We have three main strategies.
- We often start meals the morning or night before so they are half-made when we hit our nighttime rush. This takes advanced planning, and we almost never arrive home in the evening without knowing what’s for dinner.
- Inspired by the folks over at Addition Problems, we have prepared a “master list” of two weeks worth of meals. This saves us time shopping, but it also saves time in preparation. When you make a meal over and over, you get better at it. As we cook our two-week repertoire repeatedly, we’ve alter meals so that they are easier to prepare, and we get faster at preparation. We are also able to reduce food waste because we know how much of each dish we need.
- We use time saving devices. Our pressure cooker allows us to make brown rice in 25 minutes and vegetable broth from scraps in a half-hour. We use a crock pot to cook beans from scratch painlessly (soak-em the night before, then put them on low during the day). Our baked potato night always features microwaved potatoes.
We are also trying to get in the habit of cooking a big meal on Sunday that gets used for leftovers or stuck in the freezer, but we often don’t end up cooking quite enough. Sunday is our time to test out new recipes or make some old favorites. This Sunday we made a lentil loaf from Laurel’s kitchen, and then we discussed ways that the preparation could be streamlined. It may go into our regular rotation at some point.
In case you are interested in our two-week meal plan, here it is. Another note about our particular meal plan: Dorea is home on Tuesdays and I’m home on Thursdays. On Tuesday’s, Dorea cooks a somewhat more intensive meal, and on Thursdays I prepare food for Shabbat (for Friday night and Saturday).
What do you do to save time in the kitchen? Any other two-week food planners out there?