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Kitchen Efficiency During Ramadan

Being efficient is a skill that can always be improved upon. During Ramadan, however, it’s more important than ever to be incorporate efficiency into your life so that you spend less time in the kitchen and more time taking advantage of the opportunities for ibadat during this blessed month.

 

Check out these ten tips to get you in and out of the kitchen quickly and efficiently, insha’allah:

1. Have a Plan For the Daily Iftar Menu: If you didn’t prepare one ahead of time, it’s not too late. Check out my 5 Simple Steps for Planning Ramadan Meals to give you an idea on how get you started at any point during the month. You don’t have to follow the steps exact- just have a plan for what you’ll be cooking for most of the month.

2. Buy What You Can In Bulk: Aside from food bought in bulk, purchasing things like dish soap, sponges, kitchen towels, paper towels, cleansers and disposable eco-friendly dinnerware and cutlery will save you time running out to the store for the little things, all of which eat up precious time. Buying in bulk will not only help you keep meal-prep moving along smoothly for regular dinner nights, it will also help reduce stress when surprise guests or planned iftars pop up.

3. Prep Your Basics Ahead of Time: The French call this, “mise en place”, or “everything in its place”. When you prep bases for soups or stews for example, you need to chop things like onions, carrots and celery. If you do it ahead of time, cooking will go faster and in a more organized fashion, increasing your overall productivity in the kitchen. I find that after suhoor, this is the best time to prep my ingredients for iftar that night. Find a time that works for you and stick to it.

4. Clean As You Work: There’s a reason why all the best chefs are trained to be disciplined and clean- they know time is money. In Ramadan, time is of the essence and money cannot make up for its loss. That said, from breaking the fast to praying maghrib salah to taraweeh prayer, there isn’t much time to waste. If you clean as you cook, you’ll be left with very little to do once the dinner plates are brought to the kitchen for washing.

5. Stay Hydrated While You Cook: Most people don’t consider this at all, let alone something that affects efficiency in the kitchen, but staying hydrated while cooking is critical to maintain one’s energy in a hot kitchen. Although we can’t drink anything while fasting, we can open windows and turn on ventilating fans and air vents above the stove in order to suck out the heat and humidity in cooking areas.

6. Make Those Leftovers Work for You: At times we make more food than we could ever eat, perhaps our eyes being bigger than our stomach while fasting. If you have just enough leftovers for the next day, be sure you use them somehow in your suhoor, saving prep time, or freeze the leftovers for a completely finished iftar later on in the month. Leftover veggies can be used in scrambled eggs or a frittata for suhoor and extra bits of meat can be thrown into soup or rice to add texture, flavor and protein to a dish.

7. Set the Table the Night Before:  We must eat suhoor at such an early hour that if you’re not up early enough, there is very little time to have a properly set table. Set it the night before so you can focus on warming up those leftovers or prepping something completely new and delicious for this important meal.

8. Use Cooking Time Wisely: Whether you’re cooking alone or with family members, use the time to do something truly productive like practice a surah you’ve been memorizing, make du’a or teach the kids a short hadith. Rather than talking on the phone or entertaining thoughts that increase stress levels, using the blessed times around suhoor and iftar will actually bring you rewards from Allah (swt).

9. Give Everyone a Job: Make use of all the extra hands in your family by giving everyone a job around meal-time, big or small. Whether it’s setting the table, putting leftover food in containers or chopping vegetables, each member of the family can take on a role that will increase meal-time efficiency, thus productivity in your kitchen.

10. Pray for Barakah in Your Time: Last but not least, pray to Allah (swt) to put blessings in all that you do. Your own efforts to plan and do things more efficiently will result in a more efficient kitchen during Ramadan, insha’allah.


 

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23 comments

  1. Salam Dear,
    Nice tip for keeping hydrated I loved it :-D

    I would like to share a tip I keep doing in Ramadan, every day or two days we have a dipping dish, that will work out 4 the sa7oor too, this could be “baba 3′noj” “dipping potato with herbs” yogurt with fresh herbs or humus, etc you just create more dipping & they r perfect for the leftovers :) plus they are perfect in summer as they don’t need heating…

    My second advice is sharing neighbors with dishes, this is an old tradition we used to do, on Eftar time we have the dish my mam cooked & two other dishes from the neighbors so the are asking Ajeer and socialize, Now if ur neighbor are not Muslim it is just the perfect time to make bonds between u and them and share some food then introduce Ramadan to them, why doing this? well, I meet a South African woman about 4 yrs ago when I did this introduction to her about Ramadan after I sent her a dish I made, she told me she thought Ramadan is some person name Muslim worship!
    Blessed Ramadan to ALL ;)

  2. oh masha`allah some really good ideas their … jazak`allah khair for sharing

  3. Sarah El Guerrab

    I keep a batch of boiled eggs in the fridge at all times, as they are running low I boil more. I also do as much on-line shopping as possible. It’s similar to buying bulk, but I do it through Amazon. It saves me the energy of getting out of the house shopping.

    I make moroccan soup 2-3 times a week, that way I don’t have to cook a soup that takes 3 hours to cook daily. My husband can eat Harira for Iftar and Suhoor everyday!

    The biggest thing I do is be as organized as possible!

    I do as much prep in the AM before the day gets to hot and I am to tired. I cut everything, and place it in containers for later. Also, if I know I am going to be using the same ingredient later in the week I will cut up extra so I only have to cut once. (this is one step that I do regardless of Ramadan, it helps me get things done with three crazy kids around)

  4. Assalaamu Alaikum,

    Perfect advice and at the right time. MashaAlllah. A tip I would like to add is that this is the best time to start a new habit (inshaAllah a good one) so if we were onesome who cannot follow any of the tips mentioned, take on a tip and stick to it.

    You’ll be surprised and what you can get accomplished!

    Thanks

  5. I enjoyed reading this post and it was just in time for Ramazan. I subscribed to you by email.

  6. Thanks for the tips!

    There is a 30-minute haleem mix (the brand I’ve seen is “Shan”) that I get from my local halal market. I prepare the entire box, which makes about 4 meals worth of haleem using two pounds of beef stew meat in my pressure cooker. It’s such a fancy dish that we order at restaurants but now I make it at home!

  7. Another tip… I use my immersion blender to cut cooking time in half. For things like lentil soup, I cook the whole lentils for about 10 minutes and then I blend the soup and it is ready in 5-10 more minutes (no need to wait 40 minutes for the lentils to break up on their own). I do the same with rice porridge.

  8. Great tips! I just found out about your blog from the Whole Foods blog post about Ramdan! Love these tips

  9. salaamu alaikum & ramadan kareem to you and your family! thanks for the greta tips, they are really good reminders! i totally agree with the prepping tip, alhamduliah i learned how to chop quickly and it has saved me so much time! fruit salads in 5-10 mins, same with veggie salads loaded with chopped veggies or parley for tabouleh, and it always helps with the onions of course! i have tried to teach family members but i find it difficult to explain the technique, can you reccomend any videos or techniques for learning. personally i like to chop with a large wide blade knife with a blade that is flat (like a santoku knife).

  10. Really well organized tips, mashallah. Very useful. This Ramadan, we have more family in our home and we have more kids, mashallah. I have found a very useful concierge service by Whole Foods where they shop for you and all you have to do is go pick up the groceries. Wouldn’t it be great if they delivered too…but no worries, my husband, alhamdulillah, picks up the groceries. I find my peak time is in the morning so I do the fruit salad, sandwiches, lemonade or whatever I’m making for iftar in the morning. That way I’m done for the day and can concentrate on my prayers, Quran and teaching the kids. Alhamdulillah, so far so good :)

  11. Assalamualaikum. MashaAllah those tips cover the core of what one should follow this blessed month to be efficient. I was glad to see “clean as you cook” tip included. This is one thing I follow at all times and it definitely makes you feel so good when you realize at the end of a task that everything is tidy already! When I read this article, I was reminded of my mom. I grew up watching her. She’s been my mentor and there’s so much of everything that I have learned from her. Alhamdulillah. Now living in a different country and culture altogether, there are other things to learn to cope up with the pace here and My halal kitchen as been a wonderful mentor helping me get accustomed to the way of living and eating here! MashaAllah.

    This is my first Ramadhan in US and first Ramadhan as a home maker and Alhamdulillah I m glad to say that I did not adopt to any new efficiency method specially for this month. That might sound surprising but it’s only because being organized has always been my habit, Alhamdulillah. From the time I came here and after settling down with Allah’s help I have been following a particular way of doing things that makes my work easy especially kitchen tasks and so I’m following the same routine for Ramadhan as well. It gives me pleasure to share it here.

    We eat simple, healthy food and I think this is the biggest advantage, Alhamdulillah because it doesn’t require you to be working very hard in the kitchen. As mentioned in your article, I plan ahead what I would be cooking in the next few days and purchase fresh groceries accordingly. When it comes to dry groceries like rice, macaroni, pasta, lentils, spices, tea/coffee/cocoa etc at any given time there is a stock of each at home, Alhamdulillah. As and when I find any of the dry groceries quantity reduced to a quarter of what existed, I fetch a new box/packet during my shopping and keep it ready in my stock cupboard to fill up any grocery once it’s depleted. It’s also essential to have neat air-tight containers to store staple food like lentils and rice. They stay very fresh. I stack them neatly in my cupboard with space between each of them for my hands to fit in and take out one. This way the other containers are undisturbed. I stack what I will be using frequently within my reach and in the top racks I store things that I would make use of only occasionally. I have a separate cupboard dedicated to breakfast essentials, healthy snacks and beverages; a separate one for lentils, rice, pasta, macaroni and oats; and a separate one for all the spices and herbs. Next to the cooking range I have a spacious area where I keep the salt, sugar, oils, a big round air-tight steel box that has 7 little containers to store spice powders and the food processor. This way the essential things are always within my reach and Alhamdulillah knowing what is stored where is such an advantage as you never have to hunt for things and mess up. It is a great time saver. In another long Cupboard, I store the cooking utensils. I use T-fal. Its been our family brand and it makes my work so easy that I cant thank Allah enough for blessing us with the intelligence to design such products, Alhamdulillah. Sometimes when we shop we end up buying things that tempt us. This may include containers to store food or a new kitchen device that may speed up some task or it could be some attractive non-stick spoons! Until I find a good use for them I store these in another cupboard along with eco-friendly disposable plates, glasses and cutlery (for our picnic trips).

    Except for the space near the sink (which gets wet often), most of my space in the kitchen, the inside of the cupboards and even fridge is covered with white sheets and then paper towels over which I place the stuff. After I came here, I cleaned all of these thoroughly and covered them up. This way I only have to change the top layer when I find it appropriate to and can always have my cupboards, kitchen space and fridge sparkling clean. This may sound funny but when I had done all of this in the very beginning my husband commented “I don’t feel like using anything because it’s all so clean. ” and sometimes he would say “I feel like I am entering a customized shop.” Alhamdulillah apart from being efficient in the kitchen and saving time, being organized gives me so much of peace. It de-clutters our mind and helps us also functional effectively. I apply the same principle to all aspects of home. Alhamdulillah.

    When it comes to cooking, I find that it’s not all that a difficult task when we decide upon the right stuff to make that’s filling and nutritious. Since all the things are already handy, what counts next is our meat and vegges. I wash the halal meat the same pf purchase and put them in Ziplock bags. Vegges, tomatoes and onions are indispensable for any dish. When it comes to onions, I cut them for two meals and store one portion in the onion saver. Earlier I thought cutting onions was a tedious task but when I learnt the right way to cut the onions, I find that it’s one of the easiest things to do! I also prefer cutting onions fresh for any dish, hardly takes a couple of minutes. When it comes to tomatoes. I puree a batch of tomatoes, it stays good for a very long time and another batch I keep it whole. This way even if I run out of whole tomatoes I have a puree for back up. Whenever I buy fresh herbs, I wash it the same day, dry it and have separate boxes to store them in the fridge. Same goes for vegges, I cut the vegges in advance and ziplock them. The same goes for ginger-garlic, have lots of their paste made well in advance and when things come to an end for any of the above, prepare the next batch a little in advance. It also helps to have a batch of fresh cage-free eggs at all times for a quick healthy meal. When I intend to make a dish I have everything handy Alhamdulillah and so cooking time is cut drastically because all you need to do is add on the stuff and cook. While the cooking is in process, I do all the dishes, thereby saving my time.

    Although sister you had asked for one best tip, I had to make a mention of everything above because it all helps me equally and I was confused over which one should I put forth. May be I can sum that as ‘being organized and preparing everything well in advance’ Since this is my regular practice at all days, I dint have to make any amendments for Ramadhan except for buying things more in bulk and making use of eco-friendly disposables – a great time saver! Also unlike other times, in Ramadhan we must work in the kitchen during our energy-efficient hours. It’s best to avoid working during the core hours of fasting and preserve that energy for ibadah. Regardless of what we plan for suhoor, iftari needs to be simpler and it helps a great deal to plan out when we think in terms of a soup, a refreshing drink and a proper meal every day.

    As you have put forth we can always improve upon being efficient. JazakAllah Kheir!

  12. Being a new Muslim and one that can stand to loose weight..learning how to cook better for both Ramadan and myself would be a blessing. Inshallah a copy of this book would be a wonderful start.

  13. For Suhoor and Iftar we only have water instead of juice. We don’t have to worry about buying anything and water is great to help hydrate you before and after the fast. I’ve been using cloth napkins for the past four years and it’s been great not to have that item on my grocery list. One less thing to go out and buy in the store. Bulk items kept in the pantry such as: olive oil, rice, chickpeas, crackers, etc allows us to avoid buying items every week. Freezing foods and meat has been great as well. That eliminates cooking during the week. We also eat leftovers. A simple suhoor, such as: cereal with milk, yogurt, and water helps eliminate having to cook in the morning and allows us more time to be awake after Fajr to enjoy those blessed moments.

  14. As salaamu alaykum, BarekAllaahu feki sister for all the tips and the website. I have found this page to very informative for a lot of things maashaAllaah. I don’t have any tips really for our holy month Ramadan. I am however taking notes :). If you have any tips on quick meals to make for kids to eat that are not at the age to fasting, so one will not be in the kitchen though out the day while fasting. InshaAlaah

  15. MHK is wonderful in creating new ideas and techniques. Thanks for the above methods.

  16. Salams Yvonne,

    Your tips are good, as I nearly practice most of them Alhamdolillah. Although, I wouldn’t mind a few simple recipes from your end InshaAllah.

  17. I have just subscribed. Being a working woman I would like to have simple and easy recipes for Iftar.. Insha Allah. . it was great reading all the tips and posts.

  18. Jazaki Allahu Khairan Yvonne for these tips. Organization is key to having Ramadan (and everyday food preparation) run smoothly. I usually precook ground beef, divide it into meal portions then freeze them. I also marinate my chicken, divide them into dinner portions then put them in the freezer. This does not only cut preparation time significantly, the chicken comes out tasting delicious. Ramadan Mubarak! :)

  19. Wow very helpful..

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