De-Stress Your Cooking Experience with These 10 Tips
Stress free cooking is a necessity in today’s busy world, especially when it comes to cooking for large parties. These ten quick tips should help keep your cooking stress-free.
1. Plan ahead – Even if you aren’t cooking for a large group, it’s still important to have a plan of action for your meal. Planning ahead keeps your mind on your cooking, rather than struggling with split-second decisions due to a lack of preparation.
2. Prep ahead – Once you’ve developed an overall plan, prep as much of the meal as you can in advance. If diced vegetables are part of the ingredients, you can probably chop them up two to three days in advance and store them in the fridge. Need a soup stock or broth for one of your intended recipes? Cook it up well in advance and freeze it until the day arrives. This type of prep work ensures a smooth cooking day with less stress.
3. Don’t be overly ambitious – The first time you show off your skill at creating a full five course professional meal shouldn’t be when thirty hungry people are waiting for the results of your grand experiment. Whoa, Nellie. Keep things simple yet elegant and reduce your stress level considerably, thereby soothing the growling stomachs of your family and friends waiting closeby.
4. Time plan – In cooking, timing is everything, and getting everything together on time, all at once, is a challenge. Should be common sense, right? Wrong. Lots of people don’t take the time to think ahead like this.
Be different. Take a look at what you need, how you are going to cook, (i.e. oven, stove, crock pot) and how long its all going to take. Once you have that information, walk yourself back in prep time to figure out when you need to get things going. This way you’re better equipped to be ready when company walks in the door.
5. Use simple recipes – If at all possible, utilize simple recipes that use one pot and don’t make such a mess. A simple solution like peach cobbler (which uses just one pan) can mean the difference between stress and satisfaction. The fewer pans you use, the better off you’ll be when clean-up time rolls around. Less clean up means less worry about finishing everything at the same time.
6. Clean as you go – If you can’t avoid using more than one pan to make a meal, you can still clean up as you go to reduce the amount you have to take care of after dinner. A clean workstation lowers your stress level during cooking, especially when you come back to the kitchen after you’ve eaten.
7. Music – Listening to music is another great way to take stress out of making meals in the kitchen. Studies show that music helps calm the system down in such situations, lowering our stress level with whatever music suits you.
8. Reduce movements – Music will help reduce stress in the mind, but you can also reduce physical stress by minimizing your movements in the kitchen. Make a trash bowl on your counter and throw everything in there first, so you don’t have to walk back and forth to the trashcan all the time. Keep the kitchen organized to find things quickly and keep you relaxed rather than scurrying around looking for things.
9. Delegate – We all know the scenario – too much to do, not enough time. It applies to cooking in much the same way as anything else. Stress in the kitchen is avoidable, if you have children who can help with simple tasks to lighten your load. Delegate and de-stress for best results. Having people around to help you can reduce your stress levels quickly and efficiently.
10. Clean out your fridge ahead of time – Sure, you’ve made a great meal, but now where are you going to put all those leftovers? Don’t stress yourself out and ruin a good experience. Clean out your fridge in advance to minimize the tension of making room later. A clean refrigerator makes things significantly easier for you, and will help keep food from spoiling needlessly.
These are basic concepts, but they take on a new importance when the time comes to cook for guests, or even yourself. Grab your utensils, put on some good music, and you’ll be whipping up a storm of scrumptious goodies in no time.