When we are busy, our meals can be a little less healthy and not as good for us. So, this month's challenge is to speed up weeknight cooking processes to stop eating processed foods. Today, we are going to share with you some tips to help you improve your meal planning process.
Tips to Speed up Weeknight Cooking
Let's start by getting your meal planning process in order. First, if you have paper recipes, pull them out and place them on the counter. If you use an app like Yummly, you can pick the recipes and assign cooking reminder times, and the app will let you know to start cooking. Cool, right?
If you are looking for some meal planning apps, you can check out these posts below.
If you choose to have cookbooks, you can also use sticky notes in cookbooks to mark the recipe pages that you want to make for each night. You can easily label each sticky note with the days of the week to know which day you want to cook the meal.
Now, on Sunday, it is time to decide and schedule 3-4 weeknight meals. Take into account if they are larger meals. If they are, you can use them for leftovers the next day, or you can transform them into another meal.
It's good to have one day on your schedule for leftovers or another day for dining out if you can afford it. This will give you a break from all the time spent cooking.
If you have older teens, you can even get them involved in meal planning. They may also be able to do some of the cooking on certain days to give you a break. That would be fantastic, wouldn't it?
Have an area to write down the recipe names to remind you of the 'specials' for the week. We use the inside of our pantry door. Check out how we made it here. If you use a calendar, you can also write the names down for each day. Be sure to let everyone know where the menu is for the week, so if they want to know what they are going to have, they can just look.
Now is the time to review the recipes and make the grocery list. Going shopping AFTER you found the recipes, you will know exactly what you need to buy. No extra spending. Yay! Below are some preprinted grocery lists from Amazon (affiliate) if you don't want to write up your grocery list.
Having a place for the different weeknight dinner meals will keep items from accidently being used by others. If you have room, you can have the bins lined up in your pantry, labeled by the day of the week. If you don't have room, you can always have one container called "Dinner" on it and then move the other ingredients from the pantry to a safe area where no one will look so they don't eat it accidentally. I found some of the bins I am talking about on Amazon (affiliate). These bins are also perfect in the fridge if your ingredients are perishable.
Remember, a well-organized pantry will save you time during meal prep and planning. Go through your pantry and group the ingredients in your pantry by the following categories.
- Other canned foods
Labeling these areas will also help others keep the shared pantry organized. Feel free to visit our 16 pantry organizing posts here for more tips.
Saving Time While Prepping Dinner Tips
Now, let's talk about how to save time while preparing a meal that day. Start by chopping and prepping in the morning when you are in the kitchen. If you don't feel you have the time, you can gather the items together to minimize your time later finding the things.
Chopping tools and products that store food are helpful in the kitchen with quick prep. Below are some I found on Amazon.com (affiliate).
Keep knives sharp at all times.
And don't forget the knives. They need sharpening to make it easy to cook ingredients for you and your family. It's safer for you if you accidentally get cut. Don't believe me? Check out the University of Rochester Medical Center website. It will also minimize fatigue with your wrists and hands.
Pots and Pans should be handy.
Keep your most-used pots and pans in the front of your cabinet. If you can, keep them near the range so you don't need to travel around your kitchen to get them. Since you know what meal you are making the night before, you can pull out the pans you need for the dish and place them on the range. One less thing to do later is always helpful.
I hope these tips help motivate you to speed up weeknight cooking. By improving the evening meal prep system, you will have additional time in your evening to spend with your family and relax. It will also significantly reduce the amount of processed food you eat during the week. Remember, a little planning goes a long way.
Please share your thoughts below, do you have any tips to help our readers speed up their meal prep time?
If you are looking for new quick healthy recipes, visit our Yummy Recipes section on the blog. We have new yummy recipes every Tuesday.