Tips from a Personal Chef

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah Winfrey may have personal chefs, but mere mortals do their own chopping.


“People are busier than ever and looking for ways to eat well within their lifestyles,” says Dave Lieberman, a personal chef, Food Network host, and author of Young and Hungry: More Than 100 Recipes for Cooking Fresh and Affordable Food for Everyone.

“What many types of personal chefs do isn’t necessarily that hard,” he explains. “It’s primarily about cooking smarter, and all that it requires is a little planning.”

Here are some of Lieberman’s tips for incorporating personal chef know-how into your organic kitchen routines:

  1. Grab a good deal on sustainable proteins. From a jumbo pack of chicken breasts to a whole side of salmon, nice-priced main ingredients will save money and provide culinary inspiration. If you’re not going to cook your proteins immediately, create individual fillets for the fridge or freezer. It takes only a few minutes.
  2. Prep your most-used ingredients ahead of time, and store them in quick-grab containers. Chopped onion, grated cheese, pie crusts and bread dough are great items to have on hand in your fridge or freezer. Lieberman also suggests freezing stocks in ice cube trays—“great for leftover wine, too,” he says.
  3. Pre-prep flavorful starters to jump-start weekday meals, while leaving room for last-minute creativity. For example, boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be individually wrapped and frozen in a favorite marinade. By the time they thaw, they’re packed with flavor and ready for a variety of recipes, from salads to fajitas.
  4. High-impact ingredients can transform even the most basic foods. “Adding a handful of fresh herbs to a pre-made dish—even if it’s just yesterday’s leftovers—is a great way to bring it to life,” Lieberman says. He freezes small quantities of butter blended with herbs, spices and other seasonings, which he uses to top steaks, fish, grilled or steamed vegetables, and baked potatoes.
  5. When cooking basics like potatoes or rice, up the quantity so you have prepared ingredients for later in the week. “That way, you’ve always got the makings for a fast and easy side dish—simple sautéed potatoes, impromptu fried rice, you name it,” Lieberman says.
  6. When whipping up large batches of favorite recipes, package leftovers in smaller-size portions. Freeze individual servings for quick family meals.

With simple organic ingredients and a little planning, family and friends may think you have a personal chef in your pantry!

Tips courtesy of Dave Lieberman and Glad Press’N Seal

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