Cooking in the kitchen can be sticky business – quite literally. You need to have all the right ingredients, you need to satisfy all sorts of tastebuds and most of all, you need to make sure you don’t forget whatever is cooking in the oven! Some are born with a whisk and mixing bowl in hand, but for the rest of us who aren’t so chef-savvy, here are some handy hints you all came up with to make your cooking experiences that little bit easier.
1. Preparation, preparation, preparation!
The number one tip from all of you was to make sure you prepared in advance, whether that meant laying out all your ingredients beforehand or even remembering to pre-heat the oven.
2. Cook twice as much.
Making twice as much for dinner means you can freeze the leftovers and have them ready to go for the next night. Saves both time and on those electricity bills!
3. Make simple weekly meal plans.
On Sunday evening, plan out some simple meals your family can enjoy during the week. It means you avoid stress and resorting to takeaway on weeknights.
4. Take a helping hand.
Whilst one woman was adamant that her husband should be kept out of the kitchen, most of you agreed that getting your partner and kids involved in the kitchen helped to speed things up and was an enjoyable time for the family together.
5. Grease-proof paper protection.
By lining your trays when cooking, you avoid much of the scrubbing required when washing up.
6. Clean as you go.
By making sure you throw out the eggshell once you’ve cracked an egg and cleaning down the flour from the kitchen bench after stirring a cake mix, you avoid having to face one disaster of a mess when you’re done.
7. Find a staple pot mix recipe.
All you have to do is a bit of chopping before you can throw it all together and enjoy a glass of red in front of the television.
8. Invest in multi-use equipment.
Make the most of your money and save space in the kitchen cupboard by choosing equipment that caters for a variety of purposes.
9. Don’t underestimate the cheese toastie.
Sure, toasted sandwiches aren’t the best things to be eating all the time, but they sure beat takeaway. Spice your average toastie up a bit by adding ingredients like mushroom and capsicum.
10. Save the tears.
By leaving onions in their skins whilst roasting, it’s easy to squeeze them out once cooked and it saves not only time, but the dreaded onion-associated tears.
11. Peel away.
Peeling a tomato can be fiddly, but by immersing your tomatoes in hot water for one minute and then throwing in some ice, the skins peel right away.
Get used to your good friend the grater. Not only reserved for cheese, you can grate all types of ingredients, like zucchini, pumpkin and butter, making them cook faster.
13. Roll out those lumps.
Throw dry ingredients together in a plastic bag to mix together thoroughly. A rolling pin comes in handy when you want to get rid of any lumps.
14. Hasten the roast.
By simply microwaving hard vegies like potatoes and pumpkin for five to eight minutes before putting them in the oven, a lot of time is saved roasting them in the oven.
15. Smooth sailing.
When you’re in a rush to get to work in the morning, it’s sometimes easy to forget about breakfast. Being the first thing you eat to start the day however, it’s important to make sure you have something to keep you going. This is where smoothies come in – they’re quick to make, you can add whatever ingredients you like and best of all, they’re filling.
16. Cookie-mamma, not cookie-monster.
If you double the amount of cookie mix, you can freeze one half of the dough in the shape of a log so it’s ready to be sliced and cooked for quick school snacks.
17. Get on your gardening gloves.
Growing an herb patch means it’s a whole lot easier to source your own herbs than having to go to the shops. And what can beat the satisfaction of knowing you’ve used home-grown ingredients?
18. Ice cubes are not just for cold drinks!
By freezing cubes of home-made stock, lemon or lime juice, you always have an easy way of adding flavour to your meals.
19. Don’t stray away from the title as King or Queen of the Packet Mixes!
If you buy good quality packet cakes, no one will ever guess your sourced your beautifully crafted cake from a cardboard container at the supermarket.
And, if all else fails...
20. Keep a comprehensive folio of take-away menus handy!
By Laura Parr