A lot of cooking stress comes from waiting until the last minute to begin. Use these plan-ahead tips from celebrity Chef Stuart O’Keeffe to ease stress, reduce mistakes, consolidate your prep time and even boost flavor.

  1. When using a cookbook, read your recipe three times over before you start cooking to ensure you understand it. Then gather the correct equipment and ingredients. If possible, do this one day in advance, giving yourself time to shop if you don’t have everything you need. This method makes cooking more fun and less overwhelming. Fewer mistakes, too!
  2. Use mason jars to stack your salads for the week in the refrigerator. Keep your wet ingredients at the bottom, and work your way up with lettuces, dried nuts and fruits, and cheese. Use a small airtight container to store the dressing.
  3. When roasting vegetables, preheat the oven to 400°, then place a sheet pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Prep the vegetables, carefully remove the pan from the oven and pour the veggies onto the sheet pan. This will create a sear immediately, sealing in the flavor. Return the pan to the oven to roast the vegetables.

Chef Stuart O’Keeffe is perhaps best known for costarring in the Food Network’s Private Chefs of Beverly Hills. In addition, he authored The Quick Six Fix (William Morrow, 2016), featuring 100 tasty recipes that require a mere six ingredients, with six minutes of prep and six minutes of cleanup. You can also catch him on FYI’s new show Stove Tots, which delves into the high-pressure world of kids cooking competitions. Photo by Joanne Murphy.