Are you demotivated to cook at home and prepare healthier meals because of the time and effort (and mess!) it takes? We feel you. Here are some of the best time-saving tips to gain you back hours in your day.
First things first, shop right
- Making a list is an essential part of saving time in the kitchen and the shops. Don’t leave the house without a shopping list! Roughly planning your meals for the week ahead is such a time-saver, even though it feels like a burden at the time. Try plan just three meals a week, leaving the other days open for pulling something easy out the freezer, leftovers or eating out. If you usually visit the same supermarket, group your products by area in the shop – this will save you tiring back and forth trips between aisles.
- Have you considered shopping online? A few minutes spent placing an order online means goodies delivered to your door – it’s worth checking if the likes of Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay deliver in your area. This way, you only get what you need and cut your browsing and collecting time down to zero.
- Get more done at the store – at the butchers counter, you can divide a family pack of chicken breasts into smaller packages, chop ribs or trim fat from roasts in moments.
Be smart with appliances during prep
- A few key items can make cooking a significantly smoother process. A stick blender in the soup pot instead of a messy transfer to a big blender saves time and clean up, while mandolines, and multislicers really can shave hours off of boring chopping and slicing. Double-sided grillers like the famous George Foreman literally halve your cooking time. In many cases, scissors work better than knives too – for cutting bacon and bunches of herbs.
- When measuring viscous liquids, like syrup or honey, coat the measuring spoon with cooking spray – the liquid will slip right out! Same goes for hands when handling meat balls or dough.
- Another trick from the cooking greats is to keep a waste bowl near you on the table. Gathering end bits and scraps there and only chucking it away once you’re done saves endless trips to the bin during cooking time.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Prepping as much as you can ahead of time and in bulk just makes mealtime a breeze. Done right, this can be a foolproof way to gain hours back every week! It just takes a little bit of foresight and not much else. If breakfast is a cold dish or has dry elements, like smoothies or oat mixes, prep it in individual portions so you can grab ‘n go in the mornings. Overnight oats with oats, protein powder, water and milk serves as an instant breakfast the following morning, while smoothie ingredients like bananas, berries and powders can be divided into single portion plastic bags and frozen for easy use. When making any one-pot dishes like bolognaise, chicken and broccoli bakes or soups, grab that jumbo pot and double – or even triple – the recipe. These types of meals freeze well and make great ‘freezer food’ to have on hand when there is no time or urge to cook.
Cut corners where you can
- Toasting nuts can be done easily in the convection oven with no preheating or burning! Set the timer for two minutes on HIGH and watch those babies brown.
- Clean and (obviously) unflavoured floss can cut some foods cleaner than a knife. Keep some on hand for cakes, soft cheeses and the like and avoid the gooey mess of a knife.
- Line baking trays with foil for zero mess and clean up.
- Forget the old brown bag trick – a glass bowl and a plate on top will pop popcorn more hassle-free (and oil-free) than any other option.
- Steam or throw veggies in the convection oven before roasting – you can cut the roasting time by as much as a third!