Do you ever watch cooking shows and wonder how they seem to pull off cooking 20-minute meals with so much ease? You probably chock it up to being a professional chef, having a team of elves who make it super easy for them, and editing (obviously). I know that’s what I used to think.
Okay, definitely those people on cooking shows are pros and definitely those people have helpers who support them. Of course, there’s some editing involved, too, but that’s not what gets them a complete meal in 20 minutes.
Chefs call it mise en place, which is a French term that translates to “putting in place” or “everything in its place”. It’s a super fancy culinary term for “meal preparation”.
You already know my top tips for meal preparation:
Wash, dry, and cut up your veggies, and put them into portioned packages (glass containers or zipper close bags) for easy tossing into your pan.
Cut up and portion out your protein for each meal and put them into portioned packages (or set aside the protein for each meal and cut it up right before you cook it, whichever you prefer) for quick cooking.
Make sauces ahead and keep them in the fridge for quick use.
Keep spices on hand (or try some of Epicure’s meal solutions) to make it simple to make things tasty.
Those are the first step to having awesome 20-minute meals, but meal prep goes farther than that. Your kitchen set-up can also help you get from ingredients to dinner super fast.
Use fewer dishes
Organize your pantry
I often talk about keeping your pantry well stocked. It makes your life easier and lowers your grocery bill (what’s not to love!), but having your pantry stocked isn’t always enough. You have to be able to find the things you have.
Take a few minutes this week and make sure you can access all your go-to staples like oil, soy sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, chickpeas, black beans, and olives.
Clear your kitchen counters
You know those cooking shows I was talking about? Notice how they have everything they need on their workspace and nothing they don’t? That’s one of the keys of quick meal success.
Now, I know that not everyone has a TV-ready kitchen. You might not have that much space in your home or apartment’s kitchen! All I’m saying is do your best to find places for appliances in your cupboards and keep only the gadgets and tools you use daily out at arm’s reach.
Use the right tools for the cooking job
A major time saver for me became my blender and food processor. They are so useful for every day cooking and baking. While these are definitely investments, the time they save you in getting things ready (and making foods you love, like homemade almond butter) is invaluable.
Clean while you cook
Okay, technically this doesn’t help you make quicker meals, but it does save you a lot of time!
If you clean while you cook, there’s less to clean up when you’re done, and your kitchen is ready for the next meal. There’s nothing that makes me want to cook less than a messy kitchen – and you’re already in there, so make that time count!
Give these tips a try and see how quickly you can master 20-minute meals. Head over to my Instagram and let me know how it went!
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I’m Kandice-Lee! I am passionate about the impact food can have on your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I help people lead bigger, bolder, and better lives through teaching meal planning, meal preparation, and clean eating.