The One Shortcut You Shouldn’t Take When Cooking, According to Michael Symon

Plus, a few that are totally OK!

Related To:

, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

, as seen on Food Network Kitchen Live.

Photo by: Kerri Brewer

Kerri Brewer

As a working parent (with a heck of a commute) there’s nothing that I love more than a good shortcut. Come to me with a creative way to get something crossed off my to-do list or a good hack that will shave some time off one of my routines and I’m all ears.

One of the things that I do every week to save time is meal prep my lunch. I take an hour or two on Sunday to roast a few types of veggies and cook a whole grain so that I can toss together some sort of salad or grain bowl all week long.

When I saw Chef Symon’s Quinoa Power Salad class on the Food Network Kitchen app I knew I wanted to watch it. I was sure it would give me some fresh inspo for my weekly salad routine. And I was totally right. A super-delicious, protein-packed salad with homemade dressing in a matter minutes — I’m definitely giving this one a try.

What I didn’t expect, though, was Chef Symon’s stamp of approval when it comes to some of my time- and labor-saving techniques. He says, "there are a lot of shortcuts with cooking that are acceptable: beans in cans, whole peeled tomatoes, things of that nature." Whew! It feels good knowing that I can cook like an Iron Chef without the hassle of soaking dried beans overnight or scoring, blanching and peeling my own tomatoes!

There is one shortcut that’s not worth it, though. Chef Symon warns, "One that I do not agree with is garlic that comes pre-peeled, pre-chopped, pre-roasted – all that kind of stuff." His reasoning? It doesn’t really taste like garlic. He goes on to explain that the cloves are peeled, put into a bleach-infused liquid (yikes!) and machine chopped — a process that makes the garlic bitter. He advises you to "buy a head of garlic, keep it in a cool, dark place and use it as you need it," instead.

So, there you have it: It’s totally acceptable to cook with some prepared ingredients — just not garlic!

Want to try Chef Symon’s cherry- and walnut-studded Quinoa Power Salad for yourself? Or maybe you’re looking for a few of his best tips and techniques. Sign up for the Food Network Kitchen app and you can drop in on all his classes.

Related Content:

Next Up

What Food Network Staffers Pack for School Lunch

These picks are 100% kid-approved.

5 Great Pantry Lunches That Aren’t Sandwiches

Don’t let your lunch routine turn stale.

Load Up the Kids' Lunchboxes for Back-to-School

Food Network’s guide to kid-approved lunches and locker-friendly foods makes cafeteria glee an everyday affair.

15 Packable Lunches That Have You Covered, Whatever Your Situation

Eat something you love, even when you’re on the go.

Your Kids Can Be In Charge of Their Own Lunch During the Week — Here’s How

This take on meal prep empowers kids in the kitchen — and leaves parents with one less work-day worry.

5 Lunches That Kids and Parents Can Agree On

The secret to success? Customization.

7 Quick Lunches You Can Make on the Fly

A busy schedule doesn’t have to mean an empty stomach.

How to Make Sure Your Salad Is a Full Healthy Meal

Salads are touted as the ultimate healthy meal. Here's how to make sure you're getting enough nutrition in each bowl.