10 Cooking Tips for The Family
It’s the new year and we’re looking at ways to make it easier for you to cook for your family after a day at the office.
Heidi Shamsuddin and Annette Isaac, partners in the Dish Deli restaurant in Solaris Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, share some tips for all parents.
Heidi, a mother of three, says she cooks every day for about half an hour.
“When you’re single and have no kids, it’s fine to spend more time preparing and cooking the food after work, but when you have kids, they’re hungry when they’re hungry and you’ve got to get food on the table as fast as you can,” she says.
Tip #1: Prepare the ingredients the night before.
“Most of the time is spent in preparing the food. If you’re quite organised and you do it on a daily basis, it becomes second nature. What I used to do is plan for the week what we’re going to eat and the night before, I just prepare the items. I also need to see what I’m doing that day. If I’m going to be busy in the afternoon, I would cook something in the morning or prepare it in the morning so that when I come home, I just have to put things together and cook,” says Heidi.
Tip #2: Always have important raw ingredients handy.
Heidi believes in always having the raw ingredients for the things she knows her kids like to eat, such as chicken, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes.
“As long as I have those items, I can probably put together a meal in half an hour. That doesn’t mean they’re eating the same thing every week. It has to be chopped and changed, of course,” she adds.
Tip #3: Prepare a sauce and freeze it.
Heidi recommends making a sauce and freezing it. As long as there’s no dairy or santan (coconut milk) in it, it can actually keep for about three months.
Tip #4: Frozen dinners.
Both Heidi and Isaac say that parents should read the labels carefully if they intend to buy frozen dinners from supermarkets. You need to read the labels carefully for the ingredients, amount of fat, how the food is produced and what preservatives are used.
Tip #5: Buy curry pastes and rubs.
Isaac recommends making your own curry paste and rubs as you will know what goes into it. On the other hand, you could also buy the prepared curry pastes and rubs from suppliers who genuinely have 100% natural ingredients.
Tip #6: One-tray cooking.
This is where you apply a rub to your meat (chicken, fish, etc) and stick it on a tray. Add some potatoes, tomatoes and/or carrots and herbs to the dish, then sprinkle oil as needed. Then stick it in the oven.
Tip #7: Slow cooker.
This is where you cut everything the night before or in the morning, throw everything into a slow cooker, add your spices and water and then switch it on. The food will be cooked by the next morning (if you switch it on at night) or by the time you get home (if you do it in the morning).
Tip #8: Keep it simple, sweetheart!
Isaac says the trick is to make cooking simple. She recommends parents looking up recipes with just three to seven ingredients.
Tip #9: Cook for the week.
According to Isaac, for the highly-disciplined, there is the option of cooking the main dishes on the weekend for the whole week and then sticking everything in the freezer. Then each weekday, just take whichever dish you want and warm it up.
Tip #10: One roast for several meals.
Heidi recommends something she herself does – roast a chicken on the weekend. Then on the weekdays, use parts of the chicken for different dishes – pasta, sandwiches, salad, or even pizza.
by Brigitte Rozario.