Since doing my Time Audit, I’ve been looking into how to save more time. In addition to Cleaning The House, I want to reduce the 15 hours I spend cooking food.
Here are some tips that are saving me a lot of time in the kitchen already. I know they’re working because suddenly there are entire evenings where all I have to do is heat something up or throw an already-assembled dish in the pan. It’s pretty great.
How To Save Time In The Kitchen
Make Meal Plans. Don’t just plan what to eat for dinner in the week, get organized. Think through all the ingredients you’ll need, check what’s on hand and what’s not, and make a detailed list. Ideally you’ll need to do only one shopping trip for the week.
Multitask. If I’m in the kitchen making dinner, I’m probably doing three or four other things too. For example, last night I was making salmon and veggies for dinner, but I was also cutting up apples to dry in the dehydrator, roasting a butternut squash for soup, freezing excess blueberries, and cleaning up. I get a lot accomplished whenever I’m in the kitchen.
Mise en Place. This French term “putting in place” means to take everything out before you start cooking so that it’s all right in front of you. You save time when you’re not going to the refrigerator 800 times to make one meal.
Do Prep All At Once. If you know you’re going to be doing something twice in the week, it’s more efficient to do it all together at once. For example, if I’m chopping vegetables for one meal, I’ll look through my meal plan and chop any other vegetables I need for the week. If I’m cooking bacon for a quiche, I’ll cook an extra piece or two to throw in a bistro salad the next day at lunch.
Cook Extra Food To Freeze. Recently, I made stuffed shells for dinner. I intentionally made a double batch and froze the extra into dinner-sized containers. One night this week, I’ll pull those shells out and heat them up, and it will be so easy.
Make Freezer Meals. You can take the above a step farther and make a ton of meals up front and freeze them for easy access. Check out this post 100 Freezer Meals in 5 Hours for inspiration.
Make Leftovers You’ll Actually Eat. Make meals you won’t mind having twice in a week and then have leftover night. Last leftover night, my husband had veggie quiche and I had spaghetti with meat sauce and Savvy Jr. had a little bit of both.
Double Duty Your Oven. If I’m cooking something in the oven, chances are I’m also cooking something else too. Use the oven as much as you can during the time that it’s on. You’ll save time and money on your energy bill.
Preserve Things Right Away. If you know you’re not going to use all of something, take a minute to preserve it on the spot. Say you’re using part of a can of corn and know you’re not going to eat the rest right away, stick it in a container, label it, and put it in the freezer. You’ll save time and eliminate the chance of the food going bad.
Have A Baking Day. If you like to bake, do it all at once. I recently made banana blueberry muffins, two loaves of bread, and lemon curd in one afternoon. All it took was staggering my time. While the bread dough was rising, I mixed the muffin batter. While the muffins were cooking, I made the lemon curd. I came out with a ton of food for my family in not all that much time.
What are your tips for saving time in the kitchen?