What’s the first thing you do when you start to cook? Do you pull out all the ingredients? Do you grab the pots and pans you will need? Do you call the pizza guy?
For many people, the first step they think of when it comes to cooking is prepping all of the ingredients. Chopping all the vegetables, preparing the protein, maybe even measuring out the dry and liquid ingredients. Doing all of this before you start the actual cooking is called mis-en-place and if you are cooking this way, then, in my humble opinion, you are doing things wrong. Ok. Not wrong, per se, but inefficiently. And it is not your fault! This is how recipes are written (even mine). This is how many of us were taught to do things. Why? Because this is the standard practice in restaurants. For them, it makes sense. They prep all of the ingredients so that when an order comes in, they can just grab and start cooking. Plus they have assistants to do all the chopping, grating, measuring for them.
But for us, a different approach tends to work better and that is what I call tandem cooking. By that I mean that instead of doing all the prepping and then all the cooking, the approach should be prep, start cooking, prep some more, continue cooking, and so on. For some people this can feel a bit overwhelming at first because they aren’t sure that they are fast enough at the prep side of things. What I tell people is that with a little bit of pre-planning before you get started, you can map out an approach (given your own pace of prepping) that will make it possible for you to prep and cook at the same time, and save a whole lot of time in the process! Here’s what it looks like:
Step 1: Read & Plan. Read the recipe. Carefully. Think through the steps that you are going to be taking. Is there a first step where an ingredient or two needs to cook for 5 or 10 minutes? Then use that 5 or 10 minutes to prep the next set of ingredients, rather than standing at the stove stirring constantly. Is there a time when things will be simmering for 20 minutes? Then that might be a great time to pull out and prep the final ingredients. Whatever the case, just come up with a plan that feels doable and fluid.
Step 2: First Stage of Prep. Pull out the first ingredients you will need. Prep them.
Step 3: Start Cooking. Heat up the oil, start the water boiling, get that first stage of cooking going.
Step 4: Prep Some More. It may be only two stages of prep, it may be more. If you need to stir from time to time, great. If you are worried you might forget, set a timer.
Step 5: Cook Some More.
(Step 6: Continue as Needed.)
And that’s it! This approach may take some getting used to, but I promise that once you’ve done it a couple of times you will be astonished by how much time it saves you and how much more natural it feels to be in the kitchen.
Like this tip? Join us for the 10-Day Cooking Challenge where we will be talking about all kinds of tip and tricks like this that will help you get cooking more efficiently and happily!! It starts A WEEK FROM TODAY so sign up now!