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1. Be organized. Always have your pantry, refrigerator and freezer in order. Don’t waste time digging for a certain ingredient or utensil—have everything in its place.
2. Read the recipe before you begin. Misunderstanding or overlooking an ingredient can ruin dinner or take extra time and effort to fix.
3. Prep first. Have all your ingredients, washed, chopped and measured before you begin. If you’re chopping garlic while onions are already cooking, you’re more likely to burn or overcook what’s on the stovetop.
4. Sharpen your knife. A sharp blade will slice with ease and accuracy while a dull blade slowly saws through food, wasting time and energy. Plus, you’re more likely to have an accident while using a dull blade.
5. Work ahead. Preheat your oven, fill your rice cooker and have a pot of water for blanching or boiling at the ready. Making mashed potatoes as a side? Peel your potatoes, place in a saucepan and cover with salted water up to an hour in advance.
6. Look for chances to multitask. While you’re waiting for something to cook, clean up, set the table or throw together some dessert.
7. For preparing food in large quantities, use the appliances you keep hidden under your counter. A food processor can shred, grate, chop, mince and purée.
8. Use the appropriate size pan for the job. Trying to stir a large amount of food in a small pot will result in longer cooking time and a messy stovetop.
9. Most important of all, relax. Feeling stressed or rushed could mean scalded hands and injured fingertips, and undercooking meats and other proteins might result in food poisoning. Turn on some music, take the time you need and enjoy yourself!
Looking for great recipes to cook fast? Try our weeknight dinners under 30 minutes.