6 Ways to Save Time in the Kitchen

Liz Krauseby Liz Krause, SimpleItalianCooking.com

Whether a single parent or not, the reality is that there are mouths to feed, and stomachs to fill. With a busy schedule and daily responsibilities, it is easy to find yourself wondering where you will find the time to cook a decent meal for you and your family. Unfortunately, it is often too easy to pick up the phone and order carry out pizza while on the way home.

Here are six steps you can take to make life in the kitchen a bit easier and less stressful.

1. Make Meal Planning a Weekly Family Event.

By getting family members involved in the meal planning process, you are removing the pressure of planning your meals and replacing it with quality time with your children, while still accomplishing your meal planning goals.

2. Organize Your Kitchen

Start by going through every drawer and cabinet and removing anything and everything you have not used in the last 12 months.

Place everything on a table and then decide which items you have rarely ever used and most likely will never use again. Donate these to a charity organization which can give them to other people who can use them. For items which you decide to keep, but rarely use, keep them together - either in a cabinet which is out of the way, or in boxes and put in storage. Remember to label the boxes.

3. Cook Once Eat Twice

If you really want to save time, make double the amount of food you would normally make for dinner. A perfect example is a lasagna, or other food items such as soups and chili which you can freeze for later. You are already taking the time to cook, so cook double the amount and save the extra portion for another night. Before you know it, you can have enough frozen dinners for an entire week!

4. Have a Pizza Night Every Friday

Everyone deserves a night off. Designating a particular night for ordering out - whether pizza or Chinese food or another family favorite - will help keep you focused on cooking throughout the earlier part of the week. Knowing a break is just around the corner will help you maintain a more positive attitude.

5. Reinvent Leftovers

Treasure those leftovers by creating a 3 day rule. The rule is, any leftover that is not eaten within 3 days will be tossed. By using this rule, you will be more likely to use the leftovers more rather than pushing them to the back of the refrigerator where they are forgotten.

Using leftovers does not mean having the same dish twice within 3 days - although that is fine too. What it can mean is using what is left over from one dish to create a completely new recipe. For example, if you prepare a dinner where rice is served on the side, and you have rice left over - you can use that left over rice in a casserole, soup, or even for rice pudding.

6. Buy in Bulk and Freeze in Portion Sizes

Often times, buying in bulk will cost less than buying multiple smaller quantities. This is especially common with meats. If your budget allows, purchase your meats, such as ground beef, in bulk. Instead of freezing all the meat in one huge block, break it up into 1 lb. portions. This way, when you have an idea for a recipe that calls for a pound or 2 of meat, you do not have to go and buy only that amount since you already have a workable package of meat in the freezer waiting for you.

Implementing some of these principles will help your time in the kitchen be more efficient and economical.

About the author:
Article contributed by Liz Krause who enjoys spending time in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes and cooking techniques. She writes reviews on various Italian kitchen products from a gelato ice cream maker, to using the Cuisinart 11 cup food processor for making Italian pizza dough or bread. She believes having an organized plan for cooking is an essential part to enjoying one's time while in the kitchen.