Learn How to Save Time in the Kitchen

January 10, 2014

When cooking a weeknight meal, almost half of Consumer Reports subscribers said they wished they could get some of those precious minutes back. The average difference between actual time spent and what respondents desired is eight minutes.

Consumer Reports experts created these time-saving kitchen tips that incorporate countertop appliance options and input from chefs, designers, organizer and others. The guide outlines how to:

Design for efficiency. The work triangle – connecting the sink, fridge and cooktop – is still the baseline for maximum efficiency. But in two-cook kitchens, it often makes sense to have a second triangle, possibly designated around an island counter with a prep sink.

Think ahead. One of the top cooking gripes in Consumer Reports' survey was that it takes too much time to plan. A slow cooker is handy for make-ahead meals. The $250 All-Clad 99005 slow cooker’s nonstick interior helps with cleanup.

Minimize maintenance. Some materials and finishes are harder to care for than others. Stainless steel appliances remain popular, but if fingerprints are a concern, a newer, smudge-resistant finish such as GE's Slate may be a consideration. As for flooring, vinyl held up best in Consumer Reports tests against scratches and dents.

Contain the clutter.
In the kitchen, try to put things close at hand. For example, dishes and flatware should be kept in a cabinet next to the dishwasher; cutting boards and sharp knives belong near food-prep counter. Creating a separate landing spot, ideally just off the kitchen or along its perimeter, for mail, school papers and the like will help keep counters clear.

Make it a family affair. Look for ways to enlist other members of the household. If kids are present, designate a lower cabinet for everyday dishes or flatware, allowing young ones to help set the table.

Consumer Reports surveyed 3,435 subscribers about their experiences cooking weeknight meals. The full report on time-saving kitchen tips also includes top-rated steam ovens and ranges, seven steps for quick kitchen cleanups and frozen dinner ratings and is featured in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and on its website.
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