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.