Save yourself time and sanity in the kitchen

11:06 AM

Home Cyn Home's Coral blossom on a Society6 Cutting board

When you are a working professional, either working from home or commuting to an office, the last thing you want is complicate your life with boring household stuff.
Sadly, if you are a woman, the burden of running house still mostly fall on you, even if gender equality is becoming more and more prevalent in certain segments of the society.

I think it is no secret that we still have a long long way to go to reach that point at which household chores INCLUDING household management (the whole planning bit that is often seen as trivial) will finally be something that both parties in a couple split evenly.

This post is really not about to debate who does what, and arguing about who is right or wrong. This post is about accepting that yes, running a household is a big job, regardless of who does the most of it (I know stay at home dads who pull up long hours too).
No this post is about doing something to make your life and the life of your family a whole lot easier, and before I get into the whole nitty gritty of things, it is a post that comes with Amazon affiliate links to all the things I use (or have on my wish list) to make my life that much simpler when it comes to meal time prepping. This means that if you click on a link and purchase anything, I'll get paid a commission at no extra cost to you.

The meal time ordeal

Both hubby and I work full time, he has a fairly "short" commute for Mumbai and on most day he is home before 9pm, he travels frequently enough too, which means there are a lot of days I am holding the fort alone. 
I myself work from home as a designer, artist, blogger and art teacher, I work about 8 hours a day on those things alone, the rest of the time, I take care of our daughter, pets, and yes the home because let's be fair I am the one spending the most time in it and I am the one with the better understanding of what to be done household wise. 

If you are a regular reader of this awesome blog, you know what I made the choice to go maid free in April 2017, we built a system around that concept, and yes we have had several upgrades to minimise our working load : a dishwasher, a robot cleaner, and yes we still hire a cook on a daily basis to take care of the Indian meal hubby packs to take to work for lunch. 
Why? Because neither him nor me want to spend that much time and energy in an already busy day. A basic Indian meal ties you to the kitchen for about an hour every morning, it's definitely not what we want, and we are fortunate to have the option to delegate it, so be it! 

I still am in charge of my own lunch, and dinner (often just for me and my daughter). I also have the challenge of being chronically and GENETICALLY insulin resistant. I say genetically, because it is not the type that is reversed with lifestyle changes, I simply have a body that is highly intolerant to all type of carbs, and that coupled with a naturally slow metabolism mean I can't eat a typical carbohydrate heavy Indian meal, eat least not everyday. 

Lunch is easy, I just usually do a wholesome salad, dinner is a bit harder, because it also needs to fulfil the need of my ever growing daughter. 
This is the one big meal I take charge for in the day, the problem, is that it also is the one meal that comes at the end of a long day. 

On your typical day, I usually start wrapping up the day between the time I pick my daughter up in school and the time we head out to play, swim or conduct an art class. 
My day as a mom usually end around 8.30, and I try to end my day as an artist around that time on most days too. 

Cooking dinner sucks!

What I came to realise is that cooking dinner SUCKS! There said it! And growing up, it's no wonder my mom would often do a typical Swiss "Abendsbrot" dinner, simply taking cheese, bread and cold cuts to the table. She was already cooking a full meal for lunch as people head home for said meal in my homeland. 
I myself prefer a bit more variety for dinner, so evening is a mix of cooked stuff, soup dinners, and yes we do Abendsbrot from time to time. 

What amaze me though, is that in our busy times, there is still the stigma of not being good enough if you don't cook anything from scratch or produce a gourmet meal every day (if not 3 times a day).
I'll give you that eating out, or eating take out is not a healthy solution, there is still no reason why anybody, man or woman should be tied to a stove at 7-8pm to cook a full meal after having clocked an already full day of work. 

Things like meal prepped in advance, leftover should be made to be a bit more accepted, and in any case, shortcuts and appliances to cut our workload should not be poo-pooed as stupid, a luxury or a lazy person's fix. 

Enough already! 

Gadgets to the rescue! 

To fit our lifestyle, and busy schedule, I prioritised expenses that help us save time, my kitchen is full of appliances and gizmos that make that dreaded evening meal a much much simpler affair. 

One of my favourite is my Soup maker : 

The one I purchased is the Tefal Easy soup, which at the time of writing this is listed as currently unavailable (so won't share that link). But you can find others by simply searching for "Soup Maker". 

Those nifty appliances all make the process of making a hearty, healthy soup super easy. All you got to do is peel and chop your ingredients, toss them in the soup maker with water and select whether you want your soup to be creamy (blended and smooth) or with vegetable or meat chunks. It then, cook and blend on its own and beep to let you know when it is done, and will even keep your soup warm for a little while. 
It's not that soups were ever complicated, but the old fashioned way, it would mean keeping an eye on the cooking pot, and then either waiting for it to cool down to toss in your "mixie" or use a stick blender to blend it. 
This bad boy does it all, and it also doubles as a regular blender to make milkshakes and smoothies. 

Another gadget I love is this one : 

This is an electric egg boiler, this cheap, super compact, and really easy to use. In Switzerland, you can actually purchase hard boiled eggs directly in a supermarket, along with fresh ones if that is what you need. 
In India, you are left with the task of boiling them yourself, it's not that it's hard to do so, it's that it's easy to forget your pan on the stove and realise hours later that your eggs are now burning in their shells at the bottom of said pan, often after you wondered where that smokey smell came from....

Holy  Moly, crap the eggs! 

This tiny gizmo, let you cook hard boiled and half boiled eggs depending how much water you put in it in the first place, and it will switch off as soon as it's done. It's THAT easy. 
I usually boil 6 eggs in one go, store everything in the fridge and either put them in my lunch salad or eat them as a snack. On an Abendsbrot dinner, they make it to the dinning table too. 

Next on my list is this nifty tool : 

Amazon doesn't allow me to link to one specific product as an affiliate for this categrory, but it doesn't matter because I've been a long lasting fan of rice cookers over the year and I know that they all do the job regardless of brands, just pick the one that fits your need and budget, if you don't fill like clicking on the generic link above, simply search from Rice Cooker on Amazon. 

Seriously that is the one item I think every household should own, especially in India where rice is often a staple. 
I had my first rice cooker in my tiny studio apartment back in Geneva. I had a serious space constraint, and a tiny hotplate stove, so I needed an option to cook my rice separately when I was busy cooking the rest of the meal on the hot plates. 
When I moved to India, I did without for a few years, using my pressure cooker instead. The problem, is that while you are busy cooking everything else it's easy to loose track of how many whistles went by, it frequently resulted in burned rice in our home, and hours trying to salvage the bottom of the cooker scrubbing the burnt crap for hours. So we went back to the rice cooker, and never looked at cooking rice the old fashioned day ever again, that awesome appliance switches off automatically when it's done cooking, like the egg boiler. 

I don't eat much rice myself, for obvious health reason, but that thing can also cook pearl barley which is a healthier substitute for rice when you are plagued with insulin resistance or diabetes. 

Now on to an item that is on my wish list : 

I have quite a few friends who rave about their bread makers, and this model from Kent is on "to buy soon" list. 
I am not a massive bread eater, and until recently I was happy purchasing my multrigrain sourdough loaf from a local brand, but they made the move to package everything into even more plastic than before, so I am boycotting them big time. 

To anybody that has tried their hand at bread making, you know it's time consuming. You need to knead your dough, let it rest, knock it back, let it prove again, and finally bake it.
This means you need to remember you have a batch of dough raising, it's all good if you life revolve around the kitchen.
Unfortunately my life is more likely to revolve around watercolor, Copic markers and my scanner. That means I have often forgotten about the raising dough the whole day. 

A bread maker pretty much does it all for you, it mix and knead your dough, let it rise and when it is ready to bake it, will do so, you can apparently even set it on a timer so that the bread bakes exactly when you need it. 
This is an expense I wasn't fully willing to make until the plastic disaster that my favourite bread brand became. And all the other bread alternative on the market are loaded with preservative, taste enhancers and artificial ingredients, that not only make the bread unhealthy but often make it taste crappy too. 

Narrow your needs and see what you can do to make it simpler. 

Ok, so not all of you are soup fanatics, or need an egg boiler, the whole point is that if you find yourself dreading one task in your kitchen, you should work on finding a solution to make it a much simpler thing. 
This means either making batches of certain food in advance and freeze it, or automate a process so that it frees you to do something else. 
Nobody really gets medals or trophies for slaving in the kitchen, and if you have kids, let's face it, half the time you will be rewarded with whining, complaining and reluctance to eat the food you spent an hour or more to produce in the first place. Is loosing your sanity really worth it? Nope, not by a long shot. 
If you steam a lot of things, including idlis, buy yourself an electric steamer. If you guys eat a lot of grilled food, invest in a good grill that will work on a timer, hate cooking rotis (can't blame you at all here) get a roti maker. 
You all deserve to make your life as fuss free as possible, and that kind of attitude starts by reducing the amount of work load in your home as much as possible. 

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  1. I like your blog. Have tried couple of cleaning tips from here. try OPOS. You will not need any of these gadgets and trust me it simplifies the life a lot.

    1. I googled OPOS, might work for some continental dishes, deffinitely a time saver for Indian cooking, but the gadgets I use are fully automated. The soup maker will cook, blend and then keep warm on it's own, the rice cooker does the same minus the blending.

      And the bread machine is going to be my next big appliance purchase, it kneads the dough, let it rise, and then bake the bread without my having to do anything beyond pushing the button to start it.

      As I said, what works for one person, doesn't for another :-) It really boils down to lifestyle needs and what cuisine is cooked more often.
      When I am not using those gadgets, I'm actually using the oven/grill a lot to make roasted dishes.

    2. yes.. to each their own :-) its definitely not fully automated. i find it helpful for myself as it helps me in preparing soups etc under 10 mins(including chopping, blending etc). and definitely good for cooking all veggies, boiling eggs, making noodles, pasta, chapati, rice varities etc. but yes, finally whatever works is good :-). and its different for different individuals.

    3. I think in our modern time and age it's simply insane to expect women to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare food on top of everything else :-) So yeah whatever works to make the task quicker and efficient is welcome.

      I'm the type of person who easily forget things on the stove, I burned more than one pan, destroyed two pressure cookers, and once averted a crisis by suddenly remembering while I was in a rickshaw that I had left chicken soup pieces to simmer on the stove. I made the poor guy U-turn and head back home in a state of panic.

      Safe to say I am a scattered brain disaster in the kitchen :-)


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