- There are some things you might be doing in the kitchen that are costing you time.
- Overcrowding your pan or deep-fryer will make your food cook less efficiently.
- The more kitchen tools you use, the more you’ll have to clean.
Chances are that, in an effort to spend less time in the kitchen, you might have sought out time-saving hacks and shortcuts.
And although many of these tips are worth following, there are also some that might actually make you a less efficient cook.
Here are just a few things you’re doing that are wasting more time than you think.
You’re trying to cook everything at once
You might think that if you cook all your food at once, everything will be done faster. This, however, isn’t the case. Every time you add something new to the pan, you lower its temperature.
According to Real Simple magazine, when too much food is in a pan, the heat cannot escape and instead gets trapped under the food. The result is steamed and flavorless food. If you’re looking to get your dish crispy in an overcrowded pan, you’ll likely have to cook it for a lot longer than you’d like.
You’re using more kitchen tools than you actually need
You might think that using many different kitchen tools depending on the task at hand will save you time, but that’s not always the case.
For example, if you are able to smash a clove of garlic with the flat part of your chef’s knife rather than a garlic press, you’ll save yourself from cleaning two kitchen tools later on. In the end, the fewer tools used means less cleaning, which means less time wasted.
Read more: 21 handy cooking tools we rely on in our own kitchens
You’re overcrowding your pot or fryer when deep-frying
The key to tasty, golden-brown fried foods is frying them at the proper temperature, usually somewhere between 325 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Just like when you overcrowd a pan on your stovetop, overcrowding a deep-fryer is incredibly inefficient as it lowers the temperature.
When fried in a lower temperature, your French fries, or anything else you’re frying, will start to absorb the oil and become soggy instead of crispy and delicious, according to Cooking Light magazine.
This will likely result in you having to re-fry your dish in smaller batches.
Read more: The best deep fryers you can buy
You’re not taking the time to chop your ingredients into roughly the same shape and size
It turns out, rushing the chopping process when cooking will actually cost you time later on. Evenly chopped vegetables aren’t just done for aesthetic purposes — they’re also useful in ensuring all your food cooks at the same time.
According to Tasting Table, when you put ingredients of many different sizes and shapes into a single cooking vessel, they’re all going to finish cooking at different times. In an effort to ensure one, larger piece of a vegetable is cooked enough, you’ll likely end up spending excess time and potentially burning a different, smaller piece.
You’re cooking all of your ingredients at the same time
If you’re making a stir-fry, you might have chunks of eggplant, carrots, and onion along with long beans or snap peas, cabbage, and scallions. These vegetables, however, don’t all cook at the same time.
In the case of the scallions, for example, they probably should be added after you’ve turned off the heat. If you dump them all into the pan at once, the longer-cooking veggies — eggplants, carrots, and onions — won’t be thoroughly cooked by the time the snap peas and cabbage are ready. This will likely result in you having to take the extra time to re-cook parts of your dish.
You’re attempting to tenderize your meat by using a marinade
Marinades do have a purpose — but that purpose is imparting flavor, not tenderizing meat.
As Robert L. Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and food columnist for the Washington Post wrote in his book “What Einstein Told His Cook,” some fruit enzymes — bromelain in pineapple, ficin from fig trees, and papain from papayas — can tenderize meat to a very slight degree by breaking down the meat’s proteins.
Unfortunately, this effect only works at a surface level and won’t make much difference to a thick, juicy chop. Wolke wrote that your best bet is purchasing meat that has been aged or cuts that are naturally more tender.
If you’re wondering how to know which cut of meat is the most tender, the Warner-Bratzler shear force number, an indicator of how much force is required to slice through various cuts of meat, can tell you. More tender cuts have lower numbers, while tougher cuts have higher numbers.
You’re putting your food in the oven before the appliance is done preheating
For the sake of both consistency and food safety, let your oven come to the proper temperature before putting food in it. If you put your food in early, the resulting texture might not be what you want and you may end up having to start from scratch.
Also, in terms of food safety, the USDA recommends letting your food spend as little time as possible between the temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
You’re not reading the comments on a new recipe you found online
Reading recipe comments can save you a lot of time and frustration — whether it’s from a professional publication or a personal cooking blog, according to Quartz.
Published recipes aren’t always perfect and sometimes have mistakes, but chances are that you’ll find a commenter who caught and corrected the mistake in the comments.
You also might find useful information — like to cook something for less time than the recipe indicated — that might stop you from wasting time.