DIYers are a unique crowd. Usually they are quite confident, willing to experiment, and BUSY. Finding time to prepare healthy meals in the midst of that kind of chaos is, well, challenging. If not near impossible. Here are our 5 best time saving tips for dinnertime:
5 Time Saving Tips for Dinnertime for the DIY’er –Doable
Yeah, it’s true. We can’t harp on this one enough. Imagine dinner is the same thing as a project. It’s really frustrating and way more time consuming to finish the job if you are lacking the materials. We are big fans of menu planning. Plan a week at a time, make your grocery list, and get everything you need. If you don’t know where to start, there are dozens of sites that do the menu planning for you, (including ours), however only you know what kinds of things your family will eat.
2. Keep a well stocked fridge and pantry.
Keep staple items that will make preparing on the fly easy. There are certain ingredients that get used over and over at my house. I make sure I always have these things. I also always have tons of vegetables in the fridge. There are dozens of recipes I can whip up quickly if I have the ingredients on hand.
3. Pre-cook and freeze your meat.
If this isn’t part of your weekly routine, then you really need to find 45 minutes a week to do this. I try to buy a months worth of meat, and then pre-cook about 80% of it. I bag it up into 3-4 cup portions and freeze it. I can add pre-cooked chicken to soups, salads, stir fry, and many other dishes, and have dinner made in 20 minutes. I leave some raw for when I do a crock pot meal or a dish where pre-cooked doesn’t work.
4. Wash all your produce at once, and chop what can be chopped.
Anytime I do a big grocery run, I fill my clean sink with water, add about 1 c. of vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon of baking soda. I dump all my produce in there, agitate for about 10 seconds, then rinse, and dry. This seemingly simple formula not only saves me time when cooking dinner or packing lunches, it gets all the sprays, waxes, and icky stuff off of your produce. It works better and is safer than soap. The only thing to be cautious of is washing things like berries, herbs, or lettuce. If you aren’t using within about 24-36 hours, it’s best to wait and do that when you use them. Try this and be amazed and disgusted with how dirty the water looks after cleaning your food! Pre chop if you have time, and save in the fridge in bags or airtight containers. It’s just one less step at the busiest time of day.
Now I don’t want to nag, seeing as how we just met and all, but it really is true. Practice does make perfect. Well maybe not perfect, but definitely quicker. Just like anything, cooking is a skill that improves with practice. If you haven’t done it a lot, then it will take longer and be more frustrating. Eventually you will be able to just whip things up in no time. Don’t give up.