You’ve always enjoyed cooking and experiementing with food. That passion for food preparation, however, has waned as you’ve become the meal planner and cook for your family. After years of cooking for your family, you’ve discovered that preparing food can be a time-consuming, tedious task. As a result, unhealthy takeout has become a weekly staple in your family’s dinner menu.
How do you become a better, more efficient chef in your kitchen?

Here are 5 tips to try:

1. Have all the equipment

If you’ve gotten into the rut of making the same meals frequently because your supplies of pots, pans, bowls and cooking utensils are lacking, you need to change that right away. A great home kitchen cook will have at least one Dutch oven, skillet, wok, roasting pan, casserole dish, slow cooker, sauce pan and salad bowl. The greater the variation of pots and pans you have, the more dishes you’ll be able to make.
It is also a good idea to have multiple smaller bowls available to help separate wet and dry ingredients and separate cutting boards for meat and fruits and vegetables.

2. Stock Your Pantry Well

Just like having a variety of pots and pans open up more cooking recipe possibilities, a well-stocked pantry can keep your dinner menu open to multiple options. It is a good idea to have a few staple spices and oils on hand including salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, basil, flour, sugar, olive oil, cooking oil and soy sauce. A variety of vegetables, milk, beef or vegetable broth, butter, beans, rice and pasta are food items that you should always have on hand.

3. Always Have a Repertoire of Sides

Sometimes, the main dish isn’t a complete meal. It may be a meat dish or pasta or rice dish that lack nutritious vegetables. A meatless meal may lack the protein of beans. Sides help complete a meal, making it more balanced. A premade salad, or a salad you make so often you can whip it up in no time, or some rolls or French bread, can add to the completeness and nutrition of a meal. Having a repertoire of sides in your pocket allows you to put your energy and focus on preparing the entrée.

4. Keep Your Counter Space Organized

As you’ve probably found out, cooking can get messy and your large kitchen counter can suddenly seem like it has shrunk. A cluttered workspace can slow your food prep by making you search for ingredients and preparing ingredients out of order that makes the process inefficient. You may not have a big kitchen to work with and space can be an issue, but gathering your ingredients ahead of time and organizing them by your work station.

5. Make Chopping a Breeze

Do you get frustrated when trying to chop up an onion? The slippery layers of onions can slow your meal prep routine down, not to mention the unpleasant burning, stinging, watery eyes.

To make the cutting of onions or other difficult fruits and vegetables easier, firmly hold the vegetable in place and leave the root end intact. Cutting toward the intact root end will help keep the layers together, making cutting more efficient and less frustrating. It also helps to have a variety of high-quality, sharpened kitchen knives available. Adequately sharpened knives make cutting quick, easy and less messy.

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