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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

14 Tips For Cooking Faster At Home

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Courtesy: Wendy Wesley
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Wendy Wesley shares 14 tips for cooking faster at home. If you want to eat healthier in 2021, you have to eat more home-cooked meals.

If you want to eat healthier in the new year, you’ve gotta eat more home-cooked meals. So says Wendy Wesley. She’s a registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist in St. Petersburg. Wendy says the more efficient you are in the kitchen, the more likely you are to actually cook. She shares her list of 14 tips to help us do just that.

THE ZEST PODCAST: Listen To The Episode

The 14 Tips for Working Faster in the Home Kitchen

By Wendy Wesley

  1. Cutting Board Stays Out on Counter. Cutting board should preferably be made of wood and at least 2-foot by 1-foot. This saves a step in food prep because the cutting board is out and ready to go. I also see fruit and vegetable consumption increase when the cutting board is out.
  2. “Wash/Chop/Cook.” Create flow with “wash/chop/cook” design by placing your cutting board between sink and stove. Try, if at all possible, to place your cutting board between the sink and the cooktop or at least place the cutting board next to the cooktop.
  3. Be Well-Stocked. Load your pantry, refrigerator and freezer with a complete stable list. Never let the fact that you have no rice in the pantry stall your cooking plans. Stay stocked!
  4. Cheap Sharp Knives. Knives don’t have to be expensive, but they have to be sharp. Keep trying new knives until you find one that feels safe and comfortable.
  5. Purge Tools and Gadgets. If you haven’t used it in six months, throw it away. If a fork or knife will do its job, throw it away. Clutter robs you of time and peace. Put it in a box and place that box in the garage or a closet. Receive the items as you need them. After a year, it all goes to the thrift store.
  6. Purge Pots and Pans. Keep a collection of workhorse pans and get rid of the ones that don’t work for you. All pots and pans should be oven-proof (no plastic handles). Same experiment as above applies here.
  7. Consider a Pot Rack. Get your pots high and within sight. Allow them to guide your meal planning. No one likes looking for pots in a dark corner cabinet.
  8. Keep Spices, Oils and Utensils Within Reach. Keep the spices, oils and utensils you cook with every day out in your cooking zone and within a small reach. Mount spice racks and paper towel racks to free up precious countertop space. Create mise en place just like the professionals do.
  9. Use a Garbage Bowl/Bag. Don’t waste time carrying your scraps and trash from your work area to the garbage can. Dump it in a bowl or bag to avoid wet floors and unnecessary steps.
  10. Thaw “A” Protein. Not “The” Protein. Take a protein out of the freezer in the morning and give yourself permission to not know what it will be. Decide when you return home what you will cook. And relax!
  11. The Toaster Oven is Your Friend. There is no shame in toaster oven cooking especially in Florida. It preheats fast and cooks evenly. Use it. No shame.
  12. Cook Grains in Advance. Just cook it and put it in the fridge.
  13. Crudite is a Vegetable. Slice, chop, wedge, whatever. Serve it with a side of dressing or a drizzle of oil and call it DONE!
  14. Fruits and Vegetables on the Counter or Front and Center in the Fridge – Place fruits and vegetables out on the counter on a nice platter or at eye level in the refrigerator. You should ask yourself before every meal, “Where’s my fruit? Where’s my vegetable?” Snacks should also be plants: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
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