Cooking supper doesn't have to take up your whole evening. These kitchen timesavers help you shave time off of recipes and make cooking fun again!
A couple of weeks ago on Instagram, I asked folks what their biggest cooking challenges were. I started food blogging because I wanted to make vegan cooking accessible to everyone, so I wanted to know what was keeping you out of the kitchen.
Whether you cook frequently or not at all, I hope that these kitchen timesavers will help you get into the kitchen and prepare yummy vegan meals!
5 Kitchen Timesavers
These are some of the problems that folks brought up and ideas for kitchen timesavers to help make it easier.
I think it's the cleaning. Cooking is messy and I hate cleaning.
1. Clean while you cook. Quite a few people mentioned cleanup, and it's my least favorite part of cooking, too. Learning to clean while you cookin makes a huge difference.
My Nani Dorothy taught me that there is no such thing as downtime in the kitchen. Don't wait for water to boil or for veggies to bake. If you don't have to be actively cooking, you can be actively cleaning. Unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher while the oven preheats. Load dirties while things simmer or bake. It feels so good to sit down to a meal knowing that cleanup is practically done.
I wish I had more time to be in the kitchen!
A general lack of time was one that a lot of folks brought up, so the next three tips are all about how to reduce what is often the most time-consuming part of a recipe: chopping.
2. Hatch a plan for every recipe. I try to write my recipes with time economy in mind, but you can make this happen with any recipe.Unless you're on a cooking show, there's no need to have all of your veggies chopped and ingredients measured before you get started.
Read the steps and look for holes where you can clean or even prep. For example, if you have to pre-bake a pie crust for a pot pie, you can chop your veggies or unload the dishwasher while the crust is in the oven. Pretty much any recipe is going to have some downtime that you can take advantage of to make cooking easier on yourself.
3. Embrace prepared veggies. I hate chopping veggies, too, y'all. It can add so much time to an otherwise simple recipe. If there's a prepped version of what you need at the store, grab that instead! I have heard that pre-chopped veggies and fruits have fewer nutrients than fresh fruits and veggies, but I'm not finding evidence to back that up. From what I'm reading, even if there is nutrient loss, it's insignificant.
Sometimes you have to hand-chop, but if you can, why not go the easy route? Shredded carrots, pre-cut kale or broccoli, or pre-chopped onion all save you time in the kitchen.
Your food processor or blender can mince veggies for you in a flash. And small kitchen appliances like an electric pressure cooker can cook your food while you clean or watch TV - no standing over the stove.
Creativity in the kitchen is hard for me, I feel I do the same things over and over.
5. Bust out of a rut. Even a cooking rut really boils down to a time issue, right? You're on auto-pilot, because you don't have time to look for new recipes or try new things. Here's how to mix up your menu without spending a ton of extra time on meal planning.
My favorite way to bust out of a cooking rut is to sign up for a CSA basket. When you give up some control over what's coming into the house, you HAVE to hunt down new recipes or try new things. When the basket comes, do a google search for vegan recipes that include more than one of the ingredients in your basket. You can even include words like "quick" and "easy" to narrow things down further.
You can also use meal plans to help map out your grocery list and mix things up. Kathy Hester and JL Fields both offer free vegan menu plans that you can use. Or you can use a meal planning service, like Well Vegan to kickstart your cooking.
You don't have to overhaul your whole grocery routine to get out of a cooking rut if that seems too overwhelming, though. Swap out just one veggie that you normally buy for one you don't. See what looks fresh and intriguing. You can look up a recipe on the spot on your phone and grab everything else you need while you're still at the grocery store.
Do you have other hang-ups that keep you out of the kitchen? Share them in the comments - I'd love to help!