Does anyone really believe those cookbooks and TV shows that claim you can have dinner ready in 30 minutes, or 15 minutes, or before you even start cooking it?
How about reality-TV-ifying cooking shows? Let's see one where the sink is full, the chopping boards are dirty and the dishwasher didn't get everything clean. TV chefs' counters are never littered with beer bottle caps, crumbs, and suspiciously sticky empty glasses.
Oh, and let's see a kitchen that's actually smaller than my whole apartment.
So what's there to do when you don't have kitchen help?
- Recruit kitchen help. Okay, so I haven't done this much, mainly because I'm a terrible teacher and The Mr. doesn't really cook. We would probably end up making a hilarious UR DOIN IT WRONG picture. But I save a lot of time and burns by calling for help when it's time to drain pasta.
- Measure everything out before you start. I have a couple of tiny little dishes that a friend said are sushi dipping bowls or something. It helps to measure the spices out into little bowls first so that you don't have to hunt for spices and spoons at the risk of burning your food. Chop the veggies, open the cans, crack the eggs, measure the liquids. It probably doesn't save much time, but it can really save your sanity.
- Buy ingredients the day before. I don't plan for a whole week, because it doesn't work. Someone works late, gets invited out to dinner, brings something home, the kitchen is messy, someone gets a craving for a specific restaurant's dish... Stuff happens. Food goes bad. Just plan for only two or three days in advance.
- Frozen veggies aren't always bad. In fact, I'm going to use some in a couple of hours when I go home to make quesadillas. Mmm!
- Some steps can be done ahead of time. Even if the recipe doesn't specifically suggest doing some of the prep work a day or two ahead, give it a thought. This takes a little bit of a sense of what will get yucky and what won't, but once you have that, it can save a lot of time.
- And if all else fails: Wine. Dinner will still take the same amount of time. It may take longer. But you won't care anymore. Of course, you probably won't taste the food very well, and there's a better-than-average chance of lopping off a finger or burning the whole place down, but life is full of trade-offs, no? (I kid, I kid!)