5 Simple Ways to Cut Down on Kitchen Time

5 Simple Ways to Cut Down on Kitchen Time

Use these tips to get meals on the table more quickly and decrease clean-up time, too.


Being a mom automatically means you don’t have a ton of time on your hands, so tasks like serving breakfast, packing lunch boxes and putting dinner on the table need to be completed as efficiently as possible. Use these meal prep tricks to reduce kitchen time and you might just find a few spare minutes for an extra bedtime story (or a well-earned soak in the tub!)

1. Clean As You Go
Tidying up as you go not only saves you from a big pile of pots and dishes later on, it actually makes food prep and cooking go quicker. Think of it this way — if you don’t have a clear space to work or the equipment you need at the ready, you spend even more time getting the job done.

Tidy-up tips: When chopping veggies, work in one direction, saving scraps at one end of the cutting board to be easily tossed in the trash. Keep a damp towel handy to wipe your board and knife between tasks (though anything that touches raw meat or eggs must be thoroughly washed). When baking, wipe away flour and put back your ingredients while the treats are in the oven, rather than checking email. That, you can do later.

2. Don’t Use More Gear Than You Need
If you’re preparing food for a recipe that calls for chopped onions and garlic to be sautéed together, use one bowl for both. Apply the same rule to anything that requires an equal amount of cooking time, like steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Reuse bowls rather than take a fresh one (as long as they didn’t hold raw meat or eggs) and find a few one-pot meals your family likes to minimize the amount of gear required. (Chili, sloppy joes and stir-fry dishes fit the bill nicely.)

3. Invest in Quality Equipment
With so many expenses tugging at your wallet, it’s hard to justify spending money on kitchen gear, but the investment is well worth it in the long run. The right pots, pans and utensils make prep go more quickly and boost the chances that the dish will be successful.

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Here’s a short list of must-haves that help make meal preparation a breeze: a good chef’s knife, absorbent kitchen towels, a set of mixing bowls (preferably not metal, since those can react with certain foods), food processor and/or immersion blender, solid cutting board, and a medium-sized all-purpose stainless steel saucepan.

4. Put Things Back Where You Found Them
Searching for stuff in your cabinets or pantry during meal prep will not only cost you time, it may diminish your dinner if you can’t find a necessary ingredient or the proper pot in which to cook. Do a thorough organization of your kitchen cupboards when you’ve got time, and then be mindful of putting things back where they belong (after you wiped them down and made sure all lids are tightly in place.). One way to always find the spice you need in a flash is to alphabetize your spice rack. Got a young grade-schooler in the house? Let him at it — what a fun way to practice his ABCs!

5. Make Enough to Freeze
If you’re cooking up a pot of soup, tray of lasagna or other dish that freezes well, make enough for a second — or even third meal — for time-pressed nights when you’ve got no time to cook. Staples like chicken stock and pasta sauce are great to have in your freezer: Portion them into smaller servings before freezing so you can pull out only as much as you need.

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