Whether you are a cooking novice or the next Jamie Oliver, there are some days where the amount of time lost to grocery shopping, chopping, preparing and cooking your food makes it a chore. The task may seem so daunting that you end up surrendering to easy frozen meals filled with sodium or spending loads on takeout because, well, what other alternative do you have?
Don’t let the cook time keep you from making a great, healthy, budget-friendly meal at home. Whether you consider cooking a hobby or a simple means to solve your own hunger, your time is precious, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice it for a tasty meal. We’re sharing the top hacks that will help streamline some of the most time-consuming or tedious tasks in your kitchen.
Pre-Cut Your Fruits and Vegetables
It’s always a great idea to have fruits and vegetables easily accessible for a quick and healthy snack. Some tasty choices like kiwis, pomegranates, peppers and celery require a bit more effort than other grab-and-go snacks like apples or baby carrots. Rather than cutting them as needed, take the time to wash and chop your fruits and vegetables right when you return from the grocery store. While it’s a big chunk of time up front, it will save you from having to go through the process multiple times within a few days. If you your favourite fruit is particularly annoying to chop, consider purchasing a tool specifically for it like this mango slicer or this pineapple corer.
Embrace Your Microwave
You may think of your microwave as a way to reheat leftovers or make quick food from your freezer, but it’s so much more! Make a quick breakfast staple like an egg sandwich or expedite the time it takes to make a baked potato at lunch or dinner. The best part? Microwave-safe dishes are typically dishwasher safe, so you can cut down on the cleanup time!
Save New Recipes for the Weekend
Even the most experienced cook can make mistakes when going through the steps of a new recipe. Rather than trying to tackle the unfamiliar after a long day at work, stick to what you know and save your new challenges for when you have more time. This way, you have the chance to take your time and troubleshoot along the way as you get familiar with the new dish.
Optimise Your Time When You Have It
When you do have time available, use it to cook or prepare food in advance for occasions when you don’t! Gather all the ingredients you need for freezer-friendly recipes that only take one pan or a slow cooker and make several batches. This takes out all the prep work and gets you to cook faster! Make sure you store it in freezer-friendly plastic bags or storage containers to help prevent against freezer burn.
A Pinch of Fresh Herbs Goes a Long Way
When you don’t have time to work from a recipe, it’s easy to default to a basic protein, carb and vegetable combination that’s dull. Even the most basic of meals can be brought to life by the use of fresh herbs. Thyme with chicken, rosemary with beef, cilantro with pork — the combinations are endless! However, keeping fresh herbs on hand can be impractical and pricey. Herbs tend to be packaged in bundles that are simply too large to get through, leaving you with a lot of waste. Instead of letting those unused herb go to waste, place it in ice cube trays with a little water and freeze them. That way you always have them on hand when you need a quick meal. Some grocers carry herbs in tubes that also pack the potency of fresh herbs and keeps you from having to use lifeless dry alternatives.