Nothing slows you down more in the kitchen than dull knives. Invest in a good chef’s knife and paring knife. Then buy an inexpensive hand-held knife sharpener—these can cost under $10—and take just a couple swipes of the knife through the little V groove before you get to work. You’ll be slicing through the skin of ripe tomatoes like it’s nothing. Also, if your chopping skills are slow and clunky, spend some time watching the pros on TV and mimic how they do it. You may not get as quick as they are, but you can certainly pick up some of their technique, speed things up and be safer.