It’s time to make dinner. You rifle through the recipes you have printed out, the books you have bought, seeking inspiration. You pause on a tempting page. “Make our extra special lasagna in only 40 minutes!” says the recipe book, alongside a photo of a man smiling happily alongside his perfect lasagna. (And also in his pristine kitchen – these photos are so misleading.)
“Right,” you tell yourself. “Am a grown woman. I’m a Mom. I can do things. And I am going to make the best lasagna the world has ever seen in 40 minutes.”
Fast forward two hours.
The kids are around your ankles, asking where dinner is. You don’t know. Everything is meant to be done but – oh no, shouldn’t you have done something with that white sauce? Better read the recipe book again. Your husband pops his head around the kitchen door to innocently ask when your food might be ready, and you bite back the stinging reply, venturing for the safer: “soon”, while silently adding on: “I hope. Please let it be over soon.”
So why does it happen? Every single recipe, meant to be so simple and easy, suddenly devolves into a long, arduous evening slaving over hot pans and never getting the result you want. Your evening is slowly eaten up – which is ironic, because when you sit down to the food, you hate the sight of it so much you’ve lost your appetite. Your recipe book and notes are things of torture and you never, ever want to see them again.
So in all seriousness (and some not-so-seriousness – sometimes, you’ve got to laugh!) here’s why the cooking process is taking you so long.
In This Post:
You’re Letting Yourself Get Distracted
“Okay,” you say, squinting at the recipe book. “Chop the onions. Get a knife, get a… oh hang on,” a momentary memory suddenly flashes through your mind, “did I call Amy back? I don’t think I did and she needs to know by tomorrow…”
So you go and get your phone and you call Amy back. And Amy, well, Amy has had a bad day and she wants to tell you about it. You’re a good friend, so you lean against the kitchen counter and listen. Give advice. Sympathize. Totally forget what you’re meant to be doing.
Distractions are a killer when it comes to losing time in the kitchen. The above is an example of how it can happen, but realistically, there are many things that can capture your attention when it should be focused on food.
Solution: For the time it takes you to cook, you cook. No distractions allowed. Make yourself focus.
You’re Not A Professional Sous Chef
The majority of the delays in a kitchen are down to tasks that, in a traditional kitchen, would be undertaken by overseen by a sous chef. That’s the chopping, the grinding, the cutting, the slicing. A professional sous chef can properly do that ultra-fast chopping that makes you wince when you watch it, imagining they are only seconds from slicing their fingers off. You’re much slower with knives, and it costs you acres of time when it comes to cooking.
Solution: There’s a gadget for all of those time-consuming tasks that are running down the clock. In fact, it’s gadgets – plural. From food processors to mandolins, there’s always something that can take some of the stress away and hit the speed button for you.
You Don’t Prepare Ingredients
If you’re having to pause every few minutes to remember where you put that jar of spice or which section of the fridge the meat is in, then it’s a delay. It might only be a slight delay of 30 seconds, but do it for enough ingredients, and that begins to stack up.
Solution: If you have the counter space, lay out everything you are going to use before you begin cooking. Every utensil, every food ingredient, every component part. Then, set the food processor going and get everything unwrapped, chopped, and ready to be used. That means when it comes to the active part of cooking, everything is already there waiting for you.
You’re Picking A Recipe Outside Of Your Skillset
None of us want to admit weaknesses, but the truth is, cooking is a skill. There are different levels of difficulty and if you are constantly struggling to keep time, it might be because you’re aiming too high.
That doesn’t mean you have to abandon the ideal of being able to produce gourmet food from your own kitchen. It just means…
Solution: Work up to complicated recipes. Practice will help both with time management and honing the skills you will come to rely on, so let it happen naturally rather than overreaching.