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How to Cut Down On Kitchen Time Each Night

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

1. Plan

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?

Meal Planning

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.

2. Cut 

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!  ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  You can learn more about my disclosures here.

 My Favorite Tools to Help Me Spend Less Time in the Kitchen


See ya later!

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89 Comments… add one
  • Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups 08/24/2017, 7:35 AM

    Great tips! I am a big fan of meal planning. During the week I tend to go quick and simple dinners. On the weekends I’ll do more elaborate meals that make leftovers we can use for lunches.
    Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups recently posted…Green chile chicken stewMy Profile

  • robin rue 08/24/2017, 7:49 AM

    I have been thinking about meal planning. I haven’t been able to get my head in the game to actually do it yet, but I want to ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dianne 08/24/2017, 7:57 AM

    I am busy meal planning – my first time ever. So glad you shared this because I now know it’s not just me.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:36 PM

      Good luck Dianne. I hope it goes well for you!

  • Vanessa 08/24/2017, 8:00 AM

    Great tips! Will have to try these out! Thanks!

  • Nicole Kauffman 08/24/2017, 8:01 AM

    Such great tips. I try so hard to find ways to make the cooking process faster and easier! Planning is the hardest for me!

  • Alli Smith 08/24/2017, 8:09 AM

    Cutting the veggies, etc is relaxing for me. I always look forward to the prep work. Planning the menu is something I don’t enjoy and these tips will really help.
    Alli Smith recently posted…Brick Loot is the Best Subscription Box for KidsMy Profile

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:36 PM

      The planning is my favorite part of the whole process. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • candy 08/24/2017, 8:25 AM

    You hit on the two key ways to cut down on cooking. Planning and prep ahead of time. We like to cook once and eat several times.

  • Heather 08/24/2017, 8:42 AM

    Planning is key. Once the kids go back to school I’m going to fill my freezer with pre-marinated meats and casseroles.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:35 PM

      I haven’t tried the casseroles, Heather. Does that work well?

  • Alyx 08/24/2017, 8:46 AM

    These are great ideas!
    Before grocery shopping, my E and I come up with what proteins we want to eat that week. Usually try to do chicken/turkey 1-2 nights, beef/pork 1 night, and seafood 1 night. Fridays are wildcard. We either go to our favorite local restaurant, or we make breakfast for dinner!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:34 PM

      I love having breakfast for dinner!

  • Amanda 08/24/2017, 9:14 AM

    I am definitely going to try this. When I meal prep I usually spend all day cooking, and then freeze them, so that I can just pop it in the microwave and just go. I am going to try your tip about seasoning and packaging. I think I will try to alternate between the two and see how that goes. Thanks!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:34 PM

      Ooooh Amanda, please let me know if that works well. I wouldn’t mind trying that out! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sarah Bailey 08/24/2017, 9:15 AM

    These are some great tips, I have to admit I struggle standing for long so anything that can help cut down the time I spend in the kitchen is amazing for me.
    Sarah Bailey recently posted…5 Safety Checks to Prepare your Car for a Road TripMy Profile

  • Tomi C 08/24/2017, 9:21 AM

    I definitely plan ahead. It helps save money AND time. We also use our crock pot a lot. I can put a roast in the crockpot on low at breakfast and come home to a delicious dinner.
    Tomi C recently posted…Back to School with BICยฎ Gel-ocityยฎ Quick Dry Gel Pens #BICGelocityMy Profile

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:32 PM

      I love my crock pot, but I usually only use it in the cooler months.

  • Heather 08/24/2017, 9:46 AM

    These are awesome tips! I love meal planning but it is very time consuming. I get so distracted looking at all the beautiful recipes on Pinterest so I have to make myself stay focused. School starts back next week so I’ll be diving right back into meal planning.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:32 PM

      Hahaha, Heather, I am the same way! Pinterest sucks me in so quickly! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jeanette 08/24/2017, 9:49 AM

    This is something that I really need to do. Usually when I get home in the afternoon I just don’t want to do anything. I need to take the time out once a week to cut up everything and get everything marinated.
    Jeanette recently posted…Korean BBQ RibsMy Profile

  • Kristi 08/24/2017, 10:09 AM

    I love too cook too but would love to cut down my time in the kitchen! Great tips!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:30 PM

      Thanks, Kristi!

  • Nicole 08/24/2017, 10:18 AM

    Love this! I really want to start meal planning, but I still live with my parents and we are NOT on the same page about that. My mom likes to make her decisions about what to make for dinner all week while she’s IN the grocery store, and procrastinate all day because she hates cooking ๐Ÿ™‚ If I were on my own, I would plan exactly like you. Can’t wait for that day!!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:30 PM

      Thanks, Nicole and you’ll be all prepared when that day comes! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kristi File 08/24/2017, 10:25 AM

    Love these tips! I’m SO not a planner but I really need to get on board with this. I’d love to spend a little less time in the kitchen each day! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:31 PM

      Depending on what I”m cooking, this can save me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Even longer if it’s something that needs to marinate. So worth it!

  • Sam 08/24/2017, 10:34 AM

    Cutting ahead of time is the ticket for me! Great advice!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:29 PM

      Thanks, Sam!

  • Anosa 08/24/2017, 11:36 AM

    My mum always used to plan the meals for the week, cut up the veggies in advance and always seasoned and put in the fridge. I want to start doing that too

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:29 PM

      You’ll be so glad you did, Anosa!

  • Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries 08/24/2017, 12:16 PM

    These are great tips. I actually cut up all the veggies last night I was using for a salad – now it’s all done for the next few days and it will make dinner so much easier!!
    Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries recently posted…5 Songs That Helped Make Me the Woman I Am Today | Megan SmidtMy Profile

  • Cherryl Ehlenburg 08/24/2017, 12:32 PM

    Great tips! I can only be guilty of doing #1, but since I work at home, I look at my meal plan each morning and do whatever prep work I need to do. If it’s not done ahead of time, I find myself not wanting to deal with dinner in the evening, and we end up just snacking or ordering out, neither of which is that good for us!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:28 PM

      That sounds like our Saturday nights, Cherryl! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jolina 08/24/2017, 12:46 PM

    Planning definitely helps us a lot. We usually do all the prepping/cooking on a Saturday or Sunday morning so when the workweek comes around, there’s very little for us to do apart from heating and eating!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:27 PM

      I try to do mine early Sunday morning so I can enjoy the rest of the day and get out of the grocery store before it gets too busy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms 08/24/2017, 2:18 PM

    Yes! I love these! I’m so grateful that my mom taught me to plan meals this way! We always have some precut and cooked chicken in the freezer for meals we just want to throw together and I plan the week’s meals out ahead of time. It makes such a difference!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:25 PM

      That’s great Vicki! You’re right. It makes a huge difference.

  • Amber Myers 08/24/2017, 3:58 PM

    Thank you for this. I HATE being in the kitchen. I really should start planning more often. And cutting. I admit, I normally buy stuff already chopped from the store. So much easier.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:25 PM

      Nothing wrong with that, Amber. The name of the game is cut down the time in the kitchen. I’m so glad you found something that works well for you!

  • Jessica Devlin 08/24/2017, 4:44 PM

    Great tips! We have a plan for the week and do all our prep on Sunday. it works great

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:24 PM

      It sure does Jessica. I’ve even gotten my husband into the habit of doing so! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Paula @ I'm Busy Being Awesome 08/24/2017, 7:49 PM

    Wonderful tips! I love the idea of prep ahead, especially the season/package suggestion:)

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:23 PM

      Thanks, Paula!

  • Rachel 08/24/2017, 8:47 PM

    These are great tips! I’ve always done the planning part but still end up spending forever in the kitchen. I’m going to start having to do the prep work early!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:22 PM

      That’s where I always seem to spend the most of my time cooking Rachel and always though, there has to be a better way! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Paula A Bendfeldt Diaz 08/24/2017, 9:25 PM

    These are all such great tips. Preparing things ahead of time is a great way to make sure you can get dinner ready quickly!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:23 PM

      Yes, Paula because eating dinner at 8 pm is no fun and definitely not healthy!

  • Sarah 08/24/2017, 9:59 PM

    Such great tips that I am definitely going to try!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Marysa 08/24/2017, 10:03 PM

    These are great tips – you are quite organized! I really need to do some real meal-planning instead of all the chaos that ends up happening during the week.
    Marysa recently posted…Locker Accessories for GirlsMy Profile

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:21 PM

      I try to be, Marysa! The weeks I don’t do this I truly pay for it. hahaha

  • Lisa 08/24/2017, 11:12 PM

    These are great tips. I am good about doing a meal plan each week but when it comes to prepping ahead, I tend to fall short.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:20 PM

      It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes, Lisa. I do the same thing for our lunches too!

  • Heather Gilbert 08/25/2017, 3:10 AM

    This…. this is what I need help with. I am home with the girls all day long, yet somehow I still cannot seem to place a healthy meal on the table. The planning session alone defeats me, and I don’t know why – I bullet journal and plan everything else out, but not that. I have to figure it out. The tip to cut things prior, and store it, may help me more than I want to admit.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:19 PM

      I do hope it helps, Heather. There are also times if I have been lazy and don’t prep ahead of time, I do extra. In other words, if I am making a dish that has onions, I go ahead and just cut up the whole onion then and place it in the fridge. I’m already cutting it so why not just save some time later? When I buy large packages of meat at the grocery store, I grab some plastic bags and break it up then rather than waiting until later. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

  • Our Family World 08/25/2017, 5:47 AM

    I am with you in preparing the meat by marinating it and keeping it in the freezer. Then thaw, put it in the crockpot in the morning, add veggies, and voila. Dinner ready when I get home. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:16 PM

      The crockpot is almost all I use in the Fall and Winter. It’s great to come home to a house that smells so good!

  • Jennifer G 08/25/2017, 11:38 AM

    I love the idea of cutting down on my time in the kitchen. While I do love to cook, I also love to make sure that I have enough time to enjoy life with my kids, take them to their extracurriculars etc. This is perfect.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:12 PM

      Oh, great Jennifer! I’m glad you found them helpful.

  • Mommy Moment 08/25/2017, 12:21 PM

    Thanks for these great tips! I dread spending time in the kitchen prepping and cleaning up while my family is enjoying time together in the living room.

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:12 PM

      I know exactly what you mean, Jody. And when you have guests!

  • Kate 08/25/2017, 1:04 PM

    I absolutely do the first two tips, but need to try seasoning and packaging. What a great idea!
    Kate recently posted…Temptation Begins with an Apple from South TyrolMy Profile

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:11 PM

      Thanks, Kate! Whatever I can do to cut back on the time! hahaha

  • Jacqui Odell 08/25/2017, 1:40 PM

    I have such a busy afternoon/evening with kids. These are great tips!!

    • Lynn 08/25/2017, 4:11 PM

      Thanks, Jacqui! I hope they help!

  • Jaime Nicole 08/25/2017, 8:49 PM

    Planning definitely helps me shave time off. I love your idea of chopping everything at once- that would save me a ton of time!

  • Britney 08/26/2017, 1:22 PM

    Thank heaven for this great advice! I am all about tying to make the kitchen and easier space for my followers! I was already implementing the planning and packaging but never thought to chop or season! Great insight and article!

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 2:05 PM

      Thanks, Brittney! It truly makes a big difference. Just open the frig, add it to whatever you’re cooking and that’s it!

  • ChrissyAdventures 08/26/2017, 2:39 PM

    I love the idea of per-seasoning. Why I have never done this. I don’t know. I’m going to start though.

  • Kasia Olszewski 08/26/2017, 5:46 PM

    As a soon to be college student who’s moving in with her best friend, these are great tips! I’ve been trying to cut back unnecessary used time and I’ve been trying to be more organized. Being in the kitchen is the longest part of my day. I cook daily for my mother, my best friend, and myself. Let me tell you, even though there are only three of us, the dishes alone are the worst part of my day. Planning meals and prepping ahead is definitely the way to cut back on kitchen time. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 2:04 PM

      Kasia, being in the kitchen is the longest part of my day after work. Ha! I’m with you on that – I don’t like dishes either.

  • Jessica 08/26/2017, 6:04 PM

    These are great tips. I like that you have the easy meals as backup in case you have to work late. My saving grace is also meal planning and cleaning and repackaging all the fruits, veggies, and meats.

  • Shevoneese McFarlane 08/26/2017, 6:06 PM

    Great tips. Meal Planning is a necessity not only to save time but money as well. I would love to do meal planning myself but I never seem to find the time. I work every day. Both 9-5 and side hustles.

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 2:03 PM

      Couldn’t agree more, Shevoneese! We’ve saved so much by buying what we need and not what we “think” we need!

  • Shell 08/26/2017, 8:08 PM

    What a fabulous idea to pre chop your food so it’s ready to go during the week!!! That’s a huge time saver!!

  • Allison 08/26/2017, 10:38 PM

    Love these tips! I usually meal plan before I go grocery shopping! My husband is the picky one too!

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 2:01 PM

      Thanks, Allison!

  • jacqueline garcia 08/27/2017, 12:57 AM

    these are some really good ideas (: nothing better than spending more time doing other things then cleaning up for two hours

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 2:01 PM

      Thanks, Jacqueline! And I couldn’t agree more.

  • Annemarie LeBlanc 08/27/2017, 2:00 AM

    You are so right. Chopping and cutting do take a whole lot of time. I chop my veggies the night before and seal them in zip lock bags. I thaw the meat the night before and in the morning, they go into my crock pot! Easy peasy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 2:01 PM

      That’s great Annemarie. Who would ever think such a simple task takes up so much time?!

  • Thena 08/27/2017, 1:46 PM

    Love the tips, thank you for sharing!!

  • Kait Around The Kingdom 08/28/2017, 12:27 AM

    These are great tips! I always like cutting back on time any chance I can!

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 1:59 PM

      Thanks, Kait!

  • Erica valentin 08/28/2017, 6:00 AM

    I soooooooo need to plan because I feel like I spend 4 hours every night in the kitchen and nothing else ever gets done!!!

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 1:59 PM

      Yes, Erica! I hated coming home from work, cooking, and then it was soon time for bed because I was so exhausted!

  • Gayathri 08/28/2017, 9:29 AM

    I hate having to have the dinner so late cuz I have to go shopping just before the kitchen time. Yeah I have to start planning.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

    • Lynn 08/28/2017, 1:58 PM

      Oh my goodness, yes Gayathri. I hate to say it, but many years ago, I would have dinner sometimes at 9 pm because of that!

  • Rachel Lavern 08/28/2017, 6:21 PM

    I actually hate to cook any meal; however, it probably does make senses to plan ahead. I purchase most of ingredients already chopped, etc. to save some time.

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