We all know that stocking up on ingredients and preparing them at home is the cheaper way to go. However, when it takes an hour of your precious time every night, the “wallet-friendly option” becomes a hard sell. While the time-consuming nature of preparing home-cooked meals every night can drive some people to distraction, it can just as easily push others to fast-food money pits. We’ve put together a quick list of five easy improvements you can make in the kitchen that’ll take the time out of your cooking, allowing you to spend it your way:
Better Tools for the Job
Take a quick inventory of what you’re cooking with. Did you know that good quality cookware delivers better heat distribution than the average cheap pots and pans? By upgrading your kitchen hardware, you’ll actually be able to cook hotter and faster without fear of scorching your food. If you’re used to nursing the meat around the pan or waiting an age for the water to reach boiling point, a better set of stove-top equipment will be your ticket to faster food, without resorting to “fast-food.”
Pre-Prep for the Week
If the first thing you do when you get home from the grocery store is load everything into the fridge, freezer or pantry and promptly forget about it until mealtime, you cost yourself more time than you may even realize. If you know you have four dinners planned for the week ahead with the same chopped onions, you can save a lot of time and effort by preparing them all in one hit. Then, when you need them, they’re pre-cut and ready to go straight into the pot. By preparing your meat and veggies for the week ahead, you not only save time cooking but also from cleaning up.
Ducks in a Row
Are you the kind of cook who always has that quick scramble through the fridge or pantry looking for the right sauces or seasoning while three pans are sizzling away behind you? You will have a much better time by organizing every single thing you’ll need into one place, ready to go, before starting the cooking processes. If it helps, you can pretend you’re a TV chef introducing all of the necessary ingredients needed for the meal you’re about to put together. At the very least, you’ll keep the family entertained!
Do you ever have that thought in the middle of the day, “I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer…”? It happens to the best of us. One handy tip is to have a bowl in the fridge that you always use for thawing, so the routine becomes less about remembering to take things out of the fridge and more about “filling the bowl” before you leave for work.
Clean As You Go
Another time drain of cooking is that when it’s all over, you’re usually left with a whole sink full of pots and pans, let alone the bowls or plates you’ve just filled with freshly cooked food. By keeping up with cleaning as you’re cooking (even just rinsing out a saucy pan, so it doesn’t dry hard), you can shave precious minutes off your total tally.
Putting these simple fixes into action should see you cutting down on cooking time, making for more time doing what makes you happy – even if that’s just lounging in front of the TV. You’ve earned it.