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10 ways to be more efficient in the kitchen

As a personal chef, I often need to cook five different entrees in one day for my clients. To ensure that I am not still in their kitchen when they are ready to turn the lights out, I need to work as efficiently as possible.

While you may not need to make as many meals as I do in a day, after a full day of work, you probably want to get dinner on the table as easily as possible.

Here are a few tips which will make sure you’re cooking quickly and safely.


  1. Start with a sharp knife: Using a dull knife is actually more dangerous than using a sharp one and will make cooking a real chore. If you’re using your knives on a regular basis, sharpen them every few months. You can visit your local kitchen store and have them take care of it for you for just a few dollars.

  2. Create a safe work surface: Before you start chopping, make sure your cutting board is securely in place. If it’s not stationary, place a kitchen towel under the board to keep it from moving.

  3. Use a scraps bowl: To minimize the steps you’re taking in the kitchen, place a bowl next to your cutting board for your scraps. This will eliminate the need to walk back and forth to the garbage can.

  4. Wash all produce first: Make sure all of your fruits and veggies are washed and placed on a towel to dry before you begin cooking. This saves you time walking from the sink to the cutting board and back again. It also gives the produce a chance to air dry a bit before you need to use it.

  5. Prep all ingredients before cooking: Making sure all of your ingredients are ready to go before you are is called “mise en place,” which is a French term that means, “putting in place.” Before you start adding things to a hot pan, make sure all the necessary ingredients have been prepped, chopped, sliced and seasoned.

  6. Let your pan and oven wait for you: Before you begin your mise en place, get your oven or pan hot. If you need to steam or boil something, heat up the water before you do anything else. This will shave minutes off your time in getting a meal on the table.

  7. Wash and store fresh herbs right after getting home from the store: Once you get all your groceries in the house, take a few minutes to wash and dry your fresh herbs. Wrap the herbs separately in dry paper towels, place them in a plastic storage bag and label the contents. Next time you need fresh parsley, cilantro or mint, it will be ready to use.

  8. Ditch those measuring spoons: Learn to estimate the amounts for your salt, pepper and spices. To do so, measure out a tablespoon of spice, and place it in the palm of your hand. Look at how much space it takes up. Do this with a teaspoon and note the difference. Test yourself by estimating the amount next and then putting it into the measuring spoon to see how close your estimate was. Eventually you will no longer need those measuring spoons.

  9. Alphabetize your spices: Shave off precious seconds by putting your spices in alphabetical order in your cabinet. You’ll find your spices more quickly and avoid buying spices you already have.

  10. Multi-task: Once you’re feeling confident in your kitchen skills, try managing two or more tasks at a time. While the pasta is cooking, sauté your meat or veggies in a pan. While your meat is on the grill, create a salad and put some veggies in the oven to roast. If you have trouble keeping track of the cooking times, use a timer or two to alert you when something needs to be turned over, taken out of the oven or off the heat.



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