Who does not love a cooking session free of stress and problems?
Everybody long for stress free cooking, especially when it comes to cooking for large crowds. Here are simple tips and tools to keep your cooking stress free.
How to achieve stress free cooking
In order to remove stress from your kitchen, you must have the proper tools. Like a doctor extracting an irritating metal shard from a wounded leg, you must have the right types of tools and understand how to use them to take away the pain and suffering that stress can cause. You'll find also tips to de-stress meal preparation. By following some, or all, of these simple tricks, you can distress your cooking. Grab your knife and cutting board; flip on some tunes and start whipping up a storm of scrumptious goodies.
10 tips to stress free cooking
Plan ahead - It is important to have a plan ahead of time, especially if you are cooking for a large group. Planning ahead keeps you from having to make split-second decisions when you are supposed to be cooking.
Prep ahead - Once you have your plan, it is important to begin to prep as soon as possible. This can be done several days in advance. For instance, if you have to dice a bunch of vegetables, you can probably get that done two to three days in advance and store them for use. Same with making stock or broth; make it a week in advance and freeze for use. Prior prep work makes for a smooth cooking day.
Don't be overly ambitious - Just because you think you can pull off a full five course professional meal with one oven and a dog that eats crumbs off the floor, doesn't mean you need to show off your skills for the first time with 30 hungry people waiting. Keep your meals simple yet elegant and not only will your stress levels be down, but so will the stomach growling of your family and friends.
Time plan - One of the hardest things to accomplish is getting everything ready on time so it comes out hot, all at once. This is a simple thing to figure out, but many people don't take the time to think about this ahead of time. Take a look at what you need to cook, how you are going to cook it, (i.e. stove, oven, crock pot) and how long it takes to cook. Once you have those figures, just walk back from the time you are supposed to have company in order to figure out when you need to put stuff on or take it off.
Use simple recipes - Using one pot, or simple recipes that do not call for a mess, can keep your life simple as peach cobbler (which also uses one pan). The fewer pans you use, the better off you will be. There will be less to clean up and less you need to worry about finishing at the same time.
Clean as you go - Not every recipe calls for single pan usage, so if you have to dirty more than one pan, cleaning as you go will reduce stress big time. Keeping your area clean is a major stress reducer, especially once the food is cooked and ready.
Music - Listening to music is another great way to take the stress out of the kitchen. Studies have shown that music actually helps to calm the system and remove stress.
Reduce movements - While music might take the mental stress out of the picture, reducing your movements will help to take the physical stress off. Grab a trash bowl to put on your counter and throw everything in there so you are not walking back and forth to the trashcan. Organize your kitchen to help you find things quickly and lower the stress level every time you don't move.
Delegate - Stress usually happens because you have too much stuff to do and not enough time to do it. If you have any children, now would be a good time to delegate and distress. Having some people to help you out can reduce stress quickly and efficiently.
Clean out your fridge ahead of time - Nothing is more stressful than ending a fantastic meal, only to find out there is no room in your fridge for the leftovers. Having a clean fridge will help reduce the after-party stress. A clean fridge mans less work for you and less chaos trying to keep the food from spoiling.
5 tools for stress free cooking
While the tools to de-stress your kitchen may be a little unorthodox in a few areas, they are still absolutely necessary to organize, prepare and execute great meals.
Have close to you post-it notes, a timer, sharp knives, a planned menum music radio or otherwise.
These tools work
With your new-found focusing abilities, your plan, a precise blade, something to ding at you and a wall covered with yellow sticky paper, you are now ready to have a stress free cooking experience. While these aren't your typical tools, give them a try and see how well they work for you; feel free to adapt them and alter them to fit your needs and ability. Most importantly, get in the kitchen and start cooking for your friends and family because great relationships and fantastic conversation are built at the dinner table.
Post it notes
Yes, your little yellow semi-sticky friends should be kept on hand at all time in the kitchen. These little notes make it easy to write down lists of groceries or used-up materials, cooking times, recipes and even reminders that the pumpkin pie in the oven should not begin to smell and look like a rubber tire on hot pavement.
The ding lets you know it is done so you don't have to worry about counting it out on your fingers and toes, because let's be honest, how many foods do you know that only cook in the oven for twenty minutes? It is actually good practice to have a clock and a couple of timers that, yes, you can post-it-note what they are timing.
An essential part of a stress free kitchen. A dull knife makes chopping almost three times as long, plus you cannot do intricate work with a dull knife. We all know you love to carve swans into the rinds of cantaloupes, but with a dull knife, it seems to look more like a pigeon. Keeping your tomatoes in pristine shape and you bread in actual slices will definitely help keep the stress down because you won't have to repeat anything.
Plan / menu
Having a plan or a menu handy for what you are going to prepare will make life a lot easier. With your plan, you can determine when things need to go on to the stove or come out of the oven. When you are just winging it, there is a higher chance you will forget an essential part of your meal and the rest will have to sit and get cold while you correct your mistake. Make a plan and save yourself some stress.
Yes, I said it. A radio probably the most important tool you will ever have in your stress-free kitchen. By radio, I mean CD player, iPod, Walkman, smart phone or music streaming device; whatever you have that makes the noises you like to jam out to. Music has been shown to reduce stress and when combined with another task, like test taking or cooking, for that matter, you become more focused on the task you are doing.