10 Tricks to Save Time in the Kitchen
Cooking is by far one of my favorite things. I love experimenting with new recipes, flipping through cookbooks and playing with flavor profiles. The only problem is that sometimes I’m short on time and cleaning, prepping and cooking can take more time than I have. I’ve discovered a few tricks that can help me streamline the process, save ingredients and really just make cooking even more enjoyable and practical. Here are a few tricks to try:
1. Wash, Cut and Bag your veggies
You might have heard that you shouldn’t wash your fruits or vegetables until you’re about to use them to extend their life but I’ve found that having everything cleaned and prepped makes me a more likely to use them in a pinch. I keep tomatoes on the counter but almost every other veggie gets prepared for the week, even cut if that’s how I’m planning on using it. I go to the farmers market every Saturday so I’ve been making in a point to clean everything before it gets put away. Leafy greens get washed, wrapped in paper towels and into labeled bags which you can re-use week after week.
<2. Chop garlic and onions
Not as good as fresh but much better than grabbing powdered onions or garlic when you’re short on time. The next time you find yourself chopping onions or garlic take some time to make a large batch and then freeze some in baggies in the freezer.
3. Freeze Fresh Herbs
I have a bad tendency of buying fresh herbs and then not using them all in time before they go bad. Instead of throwing them out save them before they brown. Just chop them finely and but them in an ice cube tray with a bit of olive oil or melted butter – all you need is a little there’s no need to fill it all the way. The next time you sauté some veggies just toss in one of these cubes as the base.
4. Save Egg whites.
Every once in a while I make things that requires egg yolks and no whites. Instead of tossing the white sometimes I cook it up in some pastured butter for my egg white loving daughter but you can also freeze individual whites in an ice cube tray for future use. Once they’re frozen simply take them out and save them in a bag in the freezer.
5. Get more Juice out of your lemons
Before cutting them and squeezing the juice out roll them around on the counter for a few few second to help loosen up the juices. This can help you get up to double the amount of juice.
6. Cook Once, Eat Twice
When you cook dinner make enough for lunch the next day too. I do this with pancakes too. We make a ton of different pancakes- everything from spinach to blueberry and they make great snacks so I double the batch and freeze the leftovers to throw in the toaster whenever I need them.
7. Have a few meals in the freezer.
If you’re putting together something like a casserole or seasoning some protein it may be worth it to make a double, or triple batch. Keeping an extra casserole in the freezer or some pre-seasoned protein you can throw into a slow cooker frozen will help you save loads of time on days you know you’ll be home late. Just take the casserole out of the freezer when you wake up in the morning to cook when you get home or toss your frozen or thawed pre-seasoned protein into a slow cooker in the morning and you’ll come home to a delicious dinner. Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes also keep really well in the freezer- just cut and season before freezing. I do this a lot with sweet potato fries that I can toss in the oven from frozen. Simple lay flat to freeze so they don’t all clump together while freezing.
8.Have Snacks Ready to Go
If your veggies are already cleaned and cut you can even take it a set further and put them into individual containers to grab on your way out. Make a batch of hummus and separate it for the week or store individual servings of trail mix in ready to grab containers. Since moving we’ve implemented a snack box for my daughter so now if we’re going somewhere and she wants to take a snack all I have to do is let her open the fridge or pantry and choose her own snack. It’s been such a huge help. Read this post to learn all about the snack box.
9. Make a Meal Plan
Knowing what you’re going to cook when saves you a ton of time. It helps you streamline your shopping list, cuts down on the times you spend staring into your fridge wondering what to make for dinner and can give you direction on what you should prep ahead of time. The shorter you are on time the simpler you’ll want to keep ingredient lists.
10. Keep a running Shopping List
If I don’t have a list I’m almost guaranteed to forget something when I go grocery shopping. I’ve been out of olive oil for almost a week now because I keep forgetting to take my list and don’t remember it until I’m back home ready to cook. Keeping an ongoing list taped to your fridge lets you jot everything down as you run out and then you just need to grab it on your way out.