We all want to spend more time at the table and less time in the kitchen. That’s why it’s important to develop habits that help you keep mealtime organized and make meal prep a breeze.
I compiled this list of all the tips I could think of to save time in the kitchen. I hope a few of them help make dinner time more efficient in your house, and I hope you’ll leave a comment with other tips you’d add to the list!
12 Habits That Save Time In The Kitchen
1. Have a meal plan.
This is a must! Avoid the mental fatigue and stress of coming home after a long day and having no idea what your family is going to eat. Find a meal planning method that works for you and plan ahead.
Further Reading – Organized Meal Planning: My Practical & Flexible Method
2. Make an organized grocery list.
No matter how you organize your grocery list, it’s important you have one! Make your grocery list based on your meal plan for the week and you’ll know you have all the ingredients needed for every meal. No last-minute trips to the store or scrambling for a backup plan when you’re missing a key ingredient.
3. Pre-cut and measure ahead of time.
The prep work can take too much time after a long day of work. Spend some time once per week to chop and dice all of the ingredients you need for meals that week. You’ll feel so organized when you can pull your prepped ingredients out of the fridge and add them straight into the dish without having to dig out the cutting board.
4. Freeze chopped veggies.
I like to buy several peppers and onions and cut or dice them all at once. I fill snack-sized freezer bags with the veggies, put all the small bags in a gallon freezer bag and store them in the freezer. These are veggies I cook with all the time, and it’s a huge time saver to not have to cut them for every meal. Also, don’t throw away those freezer bags! When I empty a snack-size bag of diced onions, I leave it inside the gallon bag. That way I can just refill it when I’m restocking my chopped onions later on.
5. Pre-cook meat.
I recently starting browning a few pounds of ground beef all at once, and I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this longer! It’s a huge time saver. We tend to eat a lot of ground beef, and browning it for every meal takes extra time and dirties an extra pan. Having it browned in advance makes it easy to toss in pasta or heat up for tacos. I keep some in our fridge, and freeze some as well. This would also be great to do with chicken breasts or any meats your family eats a lot of.
6. Fill your freezer.
If you are preparing a dish you know your family loves, go ahead and make two! I’ve started to do this with pasta and casseroles because I know they freeze and reheat well. Even if you don’t go crazy with freezer cooking in bulk, simply making an extra meal every week will keep your freezer stocked with something to make when you need to save time in the kitchen.
7. Make enough for leftovers.
This tip is along the lines of the last one. If you’re making a meal that can be easily reheated for lunch the next day, go ahead and make extra. Dish the leftovers into single-serve containers so they’re ready to pull out of the fridge for lunch.
8. Set out supplies ahead of time.
If you know you’ll be rushed to prepare dinner after work, take a few minutes in the morning to set out all of the pots, pans and utensils you’ll need. This will save you time and ensure you won’t be frantically digging in the cupboard for the strainer only to realize it’s buried in the stack of dishes that need to be washed (this happens to me all the time!).
9. Make use of your slow cooker.
This is one of my favorite ways to save time in the kitchen! I plan slow cooker meals for the days when I know we’ll be getting home late. These are the nights when it’s so tempting to swing through the drive-through, so knowing there’s warm food waiting at home helps prevent unplanned fast food trips. If you’re like me and always forget to turn the slow cooker on before you leave the house, set an alarm on your phone.
10. Pack lunches ahead of time.
Get in the habit of packing lunches for the next day before or after dinner. Or, better yet, pack your lunches for the entire week on Sunday night.
11. Minimize the number of pots and pans you use.
One-pot meals and one-pan casseroles cut down on the number of dishes you’ll get dirty. If you want to spend less time on dishes, try to reduce the number of dirty dishes you create while preparing dinner. Also think about serving food straight out of the pan or pot, rather than a serving dish.
12. Clean as you go.
Fill the sink with warm, soapy water and soak dishes while you’re making dinner. Also make use of your dishwasher and fill it with dirty dishes as you prepare meals. When you finish eating, your dishes will be half done already and you’ll avoid scrubbing pots that have food dried onto them.
I hope those tips give you some ideas to cut down on the stress of dinner time. What are your tips to save time in the kitchen?