It’s no secret that order and organisation help us cope with the demands of daily life better. It is important to find what works best for you and your family. When it comes to the heart of the household, the kitchen, there are some great strategies for saving time in the kitchen, especially when it comes to preparing meals or clearing up.
Morning and evening time can see your kitchen area filled with all kinds of traffic, whether it is a crawling baby or an over-tired school child. In order to minimise the time spent in there and to effectively manage that time it is important to:
Learn by rote
Organise your equipment
Make sure your kitchen is effectively stocked with the equipment and ingredients you use on a regular basis. It is important to ensure that your cooking tools are located in an easy-to-reach spot, so that you don’t waste time trying to locate them.
Take the time to de-clutter your kitchen thoroughly and if necessary label cupboards and drawers with what items belong there. This way, other family members will know what expectations you have about where things need to go. It may be a time-consuming task when you do it, but it will save you a great deal of time in the kitchen in the long run.
Put all your weighing scales and measuring cups and jugs in one allocated section of your kitchen so that you can access them easily.
Instead of having a pile of cookbooks, photocopy your favourite recipes from them and store them in one single file that you keep in a kitchen drawer or cupboard.
Keep your bowls and plates together – it makes dishing out meals to everyone easier. For small children it is usually far less messy to serve their meals in bowls.
Get your knives sharpened regularly. Blunt knives can be dangerous and cause nasty cuts. Remember, to ensure the long life of your knives – don’t wash them in the dishwasher.
Stock up on your ingredients:
It is only sensible to have a variety of ingredients that keep well and can be used to whip up a meal at a moments’ notice. You lead a busy life and occasionally you will discover that the items you need to cook a dish you had on the menu simply aren’t at hand. So it is always good to have a variety of ingredients available so you can improvise if needed.
This is a base list of items that should always be stocked in your pantry and fridge. These standby items mean you will be able to create a variety of meals in a short time including soups, pasta dishes, omelettes and risotto:
selection of frozen meats
Learn 5 recipes off by heart
By learning 5 basic meal recipes off by heart you will save valuable time in the kitchen. Apart from avoiding the irritation of having to refer to a cookbook every few minutes to check whether you are preparing your meal properly, you will become very time efficient as well.
It is also useful to be able to fry, grill, sauté and bake confidently. These are simple cooking skills that will save you time in the kitchen in the long run if you are able to do them easily.
The benefit of learning 5 simple recipes is that it will get you through comfortably from Monday to Friday (typically the busiest days of the week). On the weekends it is a great time to share meal preparation with a partner and even hand over some easy tasks to the kids. However, during the week, having 5 simple recipes that you know off by heart, will save you valuable preparation and cooking time.
Leftovers can be an absolute blessing in disguise on some days. It is a useful strategy to cook double your usual meal portions at least twice a week and freeze them. They can then be taken out on days where you simply don’t have the time or energy to prepare a meal.
Stews, braised meats and tomato-based dishes usually freeze well and will often taste better when cooked a second time.
Every family is different and, as your little ones grow, the demands on your time will change as well. These practical time-saving kitchen tips are ones that are easy to implement and will make it easier to manage the juggle of parenthood.