- Do you ever arrive home and you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to cook?
- Do you ever fantasise about never stepping foot in your local supermarket again?
- Do you wish you could spend more time hanging out with your family in the evening and less time in the kitchen?
If this sounds like you, then this post is for you. With a little bit of forward planning and by adopting and practicing a few new habits, you can save yourself hours each week.
I’ve estimated 7 hours 55 minutes – slightly tongue in cheek, but certainly not an exaggeration if you implement each of these 5 strategies for cutting your time in the kitchen:
1. Make a maximum of 4 evening meals per week
Learn the art of bucket cookery and make double (or even triple) quantity of meals 3 times per week. Make the fourth meal so simple that it takes less effort than calling for a take-away (see resolution number 5). It’s always great to make double quantity on a Sunday in particular – Nobody wants to be cooking on a Monday night!
Estimated time you will save: 1.5 hours per week
Bonus tip: Buy large freezer bags and a freezer marker pen. Freeze leftovers and label with date and contents.
2. Resolve to buy a slow cooker
A slow cooker, particularly in the autumn and winter months, is your BFF for spending less time in the kitchen. You can literally chop it up, chuck it in and forget it. If you don’t own a slow cooker, I urge you to get one; they are inexpensive and as well as the pleasure of coming home from work knowing that you’ve got something hot and nutritious ready to serve up, slow cooking will give you a sense of self-satisfied smugness. People will think you’re amazingly organised and domestically gifted. Even if you’re not!
Estimated time you will save: 2 hours per week
Bonus tip: Don’t get all prissy about browning meat – it’s not necessary, even Jamie Oliver says so!
3. Resolve to plan evening meals on a 3 weekly rolling basis
Use a simple spreadsheet and build up a set of meals so that your menu changes every 3 weeks – enough not to feel as if you are eating the same thing each week but not too many meals to think of. If you resolve to cook a maximum of 4 meals per week, you only need to come up with a maximum of 12 recipes over 3 weeks.
Estimated time you will save: 2 hours per week (and a big weight off your mind)
Bonus tip: Check out the website www.resourcefulcook.com for meal plans. It is absolutely superb.
4. Resolve to shop online
After a time and motion study at Sainsbury’s last week, I have decided that my sanity is too precious and petrol too expensive to be hauling my busy butt to a supermarket every week.
Unless you LOVE your supermarket AND you find food shopping a pleasure AND you can shop without kids, then resolve to get into the online shopping habit.
If you haven’t shopped online for a while, you’ll find there’s been quite a bit of progress by supermarkets to make the online shop easier. I’ve recently come across the Tesco supermarket mobile app which allows you to scan labels of stuff in your kitchen. Nifty stuff!
Estimated time you will save: Once you get yourself organised with a regular list, you are likely to save at least 2 hours per week.
Bonus tip for UK readers: Have you come across www.mysupermarket.co.uk ? It’s a supermarket comparison site and will help you to keep your food costs down.
5. Resolve to make one meal per week a 5 minute prep meal
Yes, I’m talking about you lowering your standards, releasing your inner slummy mummy and eating beans on toast, scrambled eggs or pasta with a grating of cheese on it. How many 5 minute meals can you come up with? Make it fun and set a timer. Prepare and then run away from that kitchen and go and play with your kids, read a book or sit on the sofa staring vacantly into space. Just get it done and GO!
Estimated time you will save: Let’s say 25 minutes per week!
What are your tips for minimising the time you spend in the kitchen? What works for you? Do you have any 5 minute recipes or favourite slow cooker meals? Come and share in the comments below and pick up some tips from other working mums whilst you’re there!