Quick Cooking Techniques: Speed In The Kitchen – What Does Fast Mean To You?

Quick Cooking Techniques


Coming soon are posts on being extremely fast with food. Kitchen speed is hugely important because: (a) if this blog helps you make food much faster you can read every post and that time will “pay” for itself (right?), (b) family life is always busy, and (c) if a home-cooked dinner would take too long there are easy and less healthy alternatives ready to sabotage your good intentions, like ordering pizza.

Here’s where I need your help. What complicates the issue for a blogger like me is that everyone defines “fast” differently. What’s most important to you?

Businessman running with stroller

Ever feel this way? Image Copyright 2010 Ursula Deja-Schnieder

If you can put a Crock-Pot meal together in 5 minutes and let it cook for 4 hours, do you call that fast (a short “active” prep time)? Or is total prep time more important, as in you come home from work and need dinner to take 15-20 minutes start to finish? Or maybe you are looking to cook more interesting meals than these but need a 50-minute recipe streamlined down to 30? What other criteria do you have, and is there a threshold for when something becomes too long (like x number of ingredients)? Last question, are there specific aspects of your “food life” that you need to go more quickly?

Your vote counts! Thanks for telling me what matters to you.

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Posted in Fast, Food Articles, Philosophies, Techniques
9 comments on “Quick Cooking Techniques: Speed In The Kitchen – What Does Fast Mean To You?
  1. Winston says:

    For me, it depends on the occasion. If it were a normal meal on a busy weeknight where I don’t have much time to cook, then fast would be 35min max from the moment I step into the kitchen until the food is served on the table. But for weekends, 1 hour in the kitchen is considered fast for me, as I’m more relaxed and take more time. Hope this helps, interesting question raised! Looking forward to read other people’s responses too =)

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      Thanks Winston. The rules are definitely different on the weekends, for us too! I like to make many meals super minimal so I have time to really have fun when I do make something more elaborate.

  2. Katie Baldwin says:

    the faster the better in our family… it is always nice if it’s less than 30 min from start to finish or 10-15 min. of prep for the crock pot

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      Good to hear – I’m aiming for 15 minutes for a quality no-do-ahead meal. We’ll see how many recipes I can actually keep under that threshold, but that’s my goal!

  3. Lauren says:

    For me fast is you start working on dinner prep and 30 minutes later you have a meal. Crock pots are in their own category. For crock pot recipes I want something I can toss together in 10-15 minutes in the morning and that can cook for at least 8 hours while I’m at work. The recipes that are ready in 4 hours don’t do me much good on a work day!

    When I think “I want something fast” I also generally want something simple. Which for me means it creates minimal dishes and utilizes easy to use pantry staples. One evening after a very long day I skipped making dinner because I didn’t know where the sherry was. Not my brightest moment in the kitchen!

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      Great story about the sherry. I hate how one missing ingredient can stop me in my tracks. I’m a big fan of the Substitutions Bible by David Joachim. Great reference for finding alternatives, with very specific instructions on multiple substitution options with equivalent quantities, etc. Last I checked you can do a full text search on it on Amazon and get to the page you need without even buying it! But worth buying for sure. And at the end of a long work day…that’s even more reason to keep recipes simple. Save it for the weekend!

      Congrats on your new blog by the way – looking good!

  4. Krista says:

    Fast is always good, but for us it depends on the night. On days where both my husband and I work, a crock pot meal is perfect, because we can smell that dinner is ready when we walk in the door. On a day that I’m home, I prefer to avoid the crock pot. I think meals that can be prepared and on the table within 30 minutes are best for us. Otherwise, we end up eating our meal after 7 pm, and that’s really hard on hungry little tummies. Speed for me comes down to good preparation ahead of time. I find that if I plan my menus a week in advance and have all the ingredients on hand, then any meal comes together quickly, and either my husband or I can start the meal based upon who gets home first. It’s when we have to ask, “What’s for dinner tonight?” That preparation becomes daunting and we often resort to eating out. When I plan our meals in advance, I plan them with our weekly schedule in mind. Crock pot Wednesday, and family meal preparation for our “family night” Fridays. Fridays, we choose something like a “make your own pizza” night and we prepare it and eat it together. So, preparation is what makes meals come together quickly for me.

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      I miss having dinner with you guys! Was always great food, too bad you had to ruin everything and move out of town 😉

      Great points though – good planning changes everything. And if hungry tummies aren’t fed things start getting ugly really fast. Good for you guys, sounds like the weekly routine works really well. Curious what helps you to do that consistently, vs what tends to interfere with the weekly plan – for us the hard part is actually making time to plan ahead even though we know it will save time later.

  5. Ron Sisler says:

    To me in a professional kitchen speed means sense of urgency because people are waiting for their food to come to their table. It’s also one thing to be fast, but accuracy must come with the speed. If the two don’t come simultaneously, You just won’t do well in a busy professional kitchen environment.

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