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Cultivate Simple 57: Saving Time in the Kitchen

December 16th, 2013

MINIMIZE kitchen stuff.  It’s much more efficient to work in a space that is clutter free.  You don’t need more than one set of measuring cups or spoon, rinse out after use and put back.  Invest in a few quality items that will make cooking easier and much more enjoyable.  It’s also easier to maintain such items.  Good quality pots are easier to clean than cheap ones.
real_pumpkin_pie 7
Don’t fall for the lies, you don’t need 2 vegetables, a fruit, a grain and meat for a meal. sometimes one pot meals are easiest and healthiest!
When making biscuits, don’t roll out and cut in circles, pat into a big circle on the cookie sheet (or big cast iron pan) and cut like a pizza, or roll into balls and fit into a cast iron skillet for baking.
While you’re waiting for one thing to cook, start something else.  One day this past week I was baking something and decided I may as well cut and cook up onions for breakfasts while I was working.  Boiling a big pot of potatoes once a week is also a great idea, then you at least always have potatoes for a quick meal or to use for breakfasts.
Learn to make a few recipes that can be easily adapted to ingredients.  Master the art of making

  • Crepes: they’re so easy and can be used for main dishes when stuffed with savory ingredients or with sweet ones like fruit and whipped cream as a healthy snack.
  • Omelets: are also a good thing to master, they can be enjoyed for breakfast and dinner and can be stuffed with all the little bits of leftovers that aren’t enough for a meal.
  • Soup: is one of the best recipes to learn how to make.
  • Hash: throw everything in a skillet with different herbs.

One of the keys for this to work is to learn which herbs/spices pair best with different vegetable & meats.Double or triple every recipe, especially if it’s soup.  Freeze them in meal sized containers and you can pull them out of the fridge in the morning before you go to work for dinner that evening.  This goes for cookies and stuff as well, double the recipe and freeze half.  Or if you don’t want to eat an entire batch of cookies, freeze the cookies already cooked or the cookie dough.
Cook up a few staples at the beginning of the week.  Onions are always good to have in the fridge so you can make quick omelets.  I like to cook extra potatoes to keep them on hand.  You can use them for hash brown for breakfast or as a dinner side.  Mashed potatoes can also be made quite easily if needed as a quick side.
Learn to be creative with leftovers and learn to be creative with ingredients.  Make a pot of chili, eat chili on night, skip a night then the third night eat chili over baked potatoes with cheese on top.  You could also make chili lasagna and throw it in the freezer if you want a third meal option.
Wash dishes as you go when you have bits of time, by the time you’re done with dinner, all the prep dishes will be washed.
Maintain a well stocked pantry, have ingredients on hand all the time for quick meals.  Have a few meals that are quick and easy in your repertoire and keep those in mind for busy days.  I keep a few jars of home canned tomato soup on hand for such days.  Having a well stocked pantry will also mean that you’ll have ingredients on hand when you’re cooking.  Maintain a pantry based on your need, not what others say you should have.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.