Time Saving Tips for Filipino Cooking Recipes

Did you know the average Filipino spends more time commuting to and from work than eating? With our busy work schedules and fast-paced lifestyles, it can be really hard to find time to sit down for dinner, let alone shop and cook for it. Add to that the diversity of Filipino cuisine and the complexity of most Filipino cooking recipes. But before you resign yourself to a life of fast food and instant noodles, here’s a secret: you can make an entire meal"not just a dish hastily tossed together"in less than an hour.

The key to faster cooking is maximizing your time. With a bit of skill and strategy, you can squeeze what’s normally two hours of work into one hour or less without sacrificing flavor or quality. Here are some time-saving tips for preparing healthy Filipino food on a tight schedule.


Use leftovers

Leftovers from previous meals have already been cooked and flavored, so half the work has actually been done for you. Most Filipino food recipes can be done with leftover meats, vegetables, and even sauces. And since you’ll only be adding a few extra ingredients, you’ll be saving money as well.

Plan your meals in advance so you can schedule leftover days. You can make leftover meals on days when you don’t have much time. Make a little extra on the previous day’s meal so you’ll have something ready-made for busy days. Take note of dishes that yield usable leftovers, such as roast beef and chicken, soups and stews, and heavy salads.


Get pre-cut goods

Use a little help where you can. See if you can get your vegetables washed and cut at the store or your meats chopped to serving sizes. Having your ingredients prepared in advance can save you a good 10 minutes of chopping time. You can find pre-cut produce at most groceries, but they tend to be overpriced and of low quality. If you have time, get your produce whole and cut them all in one sitting over the weekend.

Stock up on the most commonly used ingredients such as garlic and onions. You can peel and chop up to two weeks’ worth of these spices (they’ll start to brown if you keep them longer) and store them in your fridge. Keep the garlic in a clear jar and mix with vegetable oil. When a recipe calls for it, you can simply scoop out the amount you need instead of preparing a fresh new batch.


Use kitchen shortcuts

You’ll be surprised at how little changes can add up and cut your cooking time in half. Save steps when you can. Work next to the stove so you don’t have to walk over every time you finish chopping something. Heat your pots and pans before you start chopping, so they’ll be ready by the time you’re done. If you’re a slow slicer, try freezing your vegetables for 10 minutes to firm them up and give you more control.

If you can, rearrange your kitchen to make the work flow more efficient. Keep the three key areas"the fridge, sink and stove"close enough so you can move from one to another in a single step. If rearranging is not an option, you can simply work closer to the areas you use the most.


Maximize your flavors

A lot of Filipino recipes have that all-day taste that takes, well, all day to create. But most of them can be replaced with ready-made sauces and canned broths. Instead of making spaghetti sauce from scratch, get a ready-made spaghetti sauce and just tweak the flavors to suit your taste. If the recipe calls for hours of marinating, just use stronger spices and slash a good two hours off the waiting time.
This tip is especially useful for soups and salads. Most soups have to be boiled or simmered for at least an hour for the flavor to come out. But if you use canned broth, you can skip that step and go straight to adding your spices. For salads, use pre-mixed dressings or make a whole batch in advance.


Multitask

Yes, you can do two things at once in the kitchen. While waiting for one dish to cook, you can prepare another dish or start cleaning up. Think of quick dishes you can do within these little ‘time pockets.’ Most Filipino desserts recipes can be done in 15 minutes"about the same time it takes for a pot of rice to finish simmering. Start with the dishes that take the longest to cook, so that everything will finish at approximately the same time.


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About The Author, Carlo Villamayor
Carlo Villamayor is the owner and co-author of the Filipino food blog, Kusina.ph. A devoted cook, he makes it his personal mission to spread the joy of Filipino cooking recipes with food lovers the world over. Bon appetit!