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Bon appétit

Delicious meals at home don’t have to take too long

manuelita otero

I love long dinners full of loud laughs and good food. Some of my favorite memories have been made around a table with family and friends. But I just don’t get to do it as often as I wish because it seems there's not enough time to prepare and share special meals.  I have to remind myself that making that special meal for friends, family or just for me doesn’t have to take a long time.

Cooking at home for a busy person is always a challenge, which is why I’ll share some tips that help expedite the process. You may be doing this already, and if you have other tips, please share them in the comments section so we can all help each other cook delicious meals faster.

Organize your recipes: Sometimes we may have great information but can’t find it when we need it. Define the best way for you to organize your recipes. Do you prefer to have them all online, separate them by type of food, on your own files, on books, on folders, on cute little boxes? Choose whatever works best for you.

Prep time is key: Think about your meals ahead of time. Make a weekly menu or even better a monthly one. Once you have the menu you can include it in your grocery list and avoid having to stop by the store during the week, which will save you time and money. Knowing what to cook and having everything you need is half the work. We really like these meal planners, one is from Bakedbree.com and the other one from Cut and Create:

http://bakedbree.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/meal-planner-2010.pdf

http://jannawilson.typepad.com/files/weeklymenu.pdf

Once cooking: Put on some good music and get ready to create.  Why not make cooking time a moment for you to unwind and relax after a busy day? Here are some tips to cook a little faster:

- Start boiling water as soon as you are ready to cook.  Putting a lid over the pan will help it get hotter faster.

- If you need the oven, also preheat it as soon as you start mixing ingredients.

- Clean and cut all produce at once.

- Use kitchen scissors to cut meat.

-  If you will need minced garlic, ginger, or chiles for a recipe, put them all together and cut them at the same time using a rocking motion.

- If you need soften butter but you didn’t remember to take it out on time, grate it into flaky shreds and it will soften faster.

-  Stir-frying is one of the best quick-cooking techniques because the proteins and vegetables are cut down into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker they will be ready.

- Use wide, shallow pans for cooking. The wider surface area the faster the cooking.

When preparing special meals think outside the box. If you want to have friends over, ask each of them to bring a part of the meal. Why not make breakfast for dinner just to change things around? Or have each member of your family choose one night for them to cook? Use leftovers in creative ways, once in awhile let the appetizers be the meal or choose the main ingredients by chance. The options are endless. We may be busier than we’d like to be, but there are always ways to make a special meal at home a little faster.  

Manuelita | @manuelitaotero