How to Shortcut Your Cooking Process : Pre-prep
When you're opening a business they'll tell you that the key most important thing is:
"Location, Location, Location".
Well... when it comes to shortcuts in the kitchen the key most important thing is:
"Pre-prep, Pre-prep, Pre-prep".
If you've ever been in a restaurant, a fast food chain or a high school hash line, you've seen in action the precision of properly implemented time management. Those establishments have a very short turnaround time. They've got to get the person in and out as quick as humanly and humanely possible. No time can be wasted or the whole system goes down the toilet and people don't get fed on time and don't return, unless they're in the school hash lines - then they kind of have to come back. We're going to borrow from them similar kitchen and time management techniques.
There are going to be three things you'll notice about their system: 1) everything has a place and is in its place; 2) there are a lot of prepackaged items that they use to base (or as a base for) their dishes; 3) they operate the process like an assembly line - they have essentially automated their processes.
Here's how you make it work for you...
1) Put everything in its place
Once you go shopping and get your items to their final destination, put them away. If you don't already have a system in place to put them in their best places, that would be a great place to start. It does a few things for you: it allows you to see when you are running low on a staple and need to replenish; it keeps you from double or triple purchasing, so it saves you on time, money and spoilage; it establishes the creative and pragmatic flow of your kitchen - cooking in confusion is the pits.
2) Prepackage the items you'll use to base (or as a base for) your dishes
You are going to take as many of your ingredients as possible just to the brink of completion and then store them in their proper place ready for use. Translation: you'll make or get your sauces, marinades; your beans, grains, squashes and roots; your tofu, etc. as ready as possible until the moment that you are ready for a quick and tasty homemade meal and then you'll use them to make that meal. [Instead of making a cup of beans make five or ten cups of beans. With the same efforts and time that it would've taken to make that one cup, you end up with 10 to work with for a multitude of dishes; i.e. dips, soups & stews; re-fried beans; baked beans; bean pies; etc.] Your prep work is all done and all you have to do at that point is add them to the pot, baking dish, blender or whatever is called for to complete your prized gourmet dish.
3) Point and click - Automate
At this stage of the game you don't have to take up valuable mind space to figure out what you're going to do to get yourself fed. You'll just move through the assembly process without having to give it a second thought, whether you go by a preconceived idea, or just flow. It's the way that my wife and I catered our own wedding. We used this automation technique. You basically will just have to deal with implementing the appropriate step for what you're making, which is a matter of having already predetermined if you're going to mash, blend, bake, layer, etc., the item(s) you're working with at that given time; and if you're feeling particularly creative that day, you throw caution to the wind and come up with something new and innovative. You just want to always make sure that you start out with good quality ingredients.
If you use these tips from here on out you will be able to create almost any gourmet meal at a fraction of the cost & time.
For more tips and information get yourself a copy of my Vegetarian Resource Newsletter. You'll be happy you did!
As always... It's been great sharing with you. Until next time... Bye for now.
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