Have you ever looked at a recipe and decided not to make it because it seemed too complicated? Here are my best tips for saving time in the kitchen by simplifying recipes.
Sometimes I get exhausted just reading a recipe. When there are a ton of steps and dishes to use, there are days when I don’t even want to try. If others feel like I do, it’s no wonder the number of people cooking has decreased. We’ve made it so complicated!
With a large family and a growing business, I don’t have time for complicated, so I’ve started simplifying the majority of the recipes I use. I’m saving time and energy, and not minding cooking nearly as much.
And as a bonus, I don’t have to wash as many dishes! That saves even more time.
I say it’s time to reclaim simple meals! Dinner shouldn’t be complicated. So use these tips to help you save time in the kitchen.
Time Saving Tip #1: Use One Bowl
Almost every cookie recipe I see nowadays calls for dirtying two bowls. I don’t understand it. I mean, there could very well be a scientific reason to use two bowls. But, the recipes I make still taste good using only one!
I start with the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Then, I mix in the dry ones.
But, I don’t just dump in the flour all at once. I typically add the other dry ingredients (baking soda, salt, etc.) and then add a cup of flour. After mixing all the other ingredients together, I add the rest of the flour. That seems to help get everything mixed well.
Note: This also works with bread, cakes, and many other recipes. It’s an easy way to simplify your recipe and save time in the kitchen.
Of course, if you have to beat egg whites, that’s a legitimate reason to use two bowls. You must use a touch of common sense when simplifying recipes!If there’s a legit reason for using two, do that.
Time Saving Tip #2: Beat By Hand
I don’t like washing all of the pieces that go with my stand mixer, so I’ve started mixing by hand a lot more. It’s a bit of an arm workout at times, but I have plenty of kids willing to stir if I need backup.
I love the texture I get on cookies that have been stirred by hand. I think it’s all the love I add by actually working with the dough.
As a plus, you don’t have to worry about over-mixing when you’re doing it by hand. It’s also saving on electricity. Well, at least a tiny bit.
Now, there are still recipes that I happily use my mixer for. I’m certainly not whipping cream or making divinity by hand. But, for most of the basic recipes, it’s a lot faster for me to do it by hand when you add up all the time to set up and clean the mixer.
Time Saving Tip #3: Delegate Parts of the Recipe
What parts of the recipe can your kids help with? Let them get used to helping you, and by the time they’re older cooking dinner won’t be a problem for them.
It’s an important skill!
Your kids can:
- Measure ingredients
- Be your gopher and get things out
- Cut vegetables (age dependent)
- Wash things as you go to help clean up go smoothly
- Read the next step
I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with even more things that your kids can help with. Having another pair of hands helping can really help you save time. Especially as your kids get older. But, in order to get them there, you’ve got to train the little ones to help.
Time Saving Tip #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Substitutions
You don’t have to follow recipes exactly as written. I know that’s a shock to many people. But, it’s absolutely true. Cooking is an art, and you’re allowed some creative freedom. You can change things up as you see fit, and as it allows you to simplify.
Here are a few examples from my kitchen:
I keep butter out on the counter at almost all times so it’s ready to go. Since it’s there, that’s my go to cooking fat. I don’t keep shortening and margarine on hand, just butter and oil.
I use sour cream in place of “cream of whatever” soups in some recipes. Since I don’t buy the canned soup, this saves me time from mixing up a batch of homemade. It’s super simple and tastes nice and creamy still.
Speaking of sour cream, if I’m short an egg in a baked recipe, I’ll use a heaping tablespoon of sour cream in its place. It doesn’t work well to replace all of the eggs, but when you’re just short one it can be a huge help.
If I don’t have a certain spice, I’ll either leave it out or substitute something I think would sound good. This stretches the amount of times I need to go to the store, since I’m not running off to fetch a single ingredient.
So the next time you’re making something and realize you’re out, try doing a quick Google search for substitution options if you can’t think of any offhand. You may be surprised at what you discover.
Time Saving Tip #5: Minimize Your Measuring Cups and Spoons
You don’t need to dirty your entire set of measuring things each time you cook! Look at your recipe. If everything is in 1/2 or 1 cup measurements, just grab out your 1/2 cup. Use it a couple of times for each cup.
My 2/3 measuring cup gets the most use. Three of those is 2 cups, and it’s easy to estimate other measurements. On the spoon side, I typically default to a teaspoon. I can use three of them for a tablespoon, and partial measurements are simple to guesstimate.
As you can probably imagine, I don’t carefully measure everything while cooking. I try to imagine how they did it back in the day. I’ve read the Little House books several times, and just can’t imagine Ma Ingalls fretting over precise measurements.
Maybe I’m wrong, but in my mind, simple recipes relate to a simpler time. They didn’t used to worry about having meals just so in order to take a perfect picture to share on Facebook/Pinterest/Whatever. They just cooked without all the fuss.
So I often do the same, and it saves me a lot of time in the kitchen.
Time Saving Tip #6: Use Your Intuition
The more you cook, the better you’ll become. You won’t worry as much about making changes to your recipes, and it’ll become second nature.
At that point, you’ll begin using your intuition. You’ll know which recipes you can simplify, and which ones are complicated for a reason. Substitutions that make sense will come to mind. You won’t be afraid to experiment more.
But, the only way to get here is to cook.
Do you have other strategies for saving time in the kitchen by simplifying recipes?
I’d love to hear!
Looking for more ideas to simplify life?
My course, Balancing Diapers and Deadlines shares the strategies I’ve used to grow a business while raising a large family. You can learn more about it by clicking on the image below: