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Cooking Smarter, Not Harder: 15 Secret Shortcuts Chefs Take at Home

Do professional chefs always take their work home with them? According to a popular online forum, many look to take shortcuts when cooking their meals, using ingredients that will surprise you.

Here is a list of their best confessions.

1. Powdered Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes
Image Credit: Daniel Sone (Photographer), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The forum member who started the thread confessed to using powdered mash for their home cooking, and they weren’t alone. Several chefs agreed that this was a great shortcut after the original poster said that they wouldn’t use three to four different pots after working brunch all morning.

2. Minced Garlic

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Restaurant customers would demand fresh garlic, but chefs prefer to use a common hack when cooking for themselves. One defends minced garlic by claiming it takes too long to clean the garlic press.

3. Chopped Ginger

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

On a similar theme to jarred minced garlic, also known as ‘Jarlic,’ some cooks are happier to use chopped ginger than the real thing. Fresh ginger is fiddly, and the jarred version is a real time-saver.

4. Butter

Stick of butter
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Sometimes, it’s all about the preparation, and one chef admitted that they never cut their butter into cubes. Several cooks confirmed that they still use butter outside of the workplace, but, as one commenter put it, there is no way a chef is dicing butter at home. 

5. Instant Stock Cubes

Bouillon cube
Image Credit: By Rainer Z … – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wiki Commons.

The word instant is enough to convince many working chefs, and stock cubes are a must-have in their home kitchens. One individual confirms that they don’t get paid enough to have my stove on for two to three days making stock.

6. Microwave Hollandaise Sauce

Eggs Benedict with little salad, milk and fresh herbs
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

As a non-chef who has failed to make hollandaise sauce from scratch, this seems logical. Forum chefs agree, with one confessing that it’s getting added to the cheat sheet.

7. Frozen Pizza

Frozen Pizzas
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

You may think that pizza chefs have it easy, but would you want to put your face in front of a red-hot oven for hours? Back home, those cooks stick to frozen versions.

8. Pot Noodle Sandwiches

Homemade Grilled Macaroni and Cheese Sandwich Ready to Eat
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

You may be shocked just to discover that this is even a thing. As an instant pot recipe, this is the simplest, but some chefs endorse pot noodle sandwiches. It’s easy to understand this from a speed perspective, but surely the taste and the soggy texture must be wrong!

9. Frozen Vegetables

Frozen Vegetables
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Some chefs use time savers even when they know it’s wrong to do so, and frozen vegetables are a common fallback. 

10. Gravy Granules

By Famartin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wiki Commons.

Considering the theme and some examples we’ve seen so far, it’s no surprise to see gravy granules make the list. One chef goes a step further, confessing that they prefer powdered gravy over real gravy.

11. Kraft Singles

 Kraft Singles

Our chefs serve Those processed cheese slices at home in many different ways. One uses singles in their Mac ‘n Cheese, while another enjoys a couple of frozen burritos, smothered in Kraft Singles with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. 

12. Use Those Stems!

Fresh raw broccoli on green background
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When using certain herbs, such as thyme, professional chefs will go out of their way to take the stems out of the equation. When at home, anything goes. One cook confirms that they refuse to separate the leaves from the stems of fresh herbs.

13. Instant Ramen

Instant Ramen
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This popular noodle dish gets the vote from our panel of chefs. One claims that the fact you just boil the kettle and make noodles instantly is a Godsend. At least they don’t end up in a sandwich!

14. The Baking Soda Hack

The Baking Soda
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Having just spent ages making caramelized onions, I was furious to read about this trick. As one professional cook confirms that baking soda increases the PH, which drastically speeds up cellular breakdown. 

15. The Whole Concept of Cooking 

cooking food
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.

One cook responds to the thread by asking, “Do you guys cook at home?” Some chefs seem to lack energy or motivation after a day in the working kitchen. One individual signs us off by stating they almost exclusively eat cereal and milk at home. 

Source: (Reddit).



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