Cooking is one of the most time-consuming and tiring activities we do on a daily basis. True, it is all worth it, especially when you want to make sure everyone you love is eating healthy and nourishing foods, but you shouldn’t sacrifice all of your free time to this activity.
Luckily, there are ways to cut down the time we spend slaving over the stove! Below you can find 8 tips to make your time in the kitchen shorter and less demanding.
1: Be Prepared
Preparation is key when it comes to a lot of things, but it will save you time in the kitchen as well. If your pantry and fridge are well-stocked and everything is well-organized and labeled, it will be easier to decide on what to cook.
It’s also helpful to organize everything in the (most likely) order of use.
2: Plan Meals For the Week
It may sound crazy (to some of you, at least), but it helps to have a meal plan for the entire week. If you don’t know how to do it, there is lots of content online (videos and blog posts) to guide you through the steps.
The secret is to cook dishes that last in the fridge for more than a day and always have the right ingredients in the house (see step #1).
Many people recommend planning during the weekend, so you’ll have the time to think ahead and go shopping for ingredients (if necessary). This way, even if you don’t cook everything in one batch, you won’t have to go to the store during the week.
3: Get an Instant Pot
There are lots of kitchen appliances that promise they’ll do the cooking instead of you but don’t actually deliver. However, the Instant Pot multicooker isn’t one of them!
This device is perfect for people who don’t have that much time for cooking but still want to enjoy a home-cooked meal. In fact, if you check the blog Corrie Cooks, you’ll see there are a ton of recipes you can make with this pot, and the good part is, it only takes a fraction of the time it usually takes with standard appliances!
This electric multi-cooker is designed to improve the life of a cook by cutting down the time it takes to prepare various delicious dishes. It’s also designed to do most of the routine tasks on its own, so you can literally slam the lid on and go on with your day.
4: Prepare the Veggies
We like to use fresh vegetables in stews, salads, soups, and other delicious meals, but it’s rather difficult to buy ingredients for the entire week and still have fresh veggies (unless you grow them in your garden).
But, you can buy in bulk and freeze them for when you’ll need them. For this, you’ll have to wash, clean, and cut them according to the recipe, which is best done during the weekend. Sure, this tip doesn’t work for salads, but it helps save time for cooked dishes like stews and soups.
When it comes to salads, it helps to wash the veggies and keep them in air-tight containers. Also, greens and herbs can be kept in water, in the fridge (they’ll stay fresh for longer).
5: Prepare Lunch in the Evening
It may sound counterintuitive, but it helps reduce the time you spend in the kitchen in the morning. Also, if there are leftovers at dinner, you can pack them for the next lunch and you’re done!
Mornings can be stressful, especially if everyone is in a hurry to get out the door. But, if you have lunch ready to go in the evening, it will be one less thing to worry about during the night.
6: Make Your Own Seasonings & Dressings
Everyone knows that retail salad dressing is not exactly healthy. Also, not everyone is happy with the store-bought seasoning for steak or chicken. So, to make sure everyone is happy and you don’t have to remember 5 or 7 seasoning preferences, it helps to have them ready to use.
Use small jars or even sandwich plastic bags to mix seasonings and make your special salad dressing. You’ll thank yourself for such a wonderful idea when you just grab the bag/jar and sprinkle the content as needed.
7: Prepare Foods in Batch
Have you ever worked on a complicated dish only to have to throw some of it away because it was too much? It happens even to the best of us!
However, there is a way to go around this problem and shorten the time future you will spend in the kitchen. When you cook foods like lasagna, meatballs, casseroles, or even pies, it’s OK to go big if you have a large freezer.
As such, make the mix or layer everything just as if you’d want to cook it. But, before you start the cooking process, divide the content into serving sizes, and only cook enough for one sitting. Freeze the rest. This way, you’ll have a full meal ready for next week (or two weeks from now) and all you have to do is put it in the oven or on the stove!
8: Clean as You Go
If you have a dishwasher, fill it as you go and when you’re done with the preparations and the food is slowly cooking, you just press the button and you’re done! If you don’t have a dishwasher, it’s best to have a sink filled with warm and soapy water and clean everything as soon as you’re done using it (or you wait for the food to cook).
If you get used to this system, there won’t be piles of dirty dishes after dinner and you won’t feel like someone hired you as a non-paid dishwasher!
Cooking at home is not just more healthy than eating out all the time; it’s also less expensive. Even more, families who eat together are more likely to develop stronger bonds, and children who eat home-cooked meals are less likely to become obese in their adult lives.
As such, even though we live more stressful lives, it is worth finding ways to accommodate this habit in our lives and pass it onto our children as well!