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  • Chef Stacy

Stacy's Kitchen Lately | Time-Saving Kitchen Hacks

Updated: May 24, 2021

Between work, managing a household, and shuffling the kids around, who has the time to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner night after night? Certainly not this busy mama! With 2021 officially upon us, now is the perfect time to create efficient habits that will help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones. Use these tried and true tips and tricks and watch how quickly those cooking excuses become a thing of the past.

1. Use a Weekly Meal Plan to Plan Ahead:

Create a weekly meal plan. This may be a hard habit to start, but you will spend less time (and stress) thinking about what to make for dinner every night. I prefer creating my meal plan on paper by breaking the page into seven sections and listing out what meals and snacks for each day. One popular app that I have found useful is PrePear, which allows you to visually plan your weekly meals, create grocery lists, and shop online. Planning your meals ahead of time sets yourself up for success throughout the busy week.

2. Make a Grocery List:

Once you have planned your meals for the week, make a grocery list. Pick a time each week to make your list - I like to make my list on Sundays during lunchtime. Looking through my kitchen helps me avoid doubling up on ingredients that I already have, which helps prevent food waste. The one thing COVID has introduced to us is ordering our groceries online. Shopping for an entire week at one time saves the back and forth trips to the grocery store and impulse purchases. I set my grocery order to be ready for pick up first thing Monday morning!

Use Time-Saving Kitchen Tools

  • Food Processor: I love my food processor for prepping but I hate cleaning it! It slices and grates way faster than I can manually, so if I get my food processor out I will grate all cheese and chop all vegetables needed for the week.

  • Sharp Knife: Learn to use your knives, which knife to use for different purposes and keep your knife sharp. This simple step will help your prep go much faster.

  • Healthy Convenience Products: Canned beans or fresh and frozen chopped vegetables. Most grocery stores now have fresh and frozen chopped onions and peppers. So if chopping isn’t your thing give yourself a break and buy it already done.

Meal Prep Tips:

I love spending time in my kitchen every day, so prepping for an entire week is not something I choose to do. That said, there’s no denying that meal prepping can save you a ton of time in the kitchen. Below are tips for both daily and weekly meal prep:

Get ahead from the second your groceries make it through the door. Organize meal prep to-do’s by type of task:

  • Wash and chop all the veggies before putting them away

  • Grate all cheese needed (block cheese is so much better)

  • Make sauces, marinades and dressings for the week

  • Then move on to prepping meats

Cook Once, Use Twice

Yes, I know I said not to double up on ingredients when preparing the grocery list, but this is different! Think of it this way: On Monday, you have planned to make grilled chicken and later in the week you planned to make chicken enchiladas. Instead of cooking chicken twice in one week, cook the chicken needed for the enchiladas while you are cooking Monday nights chicken.

Making a sauce or soup?

Always double the recipe– or more. They freeze easily and are easy to scale up. Plus it really doesn’t take any additional time and leftover soup is perfect for lunch. It travels well and reheats easily in a microwave. I like to package the extras in freezer zip bags, they freeze flat and save room in the freezer.

Shift your mindset, plan, prep, and be ready to cook! If you follow these steps consistently and focus on maximizing every moment in the kitchen, you will be able to spend more time with your loved ones and make cooking a manageable, enjoyable part of your schedule.

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