Our Formula: Prep time = Time saved

What do YOU do to prepare to cook? The answer to that may depend on how much cooking you have done. We have learned about the advantages of preparation from years of personal experience. Did you read our discussion Get Ready to Be Ready ? Basically, we suggest that you need to know what you are going to cook, what ingredients you will need and how much time you need to make a recipe. Are you reading that statement thinking “well obviously!”? Yes, I agree it is obvious, but I can’t count how many times I have started a recipe to find that I didn’t have everything I needed to finish it. Maybe I didn’t have a certain a spice or herb. Maybe the missing ingredient was something I usually have, like an onion, or garlic, or rice. No matter what the missing ingredient was, the frustration of having to figure out what to do, midstream in making a recipe, because I hadn’t fully prepared, eventually taught me to plan and prepare before I start to cook. We are trying to spare you the grief of learning the hard way ?.

Being prepared makes all the difference in how you feel about cooking. We understand that it can be counter intuitive to think that adding a step to your cooking regime can save time. But read on. You might buy into our conclusion that preparation saves time. Consider giving our suggestions a try before you shrug them off.

So, let’s just get to it!

Have you ever watched a cooking show, or a cooking segment on a news or talk show, or a video where someone is demonstrating cooking a recipe? Before the cook starts, all the ingredients are there, prepared and ready to go. As you watched them making the recipe, have you thought to yourself “Sure it looks easy, everything is already prepared and sitting right there”? BINGO! You are so right. It IS easy when you have all the ingredients prepared, it absolutely is. When you bring that approach to making dinner in your kitchen, it is infinitely easier.

First, gather all the ingredients and equipment you need.

get your recipe ingredients and equipment together

Take out the ingredients and equipment called for in the recipe. In the process of taking out all your ingredients and cookware, you confirm you have everything you need. If you are missing something, maybe you have something on hand you can substitute. Or maybe you just need to scrap making that recipe tonight.

Next, get the ingredients prepared. Chop what needs to be chopped. Measure the liquid ingredients. If you are going to be adding several ingredients at the same time, put similar ingredients into a single cup, dish, bowl, or a plate. You don’t need to get fancy. Use what you have.

marinade ingredients added right into the baking dish

In this picture we have added all the measured ingredients right into the baking dish we are going to be using to marinate the meat for our COUNTRY STYLE RIBS ? BAKED OR GRILLED.

Get rid of the thought that preparing prior to cooking is costing you time. You are going to have to chop the onion anyway. You are going to have to crack the eggs into a bowl and stir them at some point anyway. You are going to have to measure out the salt, pepper, spices and herbs anyway. It is going to take the same amount of time or less before you cook, as it will while you are cooking. Haste makes waste. If you are shuffling through your measuring spoons, or looking for the measuring cup, or chopping the garlic while your dinner is cooking on the stove, there is a far greater chance that something will go wrong, get forgotten, get spilled or be mis-measured. Think back, isn’t that when it all started going downhill while you were making dinner; when your potatoes turned to mush because you were busy chopping the carrots? You were late getting started on the carrots because the vegetable peeler was hiding under the knives in the drawer. And as you were rushing around, getting more frustrated by the moment, your recipe was overcooking! And now, you want to take those mushy potatoes, chopped carrots and the vegetable peeler and DO WHAT WITH THEM? I know! I have been there. Instead, if you have all your ingredients measured and ready to go, the cooking process is a cinch. Like the cook on the show or the video, all you need to do is add the prepared ingredients when they are called for in the recipe. It is a lot less stressful. Believe it or not, Ricky and I both find that preparing the ingredients is actually relaxing as well as rewarding. You can work at a more leisurely pace when you are preparing ahead. Getting things ready, is a win-win approach to cooking. Your work is easier on the front end and easier on the final stretch too.

chicken stir fry ingredients washed and ready to chop
chicken stir fry ingredients chopped and sauce mixed

Now the ingredients are ready, but are you? After our prep is done we will do a little clean up of our work area, so we are not pushing things around to get to our now “recipe ready” ingredients. Whether you choose to reorganize your work area or not, take a breather. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, just walk away from your work area. Hopefully you can relax a bit knowing most of the work is already done. Diverting your attention from making dinner at this point, will change your attitude about finishing it. When you get back to the kitchen to start cooking, it is like a fresh start. You will be like the TV/video cook. All you have to do is follow the cooking instructions and put it all together. Our bet is that you will actually feel more skilled, now that you are as organized as they are.

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