Updated: Nov 3, 2018
Do you watch the Food Network thinking "I could totally do that" - only to attempt it, fail miserably, and end up discouraged and unmotivated to get into the kitchen again?
Yeah, I feel you on that...
Long before I raised my own meats - I switched from eating fat - err, fast - food all the time to eating home cooked meals, and I found myself frustrated, like, a lot.
It is so easy to marinate and grill some chicken breast for dinner, but you can't just eat roasted chicken, or a grilled pork chop, or a steak for dinner (well, Hubster probably could, but that's another blog post)...
I mean - for us, the meat in our meal is certainly the star of the show, but it's not the whole show. You have to do all of this other prep work in order to make the sides that go along with it.
Then, one day, one of the celebrity chefs mentioned that she was keeping he interns chopping in the back busy that day.
We've been bamboozled y'all!
Apparently the trick to making flawless 15 minute meals at home and making it look easy is having an army of assistants to do all the prep and clean up.
That would be nice, wouldn't it? Then all you'd have to do is throw your food into a bowl and turn on the oven... but I live in the real world.
And what's with the "life hack" websites?
I saw one hack that said "you can dry out your herbs in the microwave"
Yeah, because I have time to grow my own herbs... I'm on a life hack website for a reason. These kinds of posts just make me feel inadequate that I still use already dried herbs from a jar.
So today I just wanted to share with you my 3 favorite kitchen hacks for real life.
Hack 1: Learn how to use a knife.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive.
You're reading this thinking, "Hacks are supposed to save you time and/or money. So why are you telling me to take up learning a new skill?"
Here's the deal... Up to 50% of the chore of cooking is the clean up.
As a matter of fact, today when I'm watching the Food Network, and a chef refers to their meal as "easy", I judge for myself based on the number of dishes they dirty in the process.
You get 3 pots Bobby - that's it - if I have to pull out 7 sauce pans for brunch, we're going to end up at IHOP.
And probably 50% of the "gadgets" in your kitchen, could probably be replaced with a knife.
Potato peeler - knife.
Apple peeler - Knife.
15 different sized food processors and attachments? - KNIFE.
My mom just moved in with us, and in unpacking her kitchen stuff, we pulled out a Medieval looking contraption that she told me is a "pineapple cutter" - KNIFE, Ma!
Cutting out the extra stuff, cuts out SO MANY DISHES... And saves so much time in the long run. Plus - it de-clutters your cabinets, so no more taking an extra 5 to put everything back after it falls out when you open the door (Bonus win!).
Hack 2: "Starter stuff"
I used to work with this really cool dude named Alex. Alex was from Brazil, and he told me of this trick his mother did that saved her a TON of time.
She made this concoction that he called "starter stuff"
She would throw some olive oil, several cloves of garlic, a couple of onions, and some salt into a food processor and blended it up. The oil preserves everything in it, so you can make enough to last you up to 30 days in the fridge!
(See Hack 1: I just use a knife to chop everything up - but the concept is the same.)
Then she'd store it in a jar and just pull out a spoonful or two as needed when she was cooking, because almost every recipe starts with this same base of ingredients.
That little trick has saved me a TON of time chopping onions and garlic up every single day. (I know you're reading this from Oregon now - so thanks, Alex!)
Bonus hack: I'll do all my chopping for the week at one time and just store my vegetables for each meal in a bowl together.
Tuesday's potatoes and peppers for your pasture raised spatchcock chicken roast? Done, just dump the bowl, give it a quick rinse (Don't judge me, I mean, how dirty could a container of potatoes and peppers really even be?) and throw the leftovers right back into it.
Important safety tip: When doing bulk chopping - if you're doing meats as well, remember to do your vegetables first, and your meats last, so that you avoid cross contamination. Wash any bowl containing raw meats thoroughly before putting cooked foods back into it.
You can apply this logic to a number of other ingredients in your kitchen as well!
Another example: I rarely ever just grate the amount of cheese that I need for a recipe. I'll grate the whole block into a bowl and have cheese ready to go for several weeks.
Hack 3: Meal prep just your sides.
Meal prepping can be daunting. Nobody wants to give up their entire Sunday to make 6 different meals... plus if your Hubster is anything like mine - he doesn't care much for "leftovers".
In our house, we've come up with a compromise. I meal prep just the sides. I don't set a day for it, just whenever we're out of sides, and I'm cooking, I'll just commit to it.
It's easy! Just pick two or three side dishes, and make enough for the entire week.
What'd you choose...
... potatoes?... corn?... spinach?... asparagus?
Meal prepping your sides for the entire week allows you to spend just 15-30 extra minutes ONE day to avoid spending 15-30 minutes EVERY day preparing these vegetables.
And, since I'm going to eat it several times, I feel better about making a side dish worthy of pairing with my grass fed sirloin steaks - like herb roasted red potatoes or an elote style corn salad - instead of just dumping potato flakes or macaroni out of a box.
Start integrating these hacks into your routine.
And the next time you decide to try a new pastured ham steak recipe at home (join the farm newsletter and get some ideas straight to your inbox!) - you might find yourself doing so with a little more confidence.
... you won't have to cry over chopping your onion.
... since your sides are already done, so you'll actually get that 15 minute meal done in 10 minutes.
... you'll have far fewer dishes to wash afterward.
Which one of these hacks do you think you'll try first? Tell us in the comments!
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