As much as we enjoy cooking, it takes a lot of time. Meal planning, grocery shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up all snatch away our precious time. If you are in dire need of saving a bit of time in the kitchen, here’s a miscellany of ten of the best time-saving tips so you can spend more moments with family and friends, savoring the fruits of your cooking labors.

  1. Plan your meals.

Browse through the internet for recipes or your cookbook and compile them so you can grasp what meals you will prepare in the days ahead, ideally two to three days out of the week. In that way, you can anticipate the amount of leftovers you will consume on certain days. This is also your opportunity to plan how much of the ingredients you will use during preparation. Most importantly, don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, or you end up stocking up on unnecessary items, which will ruin your budget or your waist.

2. Wash fruits and vegetables before placing them in the fridge.

Washing your fruits and veggies ahead is better than washing them right before cooking. And wash them all at once rather than by batch. Fill the sink with cold water halfway and add a cup of white or cider vinegar, a tablespoon of baking soda and the juice of half a lemon. This will create a fizz, so place all your produce in the solution and wait for five minutes. Afterwards, scrub the skins of the root vegetables and rinse and dry the leafy greens in a salad spinner, while air drying the remainder on a tea towel before storing.

3. Cut up your vegetables ahead.

If you are preparing soups, salads and main dishes, cut your veggies for the week and store them in air-tight containers in the refrigerator. Only the utensils and instruments used for cutting, dicing, grating and chopping once are pulled out this way–and only once cleaned.

However, do not cut avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers or green leafy veggies ahead that are glowing, discoloring or weeping. They are best combined when freshly chopped.

4. Use a slow cooker.

A wonderful saver of time, place all the ingredients in a Crock-Pot before leaving home in the day and return to a delicious dinner.  But be careful about slow cooker recipes that call for canned soup because they are not the healthiest option. Make your own soup stock, instead, and freeze a supply of slow cooker meals.

5. Prepare seasonings in advance.

When a recipe requires you to use spice mixes and seasonings, measure out the spices and seasonings, seal them tightly in spice jars, and stash away when you need them. Remember to put labels on each of them and store in a cool, dry place away from direct heat.

6. Double your cooking portions.

Cook extra portions of salmon, turkey, beef, pork, chicken, rice, and quinoa so you can re-cook them into another meal for the remaining days. A little extra will help you get through the week and save time on other days.

7. Serve from the skillet.

Serve directly from the pan if you’re hosting a casual dinner party. It saves time transferring your meal to the serving dish (and later to wash the dish). Better yet, serve directlyfrom the stove. Pile plate and cutlery next to each other and you won’t even have to stop and set the table.

8. Delegate duties.

Assign other tasks to other members of your family. Or if you are hosting a dinner with some guests, assign other elements of the meal to them. Even something menial like cheese and crackers implies you’re going to have to worry about one less course.

9. Make lunches out of your leftovers from dinner.

Before putting everything away, prepare for your next day’s lunch by portioning up salads and making sandwiches from your leftovers so you will not have to take it all out again later.

10. Clean as you go.

As you prepare and cook meals, it’s simple to have dishes piled up, so clean up as you go. Load the dishwasher or clean cutting boards and other utensils as promptly as you have finished with them. This keeps your kitchen room tidy and at the end of the meal, cleaning can be managed.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash