DIY Kitchen Hacks: Time-Saving Tips for Busy Cooks

In today's fast-paced world, finding time to cook healthy and delicious meals can be a challenge. But fear not, busy cooks! With a few clever kitchen hacks, you can save time, streamline your cooking process, and still enjoy scrumptious homemade meals. In this blog post, we'll explore some DIY kitchen hacks that are designed to make your life easier and more efficient in the kitchen. 

Let's dive in!

Meal Planning Mastery:

Start by dedicating a few minutes each week to meal planning. Create a weekly menu, make a grocery list, and prep ingredients in advance. This will save you time during busy weekdays and help you avoid last-minute meal dilemmas.

Batch Cooking Brilliance:

Embrace the power of batch cooking. Prepare large quantities of staples like rice, pasta, or roasted vegetables and store them in separate containers. Use these pre-cooked ingredients throughout the week to assemble quick and easy meals in a snap.

Let me share how I managed those busy days with young children, a busy husband and a father, who loves good food and a job to manage. In those days, there were no home delivery apps and I lived in an upcoming town of Haryana, with no developed support system for trained supporting hands in cooking in particular. Since I was working in a school, I used to plan my next week's meals on Fridays. All inventory shopping, curry masalas made for the week and kept in the fridge. I also used to make nick-nack snacks like mathri, shakarparas, namakpaare, gud ki poori , home made namkeens etc also for the week on Friday, so that I have my weekends free and relaxing. This way, Friday was busy but with the youthful energetic body and a mind to give the best and pure to your family does the magic

Freezer Magic:

Utilize your freezer as a time-saving ally. Prepare extra portions of soups, stews, and casseroles, and freeze them in individual portions. This way, you'll always have a homemade meal ready to go when time is tight. 

My freezer was always packed with frozen vegetables like peas and corn and frozen snacks ( it was a newly available item in those times). 

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Knife Skills 101:

Mastering basic knife skills can significantly reduce your prep time. Practice chopping, dicing, and mincing techniques to speed up the vegetable-cutting process. You'll be amazed at how quickly you can whip up a salad or stir-fry with well-honed knife skills. 

This is easier said than done. :) At least for me. I bought a hand chopper and a set of knives to make my cooking less time-consuming. But there is no replacement for a helping human hand. When my maid who used to wash my utensils agreed to cut vegetables, it was a big relief. 

One-Pan Wonders:

Cooking an entire meal in a single pan not only saves time but also minimizes cleanup. Explore one-pan recipes like sheet pan dinners or skillet meals. Simply toss your ingredients together, pop them in the oven or on the stovetop, and voila! A flavorful meal with minimal fuss. 

This was my favourite in those busy days. Cooking "dal-chawal" together in a cooker was one of my favourite meals on weekends. Even pulav or biryani was a one-pot meal. It still is my favourite. Khichadi, a mix of lentil-rice veggies is a healthy one-pot meal from Indian kitchens.

Instant Pot Magic:

Invest in a multi-functional appliance like an Instant Pot. It can be a game-changer for busy cooks. With pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and steaming capabilities, it speeds up cooking times without compromising flavour. In India, we usually use a pressure cooker. Insta pots have recently made their entry in India, thanks to E-commerce websites. 

Clever Kitchen Gadgets:

Discover the magic of time-saving kitchen gadgets. From garlic peelers and herb strippers to vegetable choppers and mandolines, these tools can streamline your prep work and make cooking a breeze.

I have bought many gadgets to make my work easier in those days. times have changed and changed for the better as one can find enough options to ease the workload in the kitchen. 

One of the best and most useful items in my kitchen is my microwave oven. There is always something left over which needs to be reheated. I had used the microwave in my earlier days of owning as a reheater appliance. It was a big relief. Then I started making tea in the microwave oven. After that, I tried many dishes like dhokla, handva and pulav, boiling vegetables like potatoes etc. It was convenient and time-saving. 

Smart Storage Solutions:

Organize your kitchen efficiently with smart storage solutions. Keep your most frequently used utensils, spices, and condiments within easy reach. Label and stack your pantry items to quickly locate ingredients. A well-organized kitchen saves precious minutes during meal preparation.

Make-Ahead Breakfasts:

Mornings can be chaotic, but a little planning can make them easier. Prepare make-ahead breakfasts like overnight oats, idli, vada,  aloo-poori, stuffed paranthas, poha, and veg bambino that you can make easily on busy mornings. 

Being a busy cook doesn't mean compromising on flavour or resorting to takeout every night. By implementing these time-saving DIY kitchen hacks, you can reclaim your time, enjoy delicious homemade meals, and make cooking an enjoyable part of your routine. Experiment with these tips, adapt them to your needs and let them transform your culinary experience. 

Happy cooking!

Neerja Bhatnagar

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