One day I will have my dream kitchen with a fancy backsplash, chopping block counters, a large walk-in pantry, and a quaint little vegetable garden brimming with nature's best seasonal produce... But alas, that is still very far into my future and I will have to prevail with my rented Dubai abode (where I can still cook up a storm, by the way!!)
But one of the key lessons that I have learned, and really started to appreciate, since launching Oscar and Jemima's, is preparation.
There's a wonderful French phrase called mise en place which roughly translates to 'put in place’. It’s used to describe the practice of chefs preparing food up to a point where it is ready to be used in a dish during food service - from washing and chopping herbs, to measuring and weighing ingredients, the practice of mise en place can dramatically reduce stress, save time, and can actually preserve the quality of fresh ingredients for longer.
So, I thought I would draw some inspiration from this to help all you other home cooks and foodies become a little more organized in the kitchen.
I can't stress enough how planning your week's meals really does set you in good stead, but I guess I would find this extremely helpful as I set up a business specifically to help with this task :) Anyway, even if you don’t subscribe to Oscar & Jemima’s I still think that meal planning is an imperative life skill that we should all be doing.
Simply spending 15 minutes at the weekend, before you go shopping, to think about what you and your family want to eat for the following week, will not only save you precious time and money (fewer trips to the grocery store also saves on petrol!), but it also keeps you mindful about what you are putting in your body.
Once you have thought about what you want to cook, write it down and stick it on the fridge, create a shopping list and then stick to it! Don’t go shopping without a list, because I guarantee that you will come back with loads of food items that you don’t need, things you already have, and things you have forgotten - what a frustrating waste of time!
Fridge and Store Cupboard
Ensuring you always have the basics in the store cupboard and fridge really helps keep your shopping visits to a minimum, and it also means that you can focus on the main meal ingredients. Essentials I always tend to have week after week are available to download here, here, and here.
If you love your freezer, don’t cram it full and forget about everything! It's so useful for stock, butter, milk, meat, leftover wine or fresh herbs frozen in ice trays for a later date, and those bananas that have gone past their prime (just peel them, pop them in a bag and freeze then add to a smoothie straight from the freezer. Frozen bananas are an ace alternative to ice cream too as when frozen they go very creamy in consistency when blended).
Get the insider's list of freezer essentials here.
I always, always make extra to freeze (and if you're a subscriber, you will be used to my useful batch cooking tips and recipes suggestions). Whether it’s a casserole, soup, pasta, bake, curry or a chili, batch cooking is always useful. I batch cook a lot for Oscar and it really does save time during the week, plus I don't have to stress about cooking every night and he still gets a home-cooked meal. This especially beneficial if your cooking kids meals separately from your own dinners, or if someone has a dietary preference or allergy.
So there you have it - some simple cooking tips to keep you ahead of the game and help you enjoy cooking even more. Let us know if you have any other secret hacks that make your life easier in the kicthen as we would love to share and acknoweldge you on one of our social media platforms.
P.S. Don't forget to download our handy conversion charts as wells as the kitchen essentials listed above, to help you become a more organized home chef.