I love to cook, but after a long day of working, creating and being a mom, I’ve had enough and I don’t want to spend any more time on kitchen chores than I have to. Do you? Does anyone?
Wouldn’t you rather spend your evening relaxing with the family, hanging with some girlfriends or reading a good book than slaving away on kitchen chores? I know I would. So let me help you with a few of my favorite kitchen time savers.
Here are four easy ways to save time in the kitchen and get yourself more free time for all the fun things in life.
By the way, this post includes some affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I get a small commission, it doesn’t cost you anything more, and you get to be more organized. We call that a win-win.
Use a Dish Drainer.
The quickest and most energy-efficient way to clean your dishes is to load the dishwasher. But at my house, not everything fits or is dishwasher safe. That means there is always something that needs hand washing. When I wash dishes, I don’t towel dry them. I delegate the drying to mother nature. I use a nice, big dish drainer—and when there are more than will fit I use one of these handy dish drying mats. A dish drainer lets your hand-washed dishes air dry, saving you time & keeping them sanitary.
Plan your Meals a Week (or more) at a Time by Making a Menu.
Isn’t trying to figure out what to make for dinner after a long day of work more than your tired brain cells can stand? Rather than opt for easier (and less-healthy) take out or breakfast-for-dinner, I make menus. We don’t always follow the menu exactly, but having a menu means I have the ingredients for what’s on the menu, so I know I can cook any of those meals without having to scrounge for ideas. For more on my menu process, read my post on menu planning.
Make Your Cooking Count for More than One Meal.
It doesn’t take any more time or effort to cook six chicken breasts than it does to cook two. Five pounds of hamburger cook in about the same time as one. Prep ingredients for future meals and refrigerate or freeze them while you’re already cooking. Using a vacuum sealer makes it easy to prep and store without having to worry about food going bad.
If you’re a brown bagger, make tomorrow’s lunch while you make tonight’s dinner. When I make a casserole for dinner, I’ll often double the recipe and throw the second in the freezer for a night when I don’t have the time or the inclination to cook. I also make my homemade spaghetti sauce in a big kettle and usually end up freezing enough for nearly a dozen meals. At most, it might take me an extra five minutes—but it could save an hour or more when I most need it.
Keep Like Items Together and Give Them a Home Near Where You Use Them Most.
In my kitchen, I have a drawer on either side of my stove. One drawer holds all my hot pads and pot holders and the other drawer holds pancake turners, wooden spoons and other utensils I use at the stove. Having them right there at my fingertips when I’m working at the stove means I don’t have to step away from a boiling pot to hunt down the right utensil.
In addition, I store like items together, from keeping all the sharp utensils in a designated drawer to dedicated bins for dish towels and dish cloths. When I had a house full of brown-bagging children, I designated a shelf in the pantry for school-lunch supplies: peanut butter, Nutella, snack foods and lunchbox treats all lived on the lunch shelf. I still group food items together in my pantry. Snack foods have their own basket, nuts on one shelf, baking supplies on another and so on. Figure out the foods—and other kitchen items—that go together and store them together. You choose the criteria that works for you, similar foods, similar uses, types of recipes you use things for—whatever makes your organizing system work for you.
These are just a few of the many easy ways to save time in the kitchen. Adopting even one or two will help you spend less time working and more time doing what you love.
Do you have a favorite kitchen time saver? Share it in the comment section below. Do you have an organizing challenge? Share that too and I’ll address it in a future blog post.