sautéing if that’s all you’re going to use it for. However, in the event of a larger meal where you’re bound to be cutting up plenty of ingredients, try using a food processor. It gets the job done in a fraction of the time it takes for manual cutting up, which mean you have more time to prepare other things.
You’ll be able to speed through preparation time so that you can focus on cooking something delicious for your loved ones. It couldn’t be easier to chop your prep time in half, or even more than that!
4. Double Trouble? Not Quite!
When you are cooking up a healthy meal, it might be worth it to double the ingredients needed so that you can cook everything in one big batch. This helps save time and gives you plenty of leftovers so that you won’t have to spend the rest of the week cooking more meals for you and your family. It’s a simple and smart solution to saving more time in the kitchen, and is worth trying.
Try setting aside some of your free time for a day of cooking up plenty of things. Get everyone in the house involved and you can finish up in quicker time, so you won’t have to spend the rest of the week worrying about your next meal.
5. Canned is Fine
Sometimes it makes sense to buy things in a can instead of buying them fresh from the market. Beans in particular are a good example of this, as they come pre-soaked so that you don’t have to spend hours soaking and rinsing them in addition to all the preparation work you already have to do.
You can also make quick casseroles with cans of cream of mushroom soup, zesty sauces with diced tomatoes, and cut preparation time with cans of pre-processed food that only require a can opener and some quick cooking. It sure beats making things from scratch. Embrace this convenience when time is of the essence and you’ll find yourself a lot less stressed because of it.
6. If Not Canned, Try Frozen
Frozen fruits and vegetables are a perfect time-saver in the kitchen. You don’t need to worry that they might not be as nutritious either! Studies show that frozen vegetables retain most of their vitamins and minerals. Most of them have been flash-frozen, meaning that they were frozen in such a quick manner that they still retain the majority of what makes them nutritious.
This also ensures that you save a bit of money on produce that isn’t in season, and the fact that they are frozen means that you can enjoy them all the year round! Plenty of these frozen fruits and vegetables have already been chopped for you, so that’s another time-saver that will help you greatly in the kitchen—just defrost and cook! Frozen food helps keep kitchen work simple and fast.
7. Make a Slurry for Sauces
Sauces are great. They’re delicious and they add a new dimension to food. However, it’s difficult to create them in a short amount of time, with so much time being spent on waiting for the sauce to reduce and thicken. A solution to this is to create a slurry.
A slurry is a mixture of a thickener, be it cornstarch, flour, or whatever else you have on hand, with water. Mixing the two before adding them to a sauce ensures that there are no lumps, bumps, or clumps in your sauce, and will thicken the sauce almost immediately, cutting down on the time you would usually need to prepare your gravy.
8. Need a Fancy Feast? Try Catering!
If you’re going to be hosting a dinner party and expecting a large number of guests, then you’re probably already dreading the cooking. With so many people to cook for, you’re bound to exert plenty of effort and spend a lot of time slaving away in the kitchen. If you really need to impress, it may be best to hire a catering service.
Do some research online and talk with a local catering company who have a good reputation. Get them to cook a sumptuous feast for you and your guests, while you have free time to prepare everything else for your gathering or event. You can then focus on things that matter, like hosting for your guests. The best part is that the food will almost certainly be delicious, and you don’t have to worry about cooking or cleanup.