One of my goals for the new year was to find the areas in my life where I am wasting time. Then, I plan to find ways to minimize the time waste. One of my first areas to examine is my time spent in the kitchen. Ever since we found out about our food intolerances about 10 years ago, we’ve cooked almost all of our meals from scratch. However, we’ve been staying home since March when there was the COVID-19 shutdown, which means I’m cooking lots of lunches and dinners every week in addition to snacks. Frankly, I’m burned out, and this is sucking up a lot of my time. Throughout January, I’ve been tinkering with different strategies, and I’m happy to report I have reduced my time in the kitchen.
How I Reduced My Time in the Kitchen
There are several strategies I’m employing.
Have the Kids Cook Once a Week
Our kids are now 16.5, 12, and 10.5. They are more than capable of pitching in and helping to make some of the food.
To that end, PB & J Girl (12) has been making at least one or two of her snacks every weekend to last her throughout the week.
Cuddle Bug (10.5) has a cooking class via Zoom every Saturday morning. The meal she makes becomes our lunch Saturday afternoon. Last week she also made another meal during the week.
Bookworm (16.5) is working with me on Mondays to make dinner.
I’ll be honest, right now, having them cook isn’t saving me a ton of time. But we’re laying the groundwork, and I know in a few more months, I will definitely save time with this strategy. Cuddle Bug is a messy cook, so I spend a lot of time cleaning up after her, but I know that will get better with time. Bookworm is a hesitant, nervous cook, so right now I have to be in the kitchen with him when he cooks. However, once he masters a handful of recipes, I think he should be fine independently cooking.
Double Our Meals
I usually cook recipes that feed 6, and my family eats that all in one sitting. However, I’ve recently started doubling some of the recipes that I cook so that we’ll have another pan of the meal as leftovers to eat in a day or two. I think my family is okay with this strategy as long as I don’t do it for every meal. I love that there is one or two meals a week where I can escape the kitchen.
Prepping Food for Other Meals While Making a Meal
Another technique I’ve used recently is to prep the veggies I need for dinner while I’m making lunch. Then, the time I need to spend in the kitchen preparing dinner is reduced.
Use the Slow Cooker
I used to use the slow cooker a lot when we were gone from home for long hours, but since we’ve been home so much, I stopped using it. Now, I’m trying to make one or two slow cooker meals a week. I put the ingredients in while I’m preparing lunch, and then dinner is ready later without a fuss.
Slowly Fill the Freezer
I haven’t had a large freezer cooking session lately, but I’ve been slowly filling the freezer with single serve meals and full meals. Right now, I have two full meals of chili and one meal of Chalupa Salad meat in the freezer as well as two single-serve meals of Parker’s Split Pea Soup. Hopefully, I’ll slowly begin to increase those meals.
Since I have reduced my time in the kitchen, I am slowly getting more time back in my day. Now, I have to find other ways I waste my time during the day and attack those areas.
How do you save time in the kitchen?