The modern world is amazing and full of things that actually do make cooking on a busy schedule more convenient. I used to think that using many of these time saving techniques was “cheating”. But I’ve come to realize that I prefer to cook a great tasting meal and have time to enjoy it than to claim to cook everything from scratch. So here are just a few of my time saving tips. Please feel free to comment or respond with your own tips!
Plan ahead~ defrosting and marinating the day before doesn’t just save prep time when you start to cook, it will also make your meat juicer and more tender. Then it’s just a matter of throwing it in the oven/skillet/crock pot.
Oven bags~ a recent favorite of mine. Cooks evenly, keeps meat juicy and moist, locks in flavor, and cuts WAY down on clean up time. For extra time saving, throw veggies straight into the bag with your protein and you kill two birds with one stone.
Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker~ a crock pot can be the busy cook’s best friend. Most recipes can be converted for use in a crock pot and it requires little to no attention for several hours. You can toss in meat and veggies, cook on low for the eight hours that you are at work, come home and a hot meal is waiting! For extra time saving, use slow cooker liners and premixed seasoning packs.
Premixed Seasoning Packs~ from chili seasoning, gravy mix, or marinade mix. Little packets of premixed seasoning can save you time and money! There are some seasonings that are universal and you should have in your kitchen at all times. For the ones that you may not use too often, premixed packets are cheap and easy to use. Even something as easy as making gravy can be tedious when preparing a large or detail oriented meal. Jars of gravy or premixed packets can cut down on time. *use broth or stock instead of water and season well with premixed packets to add flavor and make it your own. Also, you can find seasoning packets that come with an oven roasting bag all in one.*
Focus on one thing~ If one thing in your menu requires a lot of work or attention plan for the accompanying food to be quick and simple. A five star restaurant has several cooks to get all of those amazing dishes out…. it’s much more difficult for you to make four courses from scratch. If your main dish is slightly complicated, pair it with something simple like mac and cheese or minute rice. It does not matter how long it took to make everything if it all tastes delicious.
Quick and Easy~ Cooking wonderful, complicated meals every night can burn you out. Decide on a few quick and easy meals that you can implement a couple of nights a week. Whether that is a default take out place or a various collection of frozen or microwave meals that everyone enjoys, make sure you give yourself a break. I highly recommend frozen broccoli stuffed chicken breast or Birds Eye Voila frozen pasta meals.
Make it your own~ No matter if its a recipe you stumbled upon or a quick and simple meal like minute rice find a way to make it your own. Not every recipe has to be followed to a tee. Play around with spices and seasoning. Throw in some fresh garlic or a hand full of sliced almonds. You’ll be amazed at how completely a hand full of bacon bits and a little garlic and transform Kraft mac and cheese. When it comes to recipes, never go with the first one you find. Google it! Take your top five favorite. Mix and match ingredients. Discover your own style. The main thing to take away from recipes is an appropriate cooking time and temp…. everything else is art.