Kitchen duties shouldn’t mean slaving over a hot stove, scrubbing dishes, and searching for utensils for half of the day. Being well prepared isn’t just for the insanely organized, either. A little forward planning and some smart purchases can save you a lot of time in the kitchen. These tried and tested ideas will ensure your kitchen is working harder and smarter so you don’t have to.
1. Plan, plan, and plan.
While planning your meals for the week may seem ambitious, a little bit of forward planning is bound to save you the most time in the kitchen. Think about it: You’re tired after a long day at work, you’re hungry, you’ve strolled up and down the supermarket aisles trying to figure out what to buy to cook, before retreating home to hopefully find some leftovers worth salvaging, and winding up with ordering take-out instead. Does this sound familiar, or is it just me who does this?
You don’t have to write up an overly detailed meal plan, but a rough guide of what you’ll be cooking during the week so you can plan ahead is guaranteed to save you time and money. Plus, it will also encourage smarter meal choices, as well as smarter purchasing at the supermarket.
2. Double (or triple) it!
It’s a wise cooking practice to double or triple certain recipes, especially with meals like stocks, soups, pasta sauces, stews, and curries, which are easy to freeze for later use and can thaw easily.
3. Frozen is fine.
Fresh is best, but frozen fruits and vegetables can work just as well (depending on what you’re cooking, of course) and will save you a great deal of prep time in the kitchen, as well as minimizing waste. Fruits and vegetables that work well frozen include berries, pineapple, mango, peas, corn, broccoli, and green beans.
4. Make use of one-pot wonders.
Ah, the joys of one-pot cooking! Who doesn’t love the idea of being able to throw everything into one pot without the need to do much else? Like meal-prep and planning, using frozen ingredients and cooking in bulk, one-pot cooking encourages smarter food choices and less time spent in the kitchen.
And while slow-cookers are a popular choice, pressure cookers are also having their moment in the spotlight, and most slow-cooker and crock pot recipes are able to be adjusted slightly for their more modern counterparts. This is the perfect option for those who work full-time or spend long periods of time commuting before getting home in the evening; simply prepare your one-pot meal the night before or in the morning, adjust your cooking settings and temperature, and you’re done!
5. Make smarter purchases.
It can be tempting to fill your cooking zone with every new, flashy appliance and utensil under the sun (this is especially dangerous for fans of the Home Shopping Network), but for beginners, it can be hard to know just what kitchen necessities you need, and which ones will save you the most time when preparing meals.
The best rationale? Quality over quantity. If you’re someone who only cooks sparingly, avoid cluttering your kitchen benches and cupboards with clunky devices like food processors, Nutri-Bullets, and Thermomixes — you’ll end up spending more time sorting through your drawers and trying to find where to put everything. Opt for something like a mandolin to slice fruits and vegetables easily, and a stick blender for soups, purees, and smoothies.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.