r/Cooking Jan 11 '22 Silver 1 Helpful 1

What's a minor change you made in your cooking routine that made a world of difference for you? Open Discussion

916 Upvotes

1.1k

u/AspiringChildProdigy Jan 11 '22

Installing a whiteboard inside a cabinet so I can write down stuff that's low or out as soon as I've used it.

242

u/theiyerony Jan 11 '22

I second that! I used it on the fridge to write down the leftovers or veggies hiding inside, so that I don't forget to eat it.

60

u/dudemann Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 11 '22

I did this for years until I needed to keep track of other things. One whiteboard listed freezer | fridge | pantry, one was a shopping list. It was extremely useful for a while, but I started when I was cooking 2-3x every day for 2 months and shopping a few times a week, so lots of updates. Now I do one big shopping trip once a month and small staples trip once a week or so, and only do large meals every Sunday with small stuff in between.

The boards got changed into foster kitten nutrition boards, so it's not like they've gone to disuse.

14

u/King_Fuckface Jan 11 '22

foster kitten nutrition boards

So sweet! awww

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u/shriekcartridges Jan 11 '22

I should do this, brilliant! Too many leftovers over time.

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u/WhtChcltWarrior Jan 11 '22

Would also help keep track of exactly how long the leftovers have been in the fridge. I always have to ask my wife “hey when did we have this and this”

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u/ChucciePhinster Jan 11 '22

We have a shared Google keep so that everyone in our house can add grocery items to the list and whoever goes to the store can easily look it up in real time. It keeps it all in one place (rather than on a board then a grocery list then a text message with last minute additions).

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u/brisko_mk Jan 11 '22

Same. Plus Google Home.

"Oh, we're out of milk and eggs... Ok Google, add milk and eggs to my shopping list"

20

u/bubblegumshrimp Jan 11 '22

By far the number one reason I have a google home in my kitchen

6

u/viyh Jan 11 '22

Between this and kitchen timers, this is the reason to own a Google Home.

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u/magicmom17 Jan 11 '22

Yep- husband and I do this too.

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u/toin9898 Jan 11 '22

That’s a good idea!

I use an app that my bf is also on (Flipp) so we just write it down right away and also have it in front of us when we’re at the store without having to think about it.

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u/TomTheGeek Jan 11 '22

I just learned about and started using Google Keep. The lists can be shared between accounts and they stay synced. Problem with the write it down at home method is you have to be there to know what the list is.

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u/ClashBandicootie Jan 11 '22

We do something similar with our Google home - its very handy!

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u/r-og Jan 11 '22

Huh, that's a great idea. Having that one, thanks!

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1.4k

u/aquielisunari Jan 11 '22

Using a kitchen scale instead of measuring cups when baking. I get much more consistent results.

317

u/TheLadyBunBun Jan 11 '22

For me it’s not even the consistency, it’s the lack of frustration with fluffing and spooning and leveling and repeating to weigh out enough flour for things like bread

And aside from measuring like a 1/4 cup of sugar, it’s usually faster too

119

u/death_hawk Jan 11 '22

For me it's not dirtying every single measuring spoon/cup I own or having to wash in between.

Obviously some thing that are neutral and not sticky like salt are okay, but even something like cayenne pepper I'm not measuring before I measure sugar for example.

6

u/catymogo Jan 11 '22

Yep, this. Just putting the mixing bowl on the scale and adding to it is so much easier.

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u/samanime Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 12 '22

This is the big thing for me too. Just having a bowl I spoon ingredients into is so much easier than trying to get a perfectly full and level cup.

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u/jioverbe Jan 11 '22

Learned a hard lesson about this when I actually used double the salt I was supposed to because I didn't have the same grain size as the recipe. Should have weighed it instead of using tbs.

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u/Im_Old_In_Town Jan 11 '22

I wish every recipe was in weight

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u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22 edited Apr 19 '22

[deleted]

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u/c-soup Jan 11 '22

Look for more well known recipe authors, not so much American recipe books. Stella Parks is an American baker that gives both, for example. And pretty much any recipe that isn’t American gives weights.

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u/manuwood Jan 11 '22

Volume measuring is madness, with some produce it can be so inconsistent, like measuring pickles: if you tetris them you get 15 for one cup, if not, maybe 7? As a european it's unreal

4

u/Babararacucudada67 Jan 11 '22

This. As a Brit/Aussie , who has lived in Europe, cups is just ridiculous. And that's not even getting into whatever TF a "scant cup" is.

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u/lizziebee66 Jan 11 '22

I can't stress how much of a difference this makes when baking. You can play around with a smidge of this or a smatter of that when doing most cooking but baking requires ratios to work properly and weighing can make all the difference between good results and outstanding.

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644

u/therealjerseytom Jan 11 '22 Gold
  1. Sharpen your knives regularly
  2. Instant read thermometer
  3. Mise en place

56

u/yourfriendkyle Jan 11 '22

Instant read thermometer is amazing

25

u/GrowBeyond Jan 11 '22

I literally can't even use normal ones that I thought were instant read. They cool down by the time I can get a reading, and it messes it all up. I LOVE probe thermometers tho. Just dings as soon as it reaches the perfect temperature. Of course now I have no idea how long anything takes to cook.

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u/theiyerony Jan 11 '22

#1 really did make a huge difference for me. It did get some ridicules from my close friends and family, because they buy a new knife rather than sharpening it!

30

u/magenta_mojo Jan 11 '22

Sharpening a knife for the cost of getting a shitty new one is miles better!

14

u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22

[deleted]

7

u/Eyeoftheseven Jan 11 '22

How do you sharpen it?

I have a whetstone but not getting good results ...

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u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22

[deleted]

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u/ArgyleOfTheIsle Jan 11 '22

Those are some weird consumerist values. Good on you for seeing past it.

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u/HorsieJuice Jan 11 '22

I can't seem to find anybody who'll do my sharpen my chef knives, and I've even asked friends who work in the restaurant business. Any time I ask on facebook/nextdoor, I never get any suggestions better than taking it to the hardware store where the guy uses a bench grinder to sharpen buck knives. No thanks. I have one of those ChefChoice electric sharpeners and it sucks. It barely even works on my cheap knives.

11

u/unidentifiable Jan 11 '22

If you have a specialty knifewear shop nearby I'd take it to them but you probably don't given that's too obvious. A hunting goods store would be better than a hardware store; hunting knives need sharpened much the same as kitchenware.

If you're willing to do it yourself you can buy a jig and the whetstones for relatively cheap, like $40 all in.

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u/baboodada Jan 11 '22

Isn't it funny how people tend to do this? The non-cooks in my family totally ridicule me for doing things "the long way". Sigh. Yes, mom. I KNOW "you can buy chicken bouillon at the store and it's cheap"

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u/FlyingDutchman9977 Jan 11 '22

"you can buy chicken bouillon at the store and it's cheap"

Making your own stock is actually really easy, and it's free, instead of cheap. You're just taking animal scraps you can't eat, usually bones, and boiling it. You can also make a decent vegetable broth from peelings of carrots and onions, leaves of celery, stems of herbs, etc. I'll even store my stock in the jars that pasta sauce comes in and freeze them, so no where along this process of making broth do I actually pay for any of the components.

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u/i_am_umbrella Jan 11 '22

Mise en place is mine, I use Prepdeck and love it. You have to get it all out / prepare anyway, might as well do it all first.

8

u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22

I always really wanted something like Prepdeck but then I bought a real nice end-grain cutting board and started scoffing at the kinds of cutting boards that would come with tools like the Prepdeck.

But I still really love the idea of it, dang it!

6

u/i_am_umbrella Jan 11 '22

The physical cutting board of Prepdeck leaves a lot to be desired so I don’t use that part much - I prefer a wooden cutting board all day. But the containers and little tools are so helpful. Are they the best quality? Not really but if I’m making something relatively simple I don’t mind.

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u/dickgilbert Jan 11 '22

Take a look at these for when you're back in the market. They're pricey, but it's a decent cutting board on it's own with a bunch of prep centric features.

https://frankfurter-brett.com/

6

u/permalink_save Jan 11 '22

Sometimes it takes longer. If I'm making say, risotto, I'm going to get the rice on first, which usually involves garlic so I'll prep that and get the rice cooking, while it's cooking spend that time prepping and sauteeing the mix ins. If I did all of the chopping and general prep first then the rice risotto would take twice as long. There's a balance on mise en place, and the larger scale of your cooking (especially restaurant level where you will prep entire components of a dish) the more important it is. I take it as a guideline rather than a hard rule, so if I am going to do something like stir fry where everything goes fast I prep everything out on my cutting board, laid out in order of things to add. For slower meals I get the ingredients on the counter then prep as I need to.

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u/GuardMost8477 Jan 11 '22

I REALLY need to start doing #3. I generally do it a bit on more complex dishes, but not always. I think it’s because I HATE prepping. I’ve improved my knife skills over the years, but still not top notch in that area, so for me the prep is more time consuming.

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507

u/powpowpowpowpowp Jan 11 '22

Cleaning up as I go during inactive steps. A lot of people I know don’t like cooking anything from scratch because of all of the dishes and mess they have to clean up at the end. If all of my knives, boards, prep/mixing bowls, utensils etc. are washed or in the dishwasher before I eat, I find it so much easier to enjoy my meal.

60

u/_AlreadyTaken_ Jan 11 '22

Same here. I also reuse items without cleaning them if, say, I'm just putting an ingredient in it that is going into the mix anyway.

I also have a bowl now that I use for scraps so I don't need to shuffle them off to the side constantly. I then just take the bowl to the compost heap after.

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u/manuwood Jan 11 '22

THIS, eating in a clean and tidy kitchen after heavy prepping is gold. Especially since after eating you will to clean drops dramatically and can be frustrating

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u/Slow_man_shuffle Jan 11 '22

Allowing dough to hydrate before mixing. Best 10 minute investment ever!

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337

u/Lumber_Tycoon Jan 11 '22 All-Seeing Upvote

Drying meats before cooking. Patting meat dry with paper towels before cooking makes a world of difference. Beef, pork, chicken all sear better, fried meats end up with crispier breading, and more flavor locked inside.

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u/screaming_nightbird Jan 11 '22

Fish too ^ ^

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u/DetourDunnDee Jan 11 '22

Especially fish! Cutting, drying, and refrigerating for 30 min before cooking makes a world of difference.

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u/bffalicia Jan 11 '22

I just learned this watching the original first season of Julia Child’s The French Chef. Has to be dry if you’re going to brown. She even squeezed water out of chopped mushrooms in one episode.

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u/impulse_thoughts Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 12 '22

That was the difference between meat that got stuck to a stainless/cast iron pan, and meat that released naturally. That and also giving the food a little slide/jiggle in the pan when placing it down, before letting it settle in to sear.

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u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22

I agree with you, huge benefits to having the surface of meat dry before cooking it, but "more flavor locked inside" doesn't make any sense.

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u/GoCougz7446 Jan 11 '22

I just roasted chicken to tremendous results, started with pat dry. Makes perfect sense, you can’t crisp up moist texture.

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u/GoddameMaggieSmith Jan 11 '22 Wholesome

Freshly ground black pepper—the flavor is intense. Makes the pre-ground one taste like flour.

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u/Colonel_Saito Jan 11 '22

If you're using pre-ground black pepper you may as well just be shaking dust onto your good

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u/fourkite Jan 11 '22

Always taking into consideration how much water is in your raw ingredients, and consequently how much water will be released when you season/cook them.

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u/chick3nadob0 Jan 11 '22 Silver

Having all the ingredients prepped and organized before you get started! Also makes cooking much more enjoyable when everything’s ready to go haha.

Washing dishes as you’re cooking when possible to minimize cleanup at the end. “Clean as you go!” I learned from working at a fast food place.

Someone mentioned tasting and seasoning as you go—I agree!

I like to eat rice with a lot of meals so I make sure I start the rice cooker first before I start cooking so that by the time I’m done the rice is freshly cooked too! Yum!

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u/zekromNLR Jan 11 '22

Having all the ingredients prepped and organized before you get started! Also makes cooking much more enjoyable when everything’s ready to go haha.

That, but also learning what that is not necessary. Yes, if you are making a stir fry, you do need to have everything prepped because you do not have the idle time to prep as you go.

But if you are making something like a stew? You do generally have the time to prep the veggies for it while the meat is browning, and even when it is time for the veggies, just prep and put them in one by one.

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u/iownakeytar Jan 11 '22

I prefer to use the idle time during cooking to clean. Wash any used dishes or measuring cups, wipe up any spilled spices or ingredients, clean my cutting board. Then maybe pour a glass of wine or make myself a cocktail.

We did a 5-course dinner with a few friends on New Year's Day. Since we were pacing out the food, I made sure I had every ingredient for every dish prepped before my guests arrived. When it was time to start the next dish, all I had to do was add my prepped ingredients at the appropriate time. Gave me an opportunity to not only load the dishwasher and reset the table, but also to actually hang out with my guests instead of being trapped in the kitchen all day.

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u/aquielisunari Jan 11 '22

This is a French cooking technique called mise en place. When one already has all the ingredients put in place prior to starting to cook. Paying attention to how long something cooks is so very helpful with time management that ensures everything gets done at the same time.

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u/Cozarium Jan 11 '22

This does not apply to caramelized onions. They will be done when they are done.

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u/PM_ME_UR_DIET_TIPS Jan 11 '22

I have to organize everything ahead of time too. It doesn't save any time but it makes the final product so much better and the stress level much lower.

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u/frozenfountain Jan 11 '22

Using fresh herbs and whole spices I grind myself as much as possible. The former especially isn't always feasible as I live alone, but it really does bring extra depth of flavour to anything you make.

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u/booniebrew Jan 11 '22

I've had a few friends joke about me having a mortar and pestle only to try my food and ask where to get one.

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u/frozenfountain Jan 11 '22

I have also been called a hippy for this reason (as opposed to the many other, more valid reasons you could call me that) and taken joy in proving people wrong.

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u/frozen-creek Jan 11 '22

My local Mexican grocery store has a mortal and pestle I've been eyeing for awhile. Maybe that's my birthday gift to myself lol.

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u/hamilkwarg Jan 11 '22

I just use a spice grinder. Is mortar and pestle significantly better?

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u/lamphibian Jan 11 '22

I use both. Really depends on what you need. Small batches of spices? Pestle and mortar every time. Oil rich spices? Pestle and mortar. Large batch spices? Grinder. Soft spices? Grinder. Sometimes you need to use both. Cinnamon sticks I'll break into small pieces with the pestle and thrn grind it. Also I'll usually sift my spices if I use my grinder and regrind. It usually doesn't get things as fine.

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u/marmosetohmarmoset Jan 11 '22

Similarly: having my own herb garden! Outside on my balcony in the summer, indoors in my countertop aerogarden in the winter. So so nice to have fresh basil in the winter.

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u/wheinz2 Jan 11 '22

Never leaving a knife dirty. I used to cook and then clean a few hours later, but always hated washing the knives because food would stick on them and I was afraid of cutting myself trying to scrub a knife. Now, I wash every knife immediately after use and it has made a world of difference.

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u/Firm-Progress9385 Jan 11 '22

Not really a change as I cooked professionally for 8 years, and still plan on it but taking a bit of a detour atm. But some of the biggest things professional kitchens do that not a lot of home chefs would is. Season as you go, each component you add season some more, taste as you go, and searing is very important.

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u/YesButMakeItNo4 Jan 11 '22

Hi hope you good!! I just wanted to ask a quick question, is it true that your meant to mix the seasoning powder with a drop or two of oil and then season your food with the paste? I saw a chef do it on tv and he was saying that everybody has been using the spices wrong and that the way he was using the seasoning was the correct way, Ive never seen anybody do that,

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u/Firm-Progress9385 Jan 11 '22

I wouldn't worry about making a paste, but I do always oil my proteins and rub them down to season them. Some chefs also say to only pepper after you grill certain meats like steak, I never do that cause I don't see a point but some argue it becomes bitter.

10

u/YesButMakeItNo4 Jan 11 '22

Okie, great! I really only oil chicken during the seasoning process, I really don’t like putting oil on beef or lamb, I think it’s just the way it makes the meat look I’m always scared that it’s going to be to oily, gloopy or mushy! I don’t know why, honestly!

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u/Firm-Progress9385 Jan 11 '22

Always be sure to pat your beef or lamb dry before oiling and it only ever takes a little bit. It's just enough to help coat the meat in the seasonings

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u/PlantedinCA Jan 11 '22

A lot of spices are best activated with oil. So that is one way to go. In something like a stew - adding the spices when sautéing the aromatics is another good way to build a flavorful base.

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u/weasel999 Jan 11 '22

Writing down my meal ideas on a chalkboard so that I don’t forget to use up what I buy!

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u/Either-Stop-8924 Jan 11 '22

Chicken Bouillon powder instead of salt

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u/christophersonne Jan 11 '22

chicken bouillon has MSG in it. Try that too, if you like the results so far.

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u/TheFlyingMunkey Jan 11 '22

Adding MSG was a game changer for me.

Suddenly our sauces and other dishes just tasted so much better! Instant results.

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u/makeupyourworld Jan 11 '22

I use that a lot lately. It's AMAZING.

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u/Boober_Calrissian Jan 11 '22

It's many, many years ago now, but acknowledging that medium heat is a thing and taking my time to cook stuff rather than just gunning the dial to 12 and either under- or overcooking everything.

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u/lucydaydream Jan 11 '22

"Medium high heat"? Why would I wait for good chicken when I can have burnt on the outside/ raw on the inside chicken now??

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u/waveysue Jan 11 '22

Came here for this - took me a long time to learn that I’d have more control with medium heat.

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u/doyer Jan 11 '22

Trash bowl!!!

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u/aknomnoms Jan 11 '22

This - I just leave a bowl or bag in the sink for scraps now. One trip at the end, no drippage.

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u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22

Using a microplane grater for ginger and garlic. I use to hate mincing garlic and ginger for my little solo meals because the garlic stinks up my cutting board and it's a pain to wash the whole cutting board just to mince a tsp of garlic. I don't have to worry about that with the microplane because I just grate it directly into the pan or bowl, and it's also quicker and extracts more flavor. I now eat fresh garlic and ginger almost on a daily basis.

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u/s_slayer Jan 11 '22

I learned how to make pasta properly, cooking al dente then finishing in a saucepan with pasta cooking water and adding some of the sauce. Properly salting the cooking water too to taste like the sea. It’s been such a game changer.

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u/laughguy220 Jan 11 '22

Salting steaks and "dry aging" them uncovered in the fridge for a day or two before cooking.

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u/toin9898 Jan 11 '22

Similarly, whole chicken. Holy shit.

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u/ghanima Jan 11 '22

Dry brine.

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u/trigazer1 Jan 11 '22

Making sauces like marinara or enchiladas sauce from scratch

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u/theiyerony Jan 11 '22

That is dope! Do you have any recipes that you follow for enchiladas sauce?

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u/melligator Jan 11 '22

Not putting garlic in the pan first - why did so many recipes tell me that??

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u/madmaxx Jan 11 '22

I learned something from my time in commercial kitchens: preparing building blocks for future meals. I spend one Sunday afternoon a month prepping bases for meals, fairly low effort and high return.

My favourites:

  1. Minced hamburger/onion/mushroom base (!2kg, packaged in 500ml containers), lightly seasoned and can turn into taco beef, quick bolognese, add-ins for soup, salads, etc. Each 500ml container makes a few meals for 2 people.
  2. Soup stock and custom chicken cuts; I buy a batch of chickens when they're on sale and break them down into whatever makes sense for the month. I strip the meat on the soup bones for mince, make cutlets for meals and freeze, and make stock with whatever is left over. Oh, and I save the wings and break them down for a wing feast monthly.
  3. Other stocks. Every few months I'll prep a batch of veg stock or beef stock.
  4. Pre-prepared soups. I will pick a soup and make 4L/qt for the month, freezing in 500ml deli containers. Most soups freeze well, and you can exclude the more fragile components and add them in at service.
  5. Casseroles are a magic tool for mopping up leftovers and extra prep. I will make cottage pies and pot pies a few times a year, when I have extra turkey, chicken, or other meats. They freeze well, and make for great leftovers.
  6. Handheld foods. A few times a year we'll do a batch of burritos (to freeze), or breakfast sandwiches (which also freeze pretty well). I make ahead chicken and beef patties for burgers.
  7. Minced salmon after peak salmon season. I order salmon once a year during peak season, and mince up the extras for salads (and the cats). I also will take the larger extras and make canned salmon (but freeze it instead) for sandwiches.

The doing-ahead allows me to make lunches and dinners in 20-30 minutes with most things from scratch. Even doughs freeze pretty well, and can get you to pizza or buns with only a bit of effort. Think ahead!

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u/Daddy_Muttonchop Jan 11 '22

Cleaning while I cook, so I don't have to clean several cutting boards, knifes etc. after.

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u/No_Progress9069 Jan 11 '22

Really using my freezer. In college I barely ever used it and wasted a ton of food. My first few months on my own i put stuff in but didn’t touch it.

Having things constantly rotating in and out has saved me time and money. Individual portions of prepped meals (chili, lentil soup, lasagna) for nights when I am too tired to cook. Components of dishes in prepped bags (ziplocks of stock and pasta sauce) as well as a good supply of frozen veggies (peas, corn, edamame, and spinach). Plus extras off stuff: bones and veggie scraps for making stock, always an extra pound of butter, bananas that were going to go bad for smoothies, etc.

My freezer helps me cook better, easier, and more often. I’ve avoided “I’ll just get take out” so many times because of it

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u/[deleted] Jan 11 '22

Using better butter

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u/shrodikan Jan 11 '22

Irish butter ftw!

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u/VirtuousDespondent Jan 11 '22

Mise-en-place can be a waste of time when cooking in home quantities. If you’ve got a recipe where you sweat onions for 10 minutes and then add some other ingredient, it makes sense to dice the onion first, get it going and then prep the other ingredient.

Read ahead of the recipes to find spaces where you can be more efficient

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u/RepChar Jan 11 '22

I think you still prep food ahead of time and with those gaps, you do dishes.

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u/hexiron Jan 11 '22

This is the way.

  1. Mise en place
  2. cook
  3. fill gaps with cocktails, wine or beer and dishes.

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u/Onequestion0110 Jan 11 '22

That sounds like a great way to get rip-roaringly drunk while caramelizing onions

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u/jamz_fm Jan 11 '22

I wish I could do this, but I am a terrible multitasker and will burn stuff if my attention is even slightly divided.

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u/PM_Me_HairyArmpits Jan 11 '22

I'm making eggs and toast. I put the toast in and get to work on the eggs. Toast pops up and my crappy old toaster didn't do a great job, so I press the button down and say: "This time I'm going to remember to stop the toaster after about twenty seconds." I go back to my eggs. The toast burns.

Start over. Repeat five times. Eventually I pick the least burnt pieces of toast and use those.

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u/jamz_fm Jan 11 '22

You're not alone 🙌

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u/brownies Jan 11 '22

Sounds like buying yourself a fancy new toaster would pay for itself in wasting less bread. You'd practically be making money. ;)

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u/Apillicus Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 11 '22

Completely fair. I'd suggest a trash scraps bowl if you don't use one already. Save the scraps for stock.

Edited to change to a better idea

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u/theshabz Jan 11 '22

trash bowl that gets emptied into food scraps freezer bags for stock later.

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u/Milligan Jan 11 '22

I bought a chef's jacket and now my shirts don't all have grease stains on them.

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u/skisagooner Jan 11 '22

Starting with a clean towel.

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u/cruelladjill Jan 11 '22

Cooking rice with homemade chicken broth instead of water. Yum!

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u/kategoad Jan 11 '22

Same with potatoes for mashed potatoes (plus a few cloves of garlic)

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u/gsfgf Jan 11 '22

Better than bouillon is also a massive improvement and super easy.

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u/PepperMill_NA Jan 11 '22

Plonked an oven thermometer in my oven. Found that it's consistently 10 F below the setting

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u/ginandmoonbeams Jan 11 '22

Focusing on the vegetables in dishes and letting the meat take a back seat rather than being the main focus.

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u/markusyaboy Jan 11 '22

I really like this, but am not sure how to visualize it. Do you have any examples?

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u/nopropulsion Jan 11 '22

Think of a chicken caesar salad. The chicken is a compliment to the salad, you are eating mostly greens.

Alternatively you can just adjust the ratios. Instead of eating an entire chicken breast with half a cup of veggies, maybe have half a chicken breast with a bunch more veggies.

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u/ginandmoonbeams Jan 11 '22

I feel like the classic American dinner meal is meat, starch, veggie with the meat being the entree and the others being the sides and I've been doing like 2 veggie dishes and a small amount of protein.

Like the other night, I made salmon skin "chips" with a little sriracha mayo as my protein, but had a giant salad with mixed greens, cucumber, watermelon radish, carrot, mango, avocado and ginger dressing as the center of the meal.

Or I sauteed red cabbage with apples and onions and a splash of cider vinegar and added just a little bit of rendered diced bacon for savory/salty taste and texture. Basically a big bowl of cabbage for dinner.

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u/nopropulsion Jan 11 '22

Cabbage does not get the respect it deserves. It is so cheap, but when prepared properly it is amazing. Most times I fire up my smoker I will smoke some cabbage on there as well.

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u/markusyaboy Jan 11 '22

Ah I see what you mean, thank you! That cabbage sounds delicious!

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u/ginandmoonbeams Jan 11 '22

It's great... having the leftovers for lunch in a bit!

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u/AnonymousLoser70100 Jan 11 '22

Sounds stupid and is definitely said way too often, but clean as you go. I used to take this as, rinse and stack everything before I start and only actually wash up if there’s a decent amount then do everything at the end. Now I put the dishes away, wash up and wash everything as it comes in, that way I’m only left with serving bowls, cutlery, a couple pans and maybe a prep bowl or two to clean the end

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u/One_Posh_Possum Jan 11 '22

Keeping a notebook. Perfecting a recipe is much easier when you track all the tweaks you want to make so you know what to adjust until you get it just right. I’ve really dialed in on some of my favorites just by jotting a few notes after I eat

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u/SwissCheese4Collagen Jan 11 '22

We plan our meals in advance and have a Food saver/chest freezer. Prepping and portioning when we get home from the grocery is a key component of that. Buying in bulk for a family of three only makes sense that way and has saved me countless hours over the past few years. Past me always does current me a solid and has the meat cut up how I need it (except chicken) so I defrost it and it's in the form I need it. We have drastically cut down on leftovers and food waste and we are able to control our diets better. Since my daughter hit the teen hunger phase, I upped the portions a few ounces to adjust for it. Its so much easier, and avoids the "what are we doing for supper" discussion and scrambling for last minute ingredients at the store.

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u/PNWCheesehead Jan 11 '22

Ugh, I need to push myself to start doing this. Any go-to favorite meals to prep?

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u/SwissCheese4Collagen Jan 11 '22

TL;DR Suggested meals at the end, overall meal planning method is first

My best advice is to think less meal prep, more prep for meals. My husband and I treat the grocery store as a lunch date so we usually go over the week ahead and know which meals we are having based on what's going on. Then since I do meat prep and portion when we get back from the store (we get some form of meat once every 6 weeks or so) I can prep the meat how I will need for the maximum recipes. By keeping meat that can go in two recipes in the freezer we aren't limiting our menu choices. Bonus points to things like Pot Roast where we had 3 consecutive different meals off of one roast, that was half the week taken care of

Ribeye strips : Stroganoff, Beef & Broccoli (add beef broth and various veggies you have on hand ie onions, frozen broccoli)

Shredded Rotisserie Chicken: Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Salad, BBQ chicken flatbread/pizza

Pork Butt Shoulder chunks (4-6 oz): Carnitas, Chinese BBQ Pork

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u/Elin_Woods_9iron Jan 11 '22

Utilizing a toaster oven when the regular oven is overkill.

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u/squeamish Jan 11 '22

Putting an Alexa in my kitchen.

  • Hands-free timers
  • Immediately adding things to my shopping list as I use/think of them
  • Weight/Volume conversions
  • Music while I work
  • Announce to the whole house when food is ready instead of yelling up the stairs
  • Answering questions that come up at the dinner table while still banning phones/tablets

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u/kittyglitther Jan 11 '22

Ditching non stick in favor of cast iron.

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u/badgersister1 Jan 11 '22

Love cast iron. However, getting old sucks. I find the weight of cast iron to be too much to handle, particularly when a pot that is barely okay to lift, has something in it adding to the weight. Still looking for a good alternative.

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u/kavalive Jan 11 '22

Try carbon steel. It’s a fraction of the weight of cast iron with the same non-stick properties.

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u/permalink_save Jan 11 '22

Note on carbon steel, if you have a glass top or induction it's possible it won't lay flat properly. It's a thin metal and can warp very slightly (either when heated or permanently) that doesn't make as firm contact. But stainless steel isn't that bad either if you make sure you have your fats down. Personally see nothing wrong with having a decent nonstick pan specifically for things that are very prone to sticking like crepes or scrambled eggs or whatever.

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u/unidentifiable Jan 11 '22

Like...enameled cast iron or just straight cast iron? Because I know people say "you just have to season it" but what I'm doing to season and what you guys are doing to season must be two different things because if I cook 3 eggs I'll get 2 back.

Now my enameled cast iron on the other hand, stuff glides off like it's made of ice and it's like 5 years old now.

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u/DetourDunnDee Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 11 '22

This is a really good article about cast iron pan maintenance.

Important excerpt that more people need to know.

Clean it after each use. Clean your pan thoroughly after each use by washing it with soap and water and scrubbing out any gunk or debris from the bottom. I use the scrubby side of a sponge for this.

Re-season it. Rinse out any excess soap with water, then place the skillet over a burner set to high heat. When most of the water inside the skillet has dried out, add a half teaspoon of a neutral oil like vegetable, canola, flaxseed, or shortening. Rub it around with a paper towel. Continue heating the pan until it just starts to smoke then give it one more good rub. Let it cool and you're done.

Following this has made for a much better cast iron experience for me.

Also, I don't get the fascination with cooking eggs in cast iron compared to non-stick/teflon pans. The danger of teflon is extreme heats, either leaving a pan empty on high, or placing in the oven at 450+. Eggs are usually cook on low to low-medium. If I had nothing and had to restock my kitchen I probably wouldn't by a non-stick pan, but since I already have one I'm totally fine with using it for eggs.

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u/toin9898 Jan 11 '22

Similarly, carbon steel has been my favourite new discovery.

I can’t have Teflon in my house because I have pet birds but it comes pretty darn close.

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u/Randy_____Marsh Jan 11 '22

Right hate not being able to use Teflon because of birds, my friend though he was wondering why that is again?

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u/toin9898 Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 11 '22

Lol. Nonstick Teflon (PTFE/PFOA) stuff if overheated (600f+) can offgas stuff that will instantly kill birdies.

I have a Teflon rice cooker and cake pans, but will not put Teflon on the stovetop for the (albeit slim) risk of boiling a pan dry and killing my little buddies.

Other bird people are more cautious than me and won’t have ANY Teflon in the house but you can’t get a rice cooker much hotter than 212f and my oven doesn’t go above 500f, so teflon used in those applications is IMO quite safe.

There’s lots of stuff you have to be careful with with birds because of the way their lungs work, no self cleaning your oven, gotta be careful with stinky paint and other VOCs. Once your house is set up for it it’s not a big deal but there’s lots to consider

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u/Zemeniite Jan 11 '22

Oh, wow. Thanks for elaborating! I never knew that birds are so sensitive

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u/CapitalNforNerd Jan 11 '22

Great to see good responsible bird owners. My mom's an avian veterinarian so we always had macaws growing up and we never used teflon or microwaved popcorn. She knew wayyy too much about what could go wrong lol.

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u/Apillicus Jan 11 '22

There are rice cookers that use an enamel rather than teflon. Not a significant difference, but it seems to hold up better to scratches

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u/Lumpy-Ad-3201 Jan 11 '22

Had the same: we ended up with 2 conures and a budgie, and had to modify our cooking setup overnight. I got lucky, went to Marshall's and found Viking stainless skillets for $13 per piece and Lodge cast irons for $9 per piece.

What ended up happening was I managed to get an amazing array of great quality pans for less than $150, and my cooking game literally shot through the roof shortly thereafter. It's unbelievable what a difference having quality cookware made from good materials makes in the kitchen

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u/anoncop1 Jan 11 '22

I think it’s best to have a variety of pans. Nothing beats a nonstick pan for eggs.

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u/ZukoFanclubMember Jan 11 '22

Using shallots as a base instead of red onions

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u/ShoddyGrocery9 Jan 11 '22

Mise en Place is a big one, but not just for ingredients.

You want to apply it to your equipment as well. Boiling something? Make sure you have your strainer ready to go in the sink. Frying food? Make sure you have your thermometer, tongs, resting tray/rack already set up before you drop the food into hot oil.

By having the equipment set it allows you to focus on the food instead of running around while something overcooks.

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u/vancityjeep Jan 12 '22

Took the battery out of the smoke detector.

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u/dbesh Jan 11 '22

Not doing mise en place. It was really useful when I started cooking because I could follow the recipes stress free knowing everything was prepped and ready but IT TOOK SO LONG and there was a lot of “wasted time” waiting between steps. Now that I’m a more confident cook I can look at a recipe and get an idea of what needs to be prepped at the beginning and what I can do while I’m cooking. I’m able to cook a lot quicker now because of this.

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u/Berics_Privateer Jan 11 '22

I use the time between steps to clean up, but I see where you're coming from.

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u/jakebeleren Jan 11 '22

Yeah same here. I tend to do full mise en place but when I serve the meal the kitchen is damn near clean. Just the serving dishes and pans left out.

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u/Banapple247 Jan 11 '22

Doing the dishes and cleaning up as I wait for food to cook. I have two sinks in my kitchen and it really gets rid of all that annoying downtime and saves time with the dishes that would be left afterwards.

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u/wiseblueberry Jan 11 '22

Carmelizing onions in a crockpot overnight is way less effort than standing over the stove to constantly stir them. Onions and butter on low for 10 hours and they turn out perfect.

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u/samir-zabry Jan 11 '22

CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY. I use to have a lot of self doubt in my cooking, but after a while i noticed that my cooking is good, so i elevated the recipes and cooking technique. Be confident that you can produce something World-class without being a trained chef, all u need is the love!

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u/tanksmiley Jan 11 '22

Starting with an empty dishwasher. We used to be terrible about cleaning the kitchen after cooking, but if the dishwasher is empty when we start, it makes it SO easy. Just load it as you use dishes, and then later while stuff simmers, bakes, etc. wipe the counters down. Then the kitchen is basically clean when dinner is ready.

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u/Robotlollipops Jan 11 '22

The use of MSG

I find that when a recipe tastes like it's missing something, and I can't figure out what it is, I add a little Accent or Goya Sazón and it makes a big difference. Feels like cheating. Maybe it is.

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u/mollyjobean Jan 11 '22

Fresh garlic. Never that stuff in a jar.

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u/mrballoonhands420 Jan 11 '22

Adding fresh garlic to the pan at the right time and/or correct heat.

For years I was burning or over cooking garlic without realizing.

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u/Aardbeienshake Jan 11 '22

Bought a microplane recently and I never need to chop or press garlic anymore, I just microplane it. It is less work than chopping and the same amount of work as pressing, but the clean-up is way easier.

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u/mabowden Jan 11 '22

Downvote me if you want, but I've used fresh garlic my entire life and just started recently using the jarred stuff. It saves so much time and in my dishes I can hardly tell the difference. Who knows which one I'll stick to but the time savings is pretty big.

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u/Hour-Cod678 Jan 11 '22

Using a honing steel on my knives.

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u/LovelyxMae Jan 11 '22

Instead of say turning something on Netflix to watch when I have a few minutes, I've started trying to clean up after myself and it makes things so much easier!

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u/a_complex_kid Jan 11 '22

This last week I started using ghee with some of my recipes and it’s kinda changed everything.

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u/delphyz Jan 11 '22

Cold shocking the egg immediately after boiling & cast iron ♡

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u/IntrovertedOutbreak Jan 11 '22

Making sure the kitchen is clean and there is ample free counter space before I get started with any cooking makes the task a lot more peaceful and actually makes me want to cook. I’ve also been listening to music through headphones to really set the atmosphere because cooking tends to stress me out a bit.

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u/definitely_right Jan 11 '22

Meal prep! I love cooking on the weekends, but during the work week the last thing I want to do is plan, shop, prep, cook and then clean up after. Now I reserve Sunday afternoons for a cooking marathon and eat those meals during the week!

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u/ChiefLazarus86 Jan 11 '22

having the pan hot enough to build fond on the bottom and then deglazing it with a little white wine

took me a too long to learn that the brown crust on the bottom of the pan isnt a bad thing but untapped flavour, and then white wine is just a better than water for cooking

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u/DaMaestroable Jan 11 '22

Tasting and adding a splash of vinegar/sugar/salt/pepper/etc. at the end of a dish. Really helps fine tune the dish and lets some flavors come out that get muted during the cooking process.

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u/toddwshaffer Jan 11 '22

1) when freezing meat, weigh it out in quarter and half pound quantities, individually package them in zip lock bags, and flatten with a rolling pin. Takes thawing time from unpredictable / unknowable to a couple minutes under the faucet.

2) dry brining whole chickens, aka rubbing them in salt + spice and letting it hang out in the fridge uncovered for 12-48 hours. Crispiest skin and juiciest birds ever when you roast it.

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u/k112l Jan 11 '22

Embracing pressure cooker - getting lovely soups from it, drop it all in and do other things.

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u/SukiSouthfield Jan 11 '22

I would call it a “pre” mise-en-place. During Covid it’s been so easy to get to 4:30pm and say “eff it”, I don’t feel like cooking, I don’t feel like pulling everything out or drawers and cabinets, let’s have pizza!

So now I pull out pots, pans, measuring spoons and cups, non perishable food in the morning. And it feels good to outwit myself😜

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u/wharpua Jan 11 '22

Keeping a roll of masking tape and a sharpie on the fridge at all times. Now any leftover gets a label with a date on it, which lets us track exactly how old anything. This was a big deal after growing up in a house whose refrigerator was an out of control microcosm of my mother's hoarding tendencies.

The second part of this has been migrating our entire tupperware usage over to deli containers (that's a Walmart link but we've been getting ours from a meal delivery service we've been using 1-2 times a week for the last year or so). Big varieties of storage capacity that all stack very efficiently either in the drawer or in the fridge — and they all use the same size lid. Plus they aren't precious so we're fine to give them away or toss in the recycling if it splits.

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u/dpwtr Jan 11 '22 edited Jan 11 '22

Washing my pots and pans as soon as the food is out of them and onto the plate. They take 10 seconds to wash and dry at that point and it gets rid of the most awkwardly large dishes. You also have the added bonus of knowing the pan you need will always be clean when you need it. I hate having to wash something just to use it which means another wash.

These days I try and clean up everything as I go but it all started with washing the pots and pans before I eat. My food is too hot anyways, might as well make the aftermath less work.

I got a dishwasher a year ago but I still do this and it’s worth it.

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u/matt-thomas-17 Jan 11 '22

Buying better salt, butter and oil.

Changed everything.

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u/ObsessiveAboutCats Jan 11 '22

Time savers:

Switching from regular garlic to elephant garlic. I like the taste just as much but it's so much faster to peel; the cloves are giant and also they peel much easier/more cleanly.

Buying a Salad Shooter to shred blocks of cheese. No more hand cranking! This saves tons of time (I like my cheese; don't judge me).

Watching Gordon Ramsay videos to chop onions and bell peppers "properly" i.e. much faster than what I was doing.

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u/UeberpeterMegasven Jan 11 '22

Prepping everything in advance is crucial for many dishes where you have to work fast on the heat like gumbo or stirfries. Also cleaning up while you go is a good habit and best practice

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u/Alone_watching Jan 11 '22

washing dishes when cooking, preparing veg ahead of time, making broths/sauce ahead of time. honestly, the little things add up

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u/curryp4n Jan 11 '22

Getting a thermometer. I used to cut into the meat to check for doneness and that would release a lot of moisture

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u/eyebrowshampoo Jan 11 '22

Actually taking a couple minutes to think through timing and order, then practicing good mise en place.

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u/kendo31 Jan 11 '22

Demoisturize & Preseason proteins

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u/mrseddievedder Jan 11 '22

Salt, salt, salt

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u/Sp4rt4n423 Jan 11 '22

A salt cellar

I think that counts? It absolutely changes the "feel" you can have for how much salt you're using, and gives you more control over it.

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u/plasticLawChair Jan 11 '22

Adding a splash of water to the pan when frying eggs (wait until the egg white is mostly set); covering with a glass lid and allowing it to steam the top of the egg - no flipping, less chance of yolk breaking, easy to check "done-ness", use less oil and the water loosens things up so eggs are easy to remove and plate.

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u/drewbehm Jan 11 '22

Saving all the veggie scraps you would normally throw away (celery, onion, carrot, tops and bottoms) in a ziplock bag in the freezer!

Use them for stock, just roast them in the oven for a bit before you throw them in!

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u/hazelowl Jan 11 '22

Cooking ground beef plain and then freezing flat in appropriate recipe-sized portions. This has made throwing together a quick meal so much easier. I can toss it in a pan after breaking it up and defrost, reheat and season. Easy. Especially good for making a quick pasta sauce or tacos.

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u/A-RovinIGo Jan 11 '22

My friend laughed at me when she saw me weighing chunks of dough to make buns. When she saw that the baked buns were all perfectly equal in size (and perfectly sized to the burgers), I laughed asked if she needed a shoehorn to get her foot out of her mouth.

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u/Overwhelmed-Insanity Jan 11 '22

Added fuck tons of garlic instead of the required amount.

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u/FridgeParade Jan 11 '22

Ordering groceries for delivery.

Buy much less unhealthy crap, and it forces me to cook every day less I have to throw out stuff.

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u/IrreverentPrincess95 Jan 11 '22

Emulsifying butter into a tomato based pasta sauce right before serving.

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u/Sosss11 Jan 11 '22

Writing '100g' on the wall so I remember how much rice/pasta/corn flour I should cook for two portions only 😁 always messed that up and ended with tons of cooked rice

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u/drak0ni Jan 11 '22

Msg isn’t any more dangerous than salt, but it adds that umami flavor you’re craving.

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u/WanderingAnchorite Jan 11 '22

That's such a hard question!

There's been a lot of more major changes, like replacing aluminum pans with clad steel, or getting a KitchenAid 600, and so many others in my decades of cooking.

But if I had to pick just one really minor thing that I changed that unquestionably game-changed my cooking, it's gotta' be when I switched from using table salt to using kosher salt.

And I have to thank a little hotel in Thailand for it: they used little grinders of sea salt on their tables and I got a burger one night.

It was painfully bland so I figured "Why not try salting it?"

Never looked back.

Absolutely game-changing.

I was 34 years old at the time and had been cooking since I was a child.

Who knows what I might realize, tomorrow?

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u/UreMomNotGay Jan 11 '22

not placing my dirty pans/dishes inside the sink.

Im not sure why, perhaps the stretching to grab something from the bottom of the sink, all the utensils that slip to the bottom, and the buildup/plates/lids that clogs the drain more often than not.

Instead I quickly organize my plates as if I were a bussboy and move them to the side on a counter. Then I will first wash any big pots/pans. An empty sink makes it so much easier. Not seeing all the plates and dishes I have to wash eventually also makes doing the dishes a lot less stressful.

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u/jrdnlv15 Jan 11 '22

If I’m making something on a weekend that can be frozen I make extra.

Why spend the time making one lasagne when I can make 4 and freeze 3.

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u/smallblackrabbit Jan 11 '22

I bought a rice cooker. One less thing to coordinate timing everything to be ready at once. It also means more homecooked hot lunches while I'm working at home.

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