Time Saving Tips in the Kitchen
About the Author: Wicked Wellbeing
I'm a mother of 3 who's passionate about empowering and inspiring you that healthy food can taste amazing, and it's not hard to create.
Time Saving Tips in the Kitchen
Through a recent survey we sent out, asking what your biggest frustration or challenge is to providing healthy meals for your family, the most common obstacle was lack of time – can you relate?
So we’ve put together this blog to give you some ideas. A combination of a few different approaches we feel is the secret – prep ahead, use leftovers creatively and K.I.S.S.
Get your domestic goddess on and spend a few hours prepping and cooking for the week ahead – I know, I know, it’s a drag but it really does streamline your week. Sunday works well for a lot of people but maybe an evening during the week might work better (while watching TV if that’s your thing) – it’s really worth the extra effort.
The strategy is to cook enough of the main protein/meat part of your meal – something like slow cooked beef, pulled pork, Mexican beans, mince or roast chicken – then serve it several different ways throughout the week. Here are some ideas to make this work.
Most Sunday evenings we have a roast chicken, served with baked and steamed veggies. We’ll then we use the leftover chicken for lunchboxes during the week and we do extra baked veggies to use for a vegetarian bean meal the next night.
There are 101 things you can do with mince so make it on mass, add in lots of veg, portion it out for several meals, and flavour it up with different beans, legumes, herbs and spices to go on a culinary journey – Mexican with Nachos / Italian with Pasta / Moroccan with Millet / Classic Kiwi with Mash and Peas – or simply served on toast – seriously good comfort food!
Mince with a Twist – Meatloaf and Meatballs many ways
Have you tried a meatloaf lately? We make ours with oats instead of breadcrumbs, and add grated veggies and brown lentils as well (all ingredients are combined in one bowl – easy).
We also make some of the mixture into meatballs and cook them at the same time as the loaf to add into another meal (or you can freeze the uncooked mince mixture to use when needed).
Time-saver tip: Bake meatballs in the oven – no need to stand at the stove turning them. Freeze some cooked for lunch boxes too…
While your meatloaf or meatballs are cooking, whip up a big coleslaw, or salad of choice, and a simple dressing to go and serve it with several different meals and lunches throughout the week. Ideas include:
Burgers, Wraps or Tacos – Just add sliced meatloaf + slaw (if you prefer not to eat bread, ditch it and add some sesame seeds, chopped nuts or chickpeas to your slaw to bulk it up).
Mama Mia Meatballs – While you cook some pasta or rice and veg (see tip below); make a pasta sauce combination of onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, a dash of pure maple syrup and some fresh or mixed dried herbs, then just add the meatballs – serve with grated cheese over the top if you wish.
Meatballs with Satay Sauce on Rice – Whipping up a quick satay sauce made out of garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, lemon juice and water offers an excellent alternative meal for meatballs, served on brown rice or quinoa, with steamed veg on the side. See our Healthy Lunchbox Love, Delicious Dinners section for a simple Satay Sauce recipe.
Time-saver tip: Steam some veg over the pasta/rice pot, or add some fresh or frozen veg straight into the pasta or rice pot before cooking has finished, or use baby spinach.
Easy coleslaw – Finely sliced cabbage, spring/red onion, celery, grated carrot and some herbs if you like. Add chopped pineapple, grated apple or cheese to change it up on different nights.
Simple dressing options – Simply combine natural yoghurt with a teaspoon of each; honey and Dijon mustard, and season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, a drizzle of olive oil and lemon or lime juice, or a splash of your favourite vinegar. In our new cookbook, ‘Healthy Lunchbox Love’ we share a foolproof mayo made with tofu – so quick and easy – and honestly delicious!
Use some basic one-pot wonders and quick shortcut meals several nights each week, these could include:
Keep in mind that simply adding something like a sprinkle of chilli flakes, sliced sundried tomatoes, chopped olives, crumbled feta, lemon or lime juice and zest, a few nuts or seeds, or fresh herbs can give a basic meal that extra ‘5% magic’!
While you’re in ‘prep ahead mode’, it can be handy to chop up some veggie sticks – carrot, capsicum, celery, broccoli, etc – for lunchboxes and snacks and keep them in a refrigerated airtight container (carrots are best kept in a small amount of water to prevent drying out).
If you’ve got a slow cooker meal on the go, you might like to throw in some Seedy Crackers, Potato/Kumara Chips and/or baking for the week ahead too – quick and easy recipes for these are in our new cookbook.
While all of the above might sound like A LOT to do when you’re trying to save time, just remember the idea is to set aside a few hours to do prep and cooking all at once so a bunch of meals are mostly taken care of for the week, and then sprinkle a few really simple, easy meals into the nights between.