I spend a lot of time in the kitchen creating new dishes and experimenting and making recipes. This results in many trips to the grocery store, cooking and baking lots of food, and making many messes in the kitchen. To stay organized and to ensure cooking success, these are the 10 top things I do and a few of the secrets to my success:
1. Consider keeping a binder, organized by topic (Appetizers, Salads, Mains, etc.), of recipes you want to make. Make notes on any changes you want to consider directly on the copy of the printed recipe. Or, alternatively, keep your notes in an electronic file. I use my “Notes” app that came with my Apple laptop and find it to be a great place to post notes, as well as links, to recipes I want to try at a future date. It is also a helpful tool to plan and manage projects.
2. Type and save recipes you wish to create in a recipe program. I like Paprika Recipe Manager https://www.paprikaapp.com/. These types of app programs allow you to easily access the recipe details, change it, scale it, photograph the dish, keep notes about it, print it, and create a quick menu as well as a detailed grocery list.
3. When shopping for groceries, arrange the list by department. The app described above does this effortlessly. Even if you have to do this by hand, this step ensures you will get your shopping completed as efficiently and as quickly as possible.
4. Purchase the freshest products you can find. Learn the tricks to identifying older produce. Review dates on dairy, meats and even canned and packaged goods. Checking expiration dates on labels for any product is key to this objective.
5. Make a timeline for what needs to be accomplished breaking it down into steps by date, time and task. This is especially important when cooking many dishes for the holidays.
6. Pre-prep ingredients for easier menu creation. Washing vegetables, portioning out and wrapping proteins, precooking beans, legumes, rice, etc. in advance, etc. allows quicker recipe development and meal making throughout the week.
7. Before cooking, read recipes at least two times before starting, making notes of any special steps required. Make notes about the timing of each recipe and keep timers and sticky pads handy in the kitchen.
8. Measure out ALL ingredients before starting a recipe, and arrange them in the order that they will be used. This is a trick I learned when managing a test kitchen, and ensures that mis-steps are kept to a minimum. The added bonus is that you can process the recipe more quickly once organized.
9. Handwash large bowls, trays and pots and pans, and run the dishwasher only once per day at the end of the cooking project, saving water and electricity.
10. Keep your kitchen space and stovetop cleaned up after each use. The use of plastic burner covers are a helpful tool for my gas stove to meet this objective. This type of product is available online for both gas and electric stove tops.
I hope that you’ll find these ideas helpful and that by incorporating them into your cooking process, you’ll find extra success in your kitchen. Happy cooking!