Chatelaine Kitchen

10 ways to speed up dinner prep

Ready, set, go! Be more efficient in the kitchen with these tips and tricks.

Dinner prep

Have your tools, ingredients and recipe handy for easy prep.

Getting a delicious meal on the table at the end of the day doesn’t have to be an exhausting, labour-intensive process. Make the most out of your time in the kitchen with these simple tricks for speeding up dinner prep:

1. Plan ahead
Having a plan before you step into the kitchen is the best way to avoid unnecessary stress. Start out by trying our week-long menu complete with a shopping list and you’ll be all set for dinner for the entire week.

2. Keep the fridge and pantry organized
Don’t waste time searching for ingredients in the fridge or pantry. Keeping your kitchen organized will ultimately save you precious minutes of meal prep. A great place to begin is by purging your pantry, fridge and freezer.

3. Thoroughly read recipes before starting
Taking a few minutes to read over a recipe before you get started is a great way to know what steps are ahead and avoid any unnecessary mistakes.

4. Set out all ingredients and equipment needed
Setting out all your equipment and ingredients before getting started on your recipe will save you trips back and forth from the cupboards to the counter, allowing you to measure, chop, slice and dice, both easily and efficiently.

5. Use time-saving tools
There are many tools that are great for speeding up tedious tasks in the kitchen; try kitchen shears for peeling shrimp and cutting meat and fresh herbs, a garlic press to crush garlic and a citrus squeezer to get fresh juice in seconds.

6. Designate a bowl for scraps
Instead of running back and forth to compost bin every few minutes, keep a bowl at the side of your cutting board for peels, rinds and other food waste.

7. Use a sharp knife
A sharp knife will make slicing, dicing and chopping vegetables faster and safer – as a sharp knife is more precise and less likely to slip.

8. Cut meat or poultry into smaller pieces or pound flat
When cut into smaller pieces, meat and poultry will cook more quickly, this is a technique that is often used in stir fry recipes. You can also pound chicken and turkey using a mallet or a rolling pin like we’ve done in our asparagus stuffed chicken breasts. In this case, pounding the chicken means it will cook in the same amount of time as the asparagus.

9. Don’t crowd the pan
As you add cold cuts of poultry, meat or fish to a pan, they lower the temperature of the cooking surface – increasing the overall cook time. Instead, try cooking in batches to avoid slowing down the cooking process.

10. Cut a few corners
Pressed for time? Here are a few easy ways to cut a few corners when you’re in a hurry: buy a rotisserie chicken for quick pastas, wraps and pizzas, use canned beans instead of dried, or pick up refrigerated pizza dough for a quick, kid-friendly dinner.

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