We could all use a little more time in the day. Whether it's to finish up chores or just to spend a little longer relaxing, few would begrudge an extra half an hour here or there. While many of us love to cook, unfortunately it can be a real time drain, especially if you're cooking for a large group. Now that the summer has unofficially begun and cottages were ceremoniously opened this Victoria Day Weekend, there's no better time to squeeze a few extra leisure minute out of the day. Follow these time-saving tips and you'll be able to spend less time in the kitchen this summer and more time enjoying the warm weather.
Set yourself up for success by picking a theme for your week and meal planning. This will help to save time and keep you organized and on track. Think of a grain, a fresh herb and a vegetable that will go well with a protein, and go from there.
Don’t spend more time in the grocery store than you have to. Make a list of exactly what you need. Group items by area where they’re found at the grocery store. Organize your groceries on the conveyor belt so they’re easy to put away when you get home.
Invest some time
A little up front time goes a long way to filling your fridge with healthy, convenient food. You’re already putting your groceries away, so may as well do a bit of prep. Wash and chop veggies so you can quickly grab them for easy snacking or serving to guests. Wash lettuce and store rolled in a tea towel for easy salads. Cook a few portions of a grain or legume to easily toss into salads throughout the week. Make a big batch of a salad dressing and keep it in the fridge for easy salad building. Par-boil potatoes, carrots and hearty greens (like kale or broccoli) so they can be quickly grilled on the barbeque.
Do your mise
Mise en place is a French culinary term that means “everything in its place.” By reading a recipe first, and chopping and setting aside all your ingredients, your cooking experience will be all the more efficient and quick.
As long as they’re organic, leave the peels on your cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes. You’ll shave time off your prepping and you’ll boost nutrition.
Let time be the cook
Let chia seeds and oats soak in almond milk overnight for an easy, grab and go breakfast – just add fruit! Massage washed kale with some olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and let it hang out in the fridge for an effortless green to add to grain bowls or salads anytime.
Buy food that can do double-duty. Chicken can be enjoyed in salads, wraps, or chopped up to make a chicken salad. Grains and legumes can be used in stir-fries and salads, reheated, or turned into a grain salad.
Invest in some new gear
A spiralizer can effortlessly turn a zucchini (or sweet potato or carrot) into “noodles” that can be enjoyed instead of pasta (or tossed into salads for dramatic effect).
Protein can often take the longest to cook, that’s why so many people turn to eggs for weeknight meals. Frozen shrimp is quick to thaw and cook, and makes the perfect accompaniment to zucchini noodles. Cooking a bunch of chicken breasts in advance, especially when done on the barbeque, can make for easy and delicious meals for the next day or two.
Quickest dinner ever
For a quick weeknight dinner, try this quick, single-serving frittata idea: in a small cast-iron pan, sauté some chopped shallot or onion with any veggies you like until softened. Add two whisked eggs and pop the pan under the broiler for a minute or two. Decorate with herbs, some preserved lemon or a few shavings of pecorino romano…delcious!
Fish is one of the easiest and quickest-cooking proteins around. Roast a whole side of salmon ahead of time and serve it with a yogurt-based dipping sauce for an effortless meal that your guests will love. Leftovers are delicious, too.
Fire up the grill
Barbeques are a great place to gather and enjoy both cooking and the beautiful weather. Cook extra meat and veggies for easy leftover meals.
Wash up as you go
Domestic queen Martha Stewart recommends that you fill a sink with soapy water and slip dishes in as you’re done with them to ease the burden of cleaning up.