I spent a couple of hours this morning in the kitchen. What’s that you say? You thought this was going to be about spending less time in the kitchen? Hear me out, I promise that’s where it ends.
Spending time cooking and baking is inevitable if you want to eat well and enjoy homemade food. I happen to like cooking, and the food we consume in our house is worth the extra effort of making things from scratch, but like anyone else, I don’t want to be excessive and slave away in the kitchen more than I have to. I have plenty of days when I stand in the kitchen, hungry, thinking, “What can I eat right now, without an ounce of effort?” That’s not lazy, that’s natural.
This post is about being efficient with the time you do spend in the kitchen, in order to more frequently indulge in the instant gratification of a snack or a meal that doesn’t take any work at all….without sacrificing good old-fashioned homemade quality.
Whenever possible, make more than one batch.
Making a pizza? Make three pizzas, and freeze two. Making a casserole (shout out to my Minnesotans!) – make two and freeze one. Making cookies? Bread? Anything? Everything? Ask yourself if there’s any reason you shouldn’t make more while you’re at it.
Most of the time, it makes all the sense in the world, because herein lies the beauty of the secret:
When you make two (or three or four) of a recipe at once:
- Time for getting out ingredients and cleanup is the same as for a single batch
- Time for measuring the ingredients and making the recipe is only increased by a fraction in most cases
- You get twice as much food for your efforts (or more!)
For example, today I made a double batch of granola (I’ll be sharing the recipe on my blog soon), a double batch of Smitten Kitchen’s Parmesan Cream Crackers and a double batch of 4 ingredient pumpkin frozen yogurt. Let’s start with the frozen yogurt as an example–the recipe is a quick one, maybe 5 minutes to put together then 25 minutes in the ice cream maker to finish. Doubling the recipe only meant measuring more–I didn’t do a minute more of work. The crackers were slightly different, because I had to roll out the second batch, and stab all the crackers with a fork, which takes a while…but I still saved time on measuring and clean-up, and cooking them all at once. The granola added maybe 2 minutes, because I had to pull two pans out of the oven to stir the mixture, rather than just one pan.
In all, I bet the time it took to increase each recipe today from single to double added 10 minutes in total, and I have twice as much food to show for it. Everybody wins!
Word to the wise: be cautious about how much you’ll actually eat. If you make a double recipe of a dinner nobody likes or an amount that you can’t finish before it goes bad, then you wasted your time. If I’m making a new recipe, I’ll make a single batch, even when I’m tempted to make two, just to be sure it’s a good one. But our tried-and-true favorites? I’ll double them every time I have the ingredients.
This “secret” is particularly handy if you use your freezer–make a double recipe of the dinner you’re having tomorrow night and toss the second one in the freezer. Two dinners, one prep. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re feeling tired, hungry and lazy.