I love to cook. It is one of my favorite things to do. But there are only so many hours in the day, and every day doesn’t allow for me to cook gourmet meals. Sometimes I only have thirty minutes to get it together. And there are days when I just don’t feel like cooking.
It’s because I love to cook that I don’t want it to become a chore. I like to be prepared every week for what I’m going to make for supper during the week. I like to have all of my groceries on hand and I don’t want to make any last minute trips to the grocery store–especially with two small children. I want to enjoy my time in the kitchen!
So I came up with a little list of 10 tips to make the most of your time in the kitchen. Some of these are time-saving tips and some are sanity-saving tips.
1. Create a binder of recipes with your favorite go-to meals that are the easiest to make. I have a binder that has all of my favorite recipes. Some of these are torn out of magazines, some have been passed down from my grandmother, mother and aunts, and some are printed from websites. But these are my favorite meals that are the easiest for me to make.
2. Make sure that at least half of these are 5-ingredient recipes. For more 5-ingredient recipes, go to Cooking Light. Having 5-ingredient recipes cuts down on prep time and hopefully on cooking time. Save the fancy meals for nights when you have more time and you don’t have as much going on. Getting food on the table is one of our nightly chores, but it’s much better when we all enjoy the process.
3. Create a meal plan over the weekend. I use a great printable in my home organization binder to create my meal plan. I sit down with my recipe binder and sometimes bring out some cookbooks if I feel like getting more creative for a special night. I try to find common ingredients so I can cut back on my grocery bill. Extra tip: While you plan your meals, make a grocery list and organize your grocery list by the way the store is laid out. This will help you save time while you’re shopping.
4. Grocery shop on Sunday. I like to make sure that I only have to go to the grocery store one time every week. This helps me save money and it ensures that I am ready for every night of the week before the week even starts. By doing it on Sunday, I can leave the boys at home with Todd so I can get through the grocery store faster.
5. Prep your meal in the morning. One of the ways I can cut back on the time it takes to prepare our meal every night is by prepping the meal in the morning when I wake up. I get the vegetables chopped and put them back in the refrigerator. Or I peel potatoes or put the food in the crock pot.
6. Have at least one crock pot meal in your meal plan. The crock pot makes life and dinner time so easy. Use it!
7. Wash the dishes as you go or ask your husband to do the dishes while you cook. If Todd is home while I’m cooking, he’s my dish man. It makes me feel less overwhelmed if he’s cleaning up behind me while I’m cooking. Then when we’ve both finished eating, we can relax instead spending another thirty minutes cleaning up.
8. Make 4 freezers meals at the beginning of each month. In case of an emergency, you’ll already have dinner ready to go and you just need to thaw and put it in the oven. Sometimes I have a meeting and Todd is home with the kids. Sometimes we have a day where the boys don’t nap and the last thing I want to do is cook. By having the freezer meals ready, we have a few nights a month where we can take it easy.
9. Let your kids pick one favorite meal per week. This keeps them involved and makes it fun for them, too. And they’ll be more likely to help out with dishes and setting the table. There’s nothing more frustrating than cooking supper for your family and then seeing your kids not eat it. This way they know they had a part in choosing the menu for the week and they know they can look forward to their certain favorite meal.
10. Embrace leftovers. Maybe not three nights of leftovers, but at least once. We’re big into eating our leftovers. Especially if it’s a meal we loved. You don’t want good food to go to waste and we don’t want to be in the kitchen every night. You can spice up your leftovers by turning them into another meal completely.
How do you Keep It Simply Smart with your time in the kitchen? Share your time and sanity-saving tips with me for a chance to win $100 to Cooking.com.
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