Do you go looney tunes trying to get dinner together at the end of the day? I, for one, can get a little cranky about it even though cooking is a passion of mine. Truly, it can be a challenge to pull it all together night after night. I’ve found that with a little planning and forethought, it IS possible to make the process go a little smoother. Here are my 6 Tips for Easy Dinner Prep that will save you time and stress.
PS If you burn dinner, call for pizza delivery.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
I’m a big fan of this one. If you’re cooking and already dirtying up the kitchen, cook a double portion. You can always eat it for dinner the next night or freeze it for another meal next week. You can also use leftovers from different meals for a Family Buffet night. Make it fun, like you’re going to a restaurant and everyone can go through the line. Your kids can help you set it up in your kitchen or dining room.
Pre-cook Meat and Poultry and Freeze it.
Cook up ground turkey, chicken, or any kind of meat ahead of time and store in freezer ziploc bags. I measure them into 1 cup portions which makes it easier for cooking a future meal. These come in handy when making soups, stews, casseroles, spaghetti, tacos, & fajitas You can also do this with leftover meat from dinner–instead of giving it to the dog, throw in ziplocs. It’s a great habit to get in because it prevents waste and saves money.
Use your Crockpot
Is yours in the back of your cupboard gathering dust? Time to break out that baby! There are SO many great recipes for the crockpot. Go online and find one that sounds good. Get it ready the night before or in the morning before you go to work, turn it on. It’s fun to come home at night and walk through that door and smell that dinner cooking~ is it me, or am I just too excited about this? The crockpot still feels like magic to me!
Ice Cube Trays are not just for Ice
You can save a lot of money & future cooking time by freezing leftover minced garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice, chicken or veggie stock in a good old fashioned ice cube tray. After the cubes are frozen you can stick them in a labeled zip loc freezer bag for future use. I can’t tell you how much chicken stock I used to waste before using this method. These cubes are perfect for future dinner prep and super handy.
Foil is your Friend
You can save tons of clean up time by simply lining your roasting pans with foil. Whether I’m making pork tenderloin or roasted vegetables, I put a layer of foil over the pan before I put my food in. After cooking, simply lift the foil off with and throw in the trash. You may still have a little washing to do, but at least you won’t have to let your pans soak overnight in the kitchen sink. Stress-free!
Clean as you Cook
Once you’ve dirtied a dish, rinse it out and stick it in the dishwasher. Done with the chopping? Wash up the knives and put them away. If you spill on the counter, wipe it up. Designate a large bowl for kitchen garbage–wrappers, trimmings, or scraps of food. As you cook, throw everything in there so it’s not in your way while you’re cooking. This will keep your mind clearer as you cook and will make for an easier after dinner clean up…and don’t forget to have your kids help you