When I asked about what the biggest challenges you face in the kitchen are on the Personal Chef Approach page recently, Jan Rogers Salsky mentioned “not timing things properly.” As you might imagine, timing is everything when you cook, and even more so when cooking multiple meals at once with the Personal Chef Approach (PCA)!

Perfecting your timing while cooking multiple meals at once

Perfecting your timing while cooking multiple meals at once

It happens to the best of us Jan (even when we think we are organized). I was talking to a friend while cooking yesterday, only to reach for my hand blender and it wasn’t there.  So what happened? I have a new cleaning lady who’s a little overzealous (and creative) when tidying up. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore her because she takes initiative and goes where other cleaners fear to tread- she even cleans windows and polishes silver, so I dare not complain!

Note to self: All future miss en place (everything in it’s place) will include pulling out all tools and equipment in advance as well as prepping and measuring my ingredients.

All-Clad nonstick

Pull equipment out before beginning

Here are a few more of my basic tips you should make a habit to avoid timing catastrophes:

1). Schedule! We all procrastinate and find excuses that there are just not enough hours in the day, but we have to eat. The whole point of the Personal Chef Approach is that it frees up so many hours when you have your dinners prepared in advance, however you have to make the time to do it. Make it a priority and write your cook date into your calendar for the week.

2). Kitchen timers are an inexpensive, yet very handy tool to, so do invest in a few. Plus, many appliances today come with them already built in, so use them.

This week's menu plan available to members, or purchase individually in the shop

This week’s FREE menu plan available to everyone, so you can try your new timing tips

3). Always read through every recipe you intend to make on your menu plan first, and decide what order you are going to cook them in to be the most time efficient. For example with this weeks’ menu plan I would prepare in the following order:

  • The Beef & BarleyMushroom Soup will take the longest to cook and cool, so I would start that first.
  • Once the soup is on, preheat the oven for the Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Baked Sweet Potato (see note on recipe).
  • Get water boiling on another burner for the Fettucine, and cook to package instructions. Toss with olive oil.
  • On another burner, begin making your Braised Chicken with Buttermilk Dumplings. Once that is going package and cool your fettucine, and soup. Then start preparing your Eggplant Rollups. If not eating that day, you might want to cool and package at this point, then bake off on the night you want to serve it, otherwise, remove cauliflower and place the eggplant into the oven, adjusting the temperature accordingly. Package and cool your cauliflower.
  • By now your chicken should be just cooked, and it’s time to make finish off the dumplings. While those cook, get your Rice cooking on another burner, and start prepping your Pork & Vegetable Stir-Fry.
  • Package and cool your chicken and dumplings, and baked potato. Remove eggplant from oven and cool.
  • Cook your pork and vegetable Stir-Fry while prepping your Lite Curried Turkey ingredients. Package and store your pork and vegetables, then cook off your turkey, package and cool.

4). Stay focused on the task at hand. I use my cook dates almost as a form of meditation – I set aside a specific time (usually 2-3 hours on Sunday afternoon) with no outside distractions allowed, then I block out all other responsibilities lurking on my mind, and concentrate solely on preparing my meals.

Store your food properly for optimal freshness

Great sense of accomplishment with your PCA stocked fridge

You’ll be amazed by the sense of accomplishment when you see those meals stacked neatly in the fridge for the week ahead, scratch a huge responsibility off your to-do list, and know you have the time to tackle all the others now.

5). Practice makes perfect. Lean into the PCA by starting with just 2-3 meals off the menu plan to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Once you find your groove you can add as many more recipes as you like to your cook dates.

Please do watch the video above for more about how the Personal Chef Approach works, and the one below about why you would want to cook once, to enjoy homemade meals in minutes all week long.

I hope these tips help you master any timing challenges you face, especially now that the holidays are upon us. Let me know in the comments section below if you have more questions or tips to share?

This post was first published December 5, 2014

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  • December 8, 2014
    11:03 pm

    I’m making my list of recipes for the cookies and such for the holiday season, both as in what will be gifts and what I plan to serve when people drop by. I use the PCA method for my baking and such and it works out perfectly. Generally, it’s a two day marathon, but then it’s over with and I feel good knowing that I won’t have to bake up hundreds of cookies again for quite a while. I’m pulling together the recipes I plan to use and calculating how much of each ingredient will be needed so I can get my shopper to pick up these items for me. I think he’ll enjoy it when he’s the recipient of a container of cookies and fudge. I figure that I can do the cookies and fudge one afternoon and then some squares, cupcakes and likely some muffins the next afternoon. I’ll package up each container and label who it’s for and store them in the freezer and fridge and keep some handy for drop ins who don’t call ahead. Also, I want to surprise the lovely lady down the hallway. She’s 82 and fell and broke her kneecap. Not a good thing at that age, but it’s not slowing her down. Hope I’m as feisty when I get to that age! But, I have to thank you Julie Anne for developing this approach. I’d never be able to get all this baking done without this plan and it just makes it so much simpler. If I manage my timing properly, I might even find the time to make up some candied almonds (or cashews) for a friend who isn’t really into cookies. Usually I make him muffins which he loves, but a jar of the nuts will make it a little more special for him this year. Thank you for all your help! I couldn’t do it without your help and enthusiasm! Sending lots of hugs to you and Daisy.