Having a family means endless cooking – or so it can seem! But with a bit of thought and planning, there are some cunning ways of cutting corners and saving time.
Planning your meals is key to the smooth running of the week. Thinking ahead once, and writing down your ideas will free up mind and prevent last-minute panics.
Make your menu simpler on those days you have less time to cook (e.g. fish fingers, boiled eggs, frozen pizza). Knowing your menu in advance also makes your shopping more effective, and saves you from buying unnecessary things or wasting food.
Cook in batches
Cook more than you need on the days you have more time.
For instance, making a Bolognese? Make double, and freeze half. Or if you’re chopping onions, chop a few extra for making a soup. Or if you’re doing a roast, use the hot oven to bake a cake or a big crumble to last the week.
It all saves energy and creates less washing up in the long-run. Just make sure you vacuum seal the meals to keep them fresh for longer, find best rated vacuum sealers for food.
Add another portion to the pot
Leftovers are the key to cutting time in the kitchen.
It doesn’t take much more time to boil double the rice, or cook a few more potatoes, and yet you’re reducing the workload for the next day’s meal preparations.
For instance, cold potatoes can be fried, made into a potato salad, or added to a Spanish Omelette. Cold rice can go in a stir fry, or in a salad.
Combine kids’ and adults’ meals
There are meals that both kids and adults can share, and like! Some families are able to eat together at the same time, others need a second sitting. Try not to make more work by cooking two separate meals.
Here are five easy meals to share or stagger:
1. Pasta with a sauce: once the sauce is made, it can be easily reheated, and fresh pasta made in ten minutes.
2. A risotto or kedgeree: keep it simple with not too many ingredients, and children will learn to love these family-friendly meals.
3. A roast: easy to cook and easy to reheat.
4. Pancakes: you can make savoury and/or sweet pancakes, and the batter keeps well for a second sitting. Add warm chicken, avocado, grated cheese, tomatoes, or fried mushrooms to make a delicious main course. Sprinkle sugar and lemon juice for a classic pudding. Spread honey, or chocolate spread on pancakes for an extra treat.
5. Baked potatoes. Use different fillings to suit different tastes (coleslaw, baked beans, grated cheese, prawns, tuna mayonnaise, salad).
One pot meals
Risotto, soup, paella, stews, casseroles, hotpots, tagines and bakes – these are all one-pot meals suitable for both adults and children. Recipes are often basic, and there’s not much to go wrong. Sometimes it’s a slow cook recipe, which you can do the night before and save time on the day. One pot also means less washing up!
What are your time saving kitchen secrets? Share your tips below, or send us your thoughts and comments at [email protected] with ‘Kitchen secrets’ in the subject line.