The last few months I’ve felt like I’m in some kind of after-work flurry almost every day. My season of life has adjusted to a time where I’m working more hours and spending time in a longer commute every night. While I highly value cooking at home, working out, and having a little free time (especially to spend outside now that the weather’s nice) I was finding it hard to get all of this in! I quickly realized I may need to adjust my priorities. This might meant I had to start working a few more frozen vegetables into my meals, purchasing minced garlic in olive oil instead of fresh, and cooking in bulk.
I’ve found that sometimes it is worth it to me to spend a little extra for convenience (think precut vegetables) and save a little time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still all about keeping an affordable grocery budget, but I’ve realized that different times may call for a need to spend a little more to save sanity in life!
I think time saving kitchen tips is a message we are all looking for. Here are a few of my favorite ways I save time in the kitchen so I can allocate more time elsewhere!
Timing Saving Kitchen Tips
Buy precut or frozen vegetables.
One night a while back, I got off work and needed to swing by the grocery before I got home to start dinner. I was walking down the produce aisle when I happened upon some precut vegetables on manager’s special. I’ll never forget that moment, I gave myself permission to purchase precut vegetables that night. It was a sudden weight off my shoulders!! That wasn’t the first time. Since then I’ve done it a few other times when I knew I was in a hurry, but still wanted to get a healthy home-made, veggie packed dinner on the table.
My natural instinct is to save every chance I can get. However, this isn’t always the right choice for me. I’m learning sometimes it is definitely worth it to spend a little money to save a little time! So, next time you are in a hurry to get dinner to the table, consider buying precut (or frozen) veggies!
Budget Alternative: If you have the time overall in your life, but just not right at dinner time, then you can wash and precut your vegetables. While you’re at it you could even freeze them yourself.
Order groceries online for pickup or delivery.
Again, in the past year I gave myself permission to order my groceries online. There are tons of great options for this. At many stores, including some Krogers and Wal Marts, you can order online for pickup. When I had Amazon Prime, I have ordered groceries a couple times both from Amazon as well as Fresh Thyme. It worked great! The prices for Fresh Thyme seem comparable to what they charge in the store. I spend enough time commuting to/from work everyday, so I was happy to spend a little extra and save myself a trip across town as well as time shopping at the store.
While it may cost a few extra dollars to have your groceries delivered or you may miss sales by ordering online, I find that I 100% stick to my plan when I order online. Last minute purchases or add ons aren’t nearly as tempting, so if that’s a struggle for you then you might actually end up helping your grocery budget! Also, don’t discount the money you’re saving in gas if you live more than a couple minutes from the nearest grocery.
One Pot Meals
These can be a huge time saver not only in cooking time, but also in CLEAN UP TIME. And who doesn’t want to cut down on clean up time? Probably Casey, because for some strange reason he actually enjoys doing the dishes.
This won’t be the last time I say it: learn to love soup. There is really nothing easier. On the stove or in the crock pot, it’s easy and uses minimal dishes. Which brings me to my next one…
Whether you’re using it to cook a one pot dish such as soup, your entire meal (veggies and meat), or just meat, the crock pot wins every award in my book for saving time. Check out this honey garlic chicken recipe for a super simple slow cooker recipe made with real ingredients.
If you’re on the 2017 trend and have an Instant Pot (here is the one I have and LOVE) you can save time without having to plan ahead or turn it on in the morning.
Skip the meat.
Many vegetarian meals go really fast. You don’t have to deal with marinading/preparing and cooking meat! If you are using beans you can always try freezing them ahead of time (or buy canned to save time overall).
Double or triple it!
This is my go-to time saving tip in the kitchen. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before and I know this won’t be the last. Leftovers, and especially leftover soups, are your friend! You can eat them for a few days now to save time this week OR freeze them to use a few weeks later. I love it when I have meals ready to go in the freezer! When I go to pull them out for dinner I always feel like it’s a “Freebie.”
Skip the garnish.
Those fancy garnishes? Not necessary. Need I say more? Keep it simple! Just last week I made these delicious Bangkok Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls (with a few modifications, because I love broccoli so why not triple it)? Anyway, while I love that the purple cabbage it was supposed to be topped with would’ve provided us with more variety of nutrients, in an effort to save time I just didn’t pick this ingredient up. Sure, they weren’t as pretty, but they were still just as delicious!
Shred meat with a hand blender.
Thank you to my sensible Casey for teaching me this one! He really is handy sometimes. This has saved me so much tedious time!! No more words are needed. Only gratitude for this kitchen hack, which just might be one of my favorites.
Indulge in time-saving kitchen gadgets.
My husband kind of favors a minimalist approach to life. And in theory, I do too. Or I want to. But then there’s kitchen gadgets, and while I don’t want my kitchen completely overflowing, there are a few time saving tools that I find useful enough to mention in this post:
- Immersion Blender – great for blending soups without having to throw them into the larger blender. Can simply stick it in the pot of soup and wa-la!
- Food Processor – Cut large quantities of vegetables at once and freeze.
- Egg Slicer– admittedly I don’t have this. I just used my mom’s a couple of weekends ago and it’s on my list. I plan to pick one up next time I head to the store!
Substitute fresh garlic, spices, and ginger.
When I have time, I love to purchase fresh garlic, ginger, and spices. However, lately I’ve realized preparing these things can drain my time. For times when I’m rushed, I purchase minced garlic in a jar (look for containers with just garlic and olive oil); squeezable ginger like this; and substitute dried spices for fresh.
With these time saving kitchen tips, I hope that you are able to make healthy eating more of a priority or perhaps relieve some stress you were causing yourself by thinking that you have to do absolutely everything from scratch overtime. What are your favorite time saving tips in the kitchen?
For more information on time effective cooking strategies check out my post on Making Weeknight Dinners Happen.
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