The post contains sponsored content. #aethercone
One of the biggest complaints I hear about cooking is the prep time it takes before and after the meal. Have you ever said, “I do all this hard work in the kitchen for a meal that takes minutes for everyone to finish. And then I have to clean it all up. It’s not worth it.”
Hang in there.
It IS worth it.
Here are my top 7 tips for improving your meal prep time in the kitchen so it doesn’t have to be a burden for you. Because we all know if something gets easier we are more likely to keep doing it.
Never underestimate the power of a paper plate. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good compost pile, glass container storage, and reusable produce bags. The one area where I break the rule is to keep a stack of cheap paper plates on hand for meal preparation. As you prep vegetables, keep a plate out for compost trimmings and one for your sliced, diced, or chopped ingredients. As they go into a dish, keep reusing the paper plates for other ingredients, remembering not to mix raw proteins. Try it.
Set the mood with Aether Cone. I used to pop in one of my favorite CDs as background music and switch it up depending on my mood. A pet-peeve of mine was having to stop what I was doing in the kitchen and walk over to the living room and change the stereo. Not anymore since I got my new Aether Cone player. All I have to do is press a button and tell it what I want to hear and it plays it for me. It is like having my own DJ who understands my vibe and makes recommendations based on me and then I tell it what I like. Whenever I want something different, I spin the cone’s simple designed front and viola, something similar begins playing. If I don’t like it, I spin again. Cool, huh? It keeps an eight-hour charge and allows me to pick it up and take it from the kitchen, to the dining table, to the living room, and even out to the back porch. It truly helps me create a perfect environment in my home and I find that I am enjoying prep work in the kitchen more than usual. Love, love, loving it. I have a Rdio unlimited streaming music account that syncs with it along with the ability to airplay with iTunes (although I haven’t tried that yet because I am loving the thinking experience that Rdio provides).
Speaking of ambiance, pour yourself a drink. The goal is to make it special, whether that means cabernet,sparkling mineral water, or tap water. Pour it into a stunning glass to make it extra special.
A hefty well-made cutting board is a great investment. I keep four cutting boards in my kitchen and two are strictly décor. I have a small portable one that I use for quickies or for travel and everything else gets the hefty big boy treatment on my butcher-block monster. There is something almost ritualistic about reaching up into my cupboards and placing it on the countertop as I begin prepping food. The large surface area works perfectly whether I am working on a large or small ingredient.
Parchment paper and wax paper are your new best friends. If you aren’t already using this in your prep work, now is the time to start. Tear off a piece of parchment to cover your cutting board and it will help you transfer foods to a dish as well as help you not have to spend as much elbow grease cleaning up the messy parts of food prep. Lately I have started using wax paper when working with raw chicken. It just a little thing that really helps clean up become more efficient.
Invest in a good knife that handles most of your needs. My Wustuff Classic hollow-edge santoku knife is my go-to knife for just about all my kitchen prep work. Go to a good knife store like Williams-Sonoma and test out how different sizes and brands feel in your hand. Mine fits my hand perfectly and because I don’t have an overflowing drawer of knives that I don’t use, I stay on top of sharpening and therefore prep work keeps humming along… and safely.
Clean as you go. This, my friends, should be the #1 tip. Yes, cleaning as you go may take a mental mindset change and definitely some practice until it gets a habit. The payoff is big. Having a dirty, cluttered and messy countertop may be the #1 discouragement and deterrent to want to cook. It may be many people’s reason why they reach for the phone to call the pizza delivery guy. Trust me on this one, taking a few minutes and cleaning a prep space before you begin will mentally put you on the right footing. Keeping the sink full of warm soapy suds is a good motivator to quickly clean up as you complete prepping steps.
So there you have it. Get everything ready to prep by cleaning your work area, pouring yourself something nice to drink, finding something new to listen to, prepping your cutting board with parchment paper and having your handy knife ready to go.
You’ve got this.
Eat well, my friends. Eat well.