It can be so hard to put time aside to cook properly. Then there are those breakfasts and packed lunches that are all too often rushed and stressful. So here are a few ways to spread the load and help save time.
1. Chop veg
Chop veg the day before using it and store in the fridge, so you only have the cooking to do on the day. If you’re worried about losing vitamins, take off stalks and ends in advance so it’s only the last bit of chopping that remains.
2. Make batches
On Sundays make batches of sandwich fillings, like tuna and sweetcorn or egg mayonnaise. Keep it tightly covered in the fridge so you can bung it into sandwiches during the week in a flash.
3. Freeze fish individually
Keep fish individually wrapped in the freezer, so you can cook it straight from frozen when you’re short of time.
4. Weigh out ingredients
Weigh out ingredients for a recipe and grease any dishes you’ll need a day in advance, to save time when you actually make it. It’ll give you time to notice if you’re short of anything, and give you a head start on the recipe because you’ll already know what you’re doing.
5. Wash fruit in bulk
Wash fruit in a colander altogether on the day you buy it, to save time washing individual pieces during the week.
6. Prepare sauce bases
Sauce basics like onions can be fried and kept chilled, ready for when you’re going to use them. Cook in advance so it’s only the meat you’re adding on the day.
7. Plan meals
Plan the meals you’re going to cook a week in advance. Check what ingredients you need for the recipes, and put them on the shopping list. This way you’ll avoid food waste and time-consuming trips to buy items you’re missing. Here’s a meal planner with some cheap and easy recipes from MyFamilyClub.
8. Smart fridge storage
Store items in the fridge by category for easy access, like keeping jars on the top shelf and sandwich fillings on another. Things you use less often can be kept at the back, to save hunting through everything when you’re in a hurry.
9. Make double batches
Pasta sauces can be made in double batches and frozen, so it’s only the spaghetti you have to cook on the day. Defrost sauces the night before.
10. Freeze basics
Keep items like bread and milk in the freezer, to save time stocking up mid-week. Take them out the day before you need them. Follow these smart freezer usage tips for other items too.
11. Help kids help themselves
Make items that the kids help themselves to easily accessible for them, and away from where you make breakfast/packed lunches. This way you’re not on top of each other, and they can get on with having breakfast independently.
12. Microwave to avoid mess
Microwave messy items like sauces, custard, porridge and rice. This will avoid burnt on saucepans, or having to constantly stir things as they cook. Make sure you use extra large bowls though, as things can bubble up a lot more than you’d expect.
13. Season meat in advance
Season meat when you have time and store in the fridge ready for cooking. Not only will the flavour soak through, but it’ll keep the meat fresher for longer too.
Next step: the cleaning after dinner! Take out a look at these tips on how to save time cleaning the kitchen.