When 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 will share tips to help you improve your meal-planning process.
- Tips to Speed up Weeknight Cooking
- Now, on Sunday, it is time to decide and schedule 3-4 weeknight meals.
- Have an area to write down the recipe names to remind you of the 'specials' for the week.
- Now is the time to review the recipes and make the grocery list.
- Having a place for the different weeknight dinner meals will keep items from accidently being used by others.
- Remember, a well-organized pantry will save you time during meal prep and planning.
- Saving Time While Prepping Dinner Tips
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?
You can check out these posts below if you are looking for some meal-planning apps.
The 11 Best Meal Planning Apps to Help You Lose Weight
The 8 Best Meal-Planning Apps of 2020
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 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.
***AD*** from Released Repurpose Reorganize: My List Simplified journal is a wonderful organizing tool for planning a move or a renovation. Use it to corral all the to-dos.
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. Using a calendar, you can also write the names 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 look.
Now is the time to review the recipes and make the grocery list.
Going shopping AFTER you find 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 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.
I hate cooking and really don't cook, but I recognize the importance of planning for anyone who needs to accomplish something more complex than a PB&J for one! This is comprehensive advice and guidance for anyone needing to make sure multiple people get fed and don't end up on a first-name-basis with the pizza guy.
We used to subscribe to your meal planning method when the kids were home. I would plan meals and write the shopping list using recipes I had saved (I like variety). My husband would shop. He was great at it. No impulse buying. Since our kids have grown we have gone more casual. Simplifying dinner with usually just a protein and vegetable and easy cooking method of roasting or stove top cooking.
This is so comprehensive. There’s so much information here, I don’t think you left anything out.
My planning revolves around having a lot of basics in the fridge and the pantry to use in many recipes. Tomatoes in a salad or fresh tomato sauce. Cauliflower for soup or to roast. I also like to use up what we have so I try to be creative when cooking.
I will admit that meal planning has never been my strength. However, I have figured out what works for us. We keep meals simple. Most lunches and dinners have protein and vegetables. Sometimes we have grains too. I stock up on LOTS of vegetables. Some I can cook in advance like roasted cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes and eat cold or reheat if desired. I also wash and cut-up raw vegetables in advance so that I can make quick and easy to assemble salads. And these days with the weather being so nice, my husband cooks on the grill. Mostly, I don't use recipes. I just gather the meals from the ingredients we have on hand. So the two keys are having lots of vegetables and proteins to choose from and preparing the veggies in advance. These make meal prep time very easy and quick.
When the kids were in college and away from home, we did the same thing. Now, with two other adults in the house, we need extra food. I love grilling too! It also keeps the kitchen clean and there is less clean up after dinner.
Stacey Agin Murray
What a coincidence--we're both blogging about meal planning this week! I consider it to be one of the most important home organizing systems we can have in place at this time.
Like you advise, I keep the pots and pans I use most often underneath my cooktop. I find it to be a great time saver to store them there and take out what I need in advance of my cooking. One thing I have never done is have my knives sharpened! I'm going to have to put that on my to-do list for when business opens up again.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. After sharpening my knives, I found that my wrists stopped hurting. I didn't even think that could have been the issue. Funny how things we do every day, affect us and we don't even realize it.
I definitely am in need of a good knife sharpening. I have a household sharpener, but it only does a mediocre job. I took it once to a local butcher and he took it in the back and sharpened it for me, which was awesome. Something tells me, however, that this isn't a great time to be walking into a store with a mask on and knife in my hand!
Lol, yes, I don't think that is a good idea. My husband bought a professional knife sharpener last Thanksgiving. You may want to buy one yourself to sharpen the knives at home. It also works great for scissors.
We have a wall calendar in our kitchen that's just for meal planning. Before we go shopping we decide what we're going to have each night (choosing quick and easy meals for during the week and more ambitious ones on the weekend) then write everything we need on our shopping list. We've been doing this for longer than I can remember, and I can't imagine living any other way.
With COVID-19, we're trying to minimize our outings so shopping is every two weeks. We only plan the meals for the first week but buy enough to get through both weeks. It's been challenging, but we haven't starved yet!
I'm with you! I do the bulk of my shopping at the beginning of the month. And, do small visits every other week for fresh things. Hopefully, my garden will start growing soon and that will help reduce the visits to get produce. Stay safe.