The thought of spending hours each night in the kitchen is something I’m sure you look forward to every day, isn’t it? I mean who doesn’t spend their day thinking about how long it’s going to take to make dinner after working a 9-5 job or taking care of the kids all day or driving them around to all of their practices? In fact, I can hear your squeal and sheer delight all the way over here in Raleigh!
Ha! Yeah right! As much as I love cooking, I wish there was a way I could just think of what I wanted and poof! It’s on the table. Since you and I both know that isn’t going to happen, I wanted to share 3 ways that have been a complete lifesaver for me when it comes to cooking and cutting down on the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen each night cooking dinner.
3 ways to cut down on kitchen time
Out of all the things you can do to make your life easier in the kitchen, this is the biggest and most important! I used to make dinner flying by the seat of my pants. While at work, I’d look at Pinterest or think of something to make for dinner that night. After work, I’d go to the grocery store and then go home to cook. We were eating so late and it had to stop!
A few years ago, I started planning out meals and goodness, I can’t tell you the difference it made! I mean who wants to eat dinner at 8:00 pm every night?
On Saturdays or Sundays, I sit down and plan out what we’ll eat. I cook 6-7 nights each week so I plan about 9 meals. Why 9? The other 2 or 3 are something quick and easy or something we eat often that won’t take much effort, like having to follow a recipe, in case E or I have to work late. This way we can eat a healthy meal and not have to go out to eat and waste money when we have a kitchen full of food!
E doesn’t like to get too fancy or experiment when it comes to food, but I’m the complete opposite! So I have to come up with meals that are a combination so both of us get what we want. Below are the steps I take when planning our meals. I plan 2 weeks at a time. We’re finicky eaters so I don’t want to plan too far ahead.
- I grab my meal planning sheet (which you can download by getting access to the BTTS Home Printables Library below. Enter your name and email address in the boxes at the end of this blog post.)
- I write down our quick + easy favorite meals
- If nothing sounds great off the top of my head, I grab a couple of cookbooks I have as well as go to my Pinterest boards to see if I see anything.
- I write down what meal we’ll be having on each day. Now, mind you, just because I write seafood enchiladas for Tuesday, doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind by the time I get home and decide I want seafood and chicken gumbo that I wrote down for Saturday.
- I write down what I’ll need to buy on my shopping list and that’s it!
Are these steps easy? Yes. Meal planning isn’t hard. It’s the time it takes to do it. So set aside about an hour. If you’re a Couponer, this will also give you the chance to grab your coupons as well as shop for the best deals! I’ve even got an easy meal planner available in the Home Printables Library you can download by entering your name and email address in the boxes at the end of this post.
Okay so now that you’ve planned your meals and gone to the grocery store, it’s time to start cutting! It seems no matter what I cook, it involved the need to cut up something; that can be herbs, vegetables, meat, whatever it is, cut it up early. While I find it therapeutic, it takes so much time! Who am I kidding? The prep work with cooking any meal is what takes a lot of time, wouldn’t you agree?
Because of the time involved, I look at each meal and decide on what I will need to cut up. I cut everything up and place it in plastic bags in my refrigerator. When I need it, I just go to the refrigerator, use what I need and place the bag back in the fridge for the next time!
3. Season + Package
It’s time to get any meats prepared as much as you can so that all you have to do is grab them. When I look at my meal planning sheet, I go ahead and season the meats I’m going to use over the next 2 days. Anything longer than that, I go ahead and season, but I place it in the freezer.
When it’s time to cook, guess what? I grab it out of the fridge and cook! 🙂
For the meats I seasoned and placed in the freezer, the night before I need them, I place them in a bowl and put the bowl in the refrigerator to let them thaw out.
Y’all, that’s it! That’s what I do. It allows me or E to get home and get dinner on the table at a decent time!
What do you do to make sure you aren’t in the kitchen all night after a long day so you can have dinner at a decent time?
P.S. Don’t forget to download your printable meal planner by entering your name and email address in the boxes below so you have access to it and all of the BTTS Home printables.
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