Last week, I posted about freezer meals, which are a GREAT way to save time in the kitchen. I have a few more tips I’ve learned over the years that I want to share in case you aren’t already doing them! These are great for everyone, but particularly helpful for those of you who don’t have a lot of time to devote to food prep but still want to cook frequently and have a clean kitchen.
- Prep your veggies and meat when you get home from the store
If you know you’re going to be making a soup, stir-fry and a roast later in the week, wash, peel and cut all of your vegetables ahead of time. Trim and divide all of your meat right away. Prepping ahead of time can cut your cooking time in half when it comes time to make the meal. When my kids are running around like crazy at 5pm when I’m trying to get dinner started, being able to pull everything out of the fridge already cut up is a HUGE time-saver and saves you a lot of clean-up time on cooking nights, too.
- Make a double batch when you’re cooking
Whether you’ll use an extra batch for leftovers the next day (that’s usually what happens around here!) or freeze them for a future meal, making a double batch of whatever you’re cooking will give you an easy second meal for no extra work!
- Plan to make “take two” meals
I try to make one meal a week that can be turned into a second meal (and not as leftovers). For example, when we make crock pot chicken tacos (4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, one large jar of your favorite salsa and a ½ cup of water on low all day, then shred), I use the leftover chicken in quesadillas, salads or soups at least one more time over the next few days. Great way to stretch your dollar.
- Buy limes and lemons and freeze the juice in covered ice cube trays
A GREAT tip from A Bowl Full of Lemons (have you read her blog? You should!) on Instagram @abowlfulloflemons. Her example used lemons, but we cook with lime juice a lot so I used limes first. So many great recipes call for lemon or lime juice (guacamole, garlic-lime fajitas) but we don’t always have limes on-hand. Until now! Buy 10-12 lemons or limes on sale, juice them into a bowl, and pour into a covered ice cube tray (most are about 1oz, or 2 tbsp) and pop into the freezer. Once frozen, pop the cubes out and drop them into a zip-top bag and return to the freezer. Pull a few out any time you need lime or lemon juice! I’ve heard this works well too with olive oil and herbs but haven’t tried that one yet. Next on my list!
- Bake extra potatoes to keep in the fridge or freezer
If you’re baking or grilling potatoes, you might as well throw another few in because they take a long time to cook and they’re cheap, so they’re a GREAT candidate for bulk cooking. What can you do with extra baked potatoes? Baked potato soup, hash browns for a weekend breakfast skillet (we’ve been LOVING this lately!), potato skins, potato salad…or any recipe that calls for already cooked potatoes. This will save you so much time later. Baked potatoes will last 5-7 days in the fridge and 6-8 months in the freezer. Just store them in zip-top bags and pull them out whenever you need them!
- Freeze cookie dough if you don’t want the whole batch at once
My kids LOVE to bake cookies, but I don’t like having a bunch of cookies calling my name all week from the counter. Over the last year, I’ve started to freeze the batch in thirds (bake a third, split the other 2/3 and freeze in cling wrap). When they want fresh baked cookies (they especially love to cut out sugar cookies and decorate), I just pull some out of the freezer and pop it into the fridge the night before and we can make cookies the next day. Alternatively, you can also bake the whole batch and freeze the baked cookies to pull out
sixone at a time for yourself. If you have more self-control than I do. 😉
- Run your dishwasher each night
This tip is for everyone with a dishwasher! When I had my first baby five years ago, I was so overwhelmed with dishes. BOTTLES EVERYWHERE. Then sippy cups everywhere. Since then, I fill and run my dishwasher every night and then empty it first thing in the morning. When you have an empty dishes throughout the day, just put them directly in the dishwasher. This will totally stop all accumulation of dishes on the counter (or couch, or floor) throughout the day.
- Clean up as you go
I hate sitting down to a meal and looking into a big messy kitchen because then all I can think about is having to clean it up. Instead of letting dishes accumulate on the counter or in the sink while you’re cooking, clean up as you go. Discard of scraps right away, put cutting boards and prep bowls directly into the dishwasher (or if you don’t have a dishwasher, into the sink to be washed), and wipe down your counters. It truly only takes a minute but saves you so much time after a meal.
Know someone who could use these tips? Feel free to pin, post or share! What are your favorite tips in the kitchen? Feel free to share below in the comments!