There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. I can start out with all of the good intentions – usually, I get breakfast and maybe lunch done – but sooner or later the sky starts falling.
I’ve decided that it is partly due to me getting up before sunrise. By 3 o’clock, I just want to nap. Starting dinner is not something I even let slip into my brain. My daydreams include my husband calling to say, “Don’t worry about cooking anything, I’m bringing dinner home with me.”
That doesnâ’t happen very often. So I have learned a few tricks to make cooking dinner a breeze.
Simple Tips to Make Dinner a Snap
- Take one day and prepare pieces of meals (like brown the ground beef, chopping vegetables, baking a few chickens). Make sure the finished products are separated out into manageable amounts (I use the quart size freezer bags) and then freeze them. It’s easy to grab a pound of precooked ground beef, add some taco seasoning and water, and have tacos ready in under 15 minutes.
- When you do go all out and cook, make two entrees. If you are cooking meatloaf, then make two. Freeze the second one whole, or even better you can slice it into servings and freeze it that way. The Glad Press’n Seal products are great for this (It’s also nice to have these meals prepared in case you need to take dinner to a friend).
- When you freeze uncooked meats (like chicken breasts or hamburger patties) make sure you separate them out individually. This way you only have to defrost what you actually need.
- Crockpots are great for cooking a meal when you aren’t at home. I’ve always used mine for the traditional stew or pot roast, but recently found it is great for all kinds of dishes. There is nothing better than throwing a few ingredients into a pot – no fuss or mess – and then walking away. When we get back from a day of field trips, the meal is ready. (There are even great dessert recipes for crockpot cooking). Clean up is a breeze if you have some of the crockpot liners that are now sold in grocery stores.
*HINT* Be sure you turn the crockpot on, or the meal won’t cook (speaking from experience here).
- Share with friends. You could get together at a local church or community center and have a day of cooking. Everyone could bring ingredients (enough for three or four of their favorite casserole or meal) and then you could cook them and package them as a group. This not only feels your freezer with easy to fix meals but gives you a great variety as well.
- One of my favorite quick-fix dinners is breakfast. It’s also a treat for the kids to get pancakes or cream of wheat or cereal for dinner. Omelets can be made practically mess-free by using plastic quart bags. I saw this one on the Food Network, and I loved it.
- Don’t forget your leftovers. Just the other day I cut up some of the chicken from the 4th of July, set on some precooked pasta, covered it in spaghetti sauce and cheese, and cooked it at 325 degrees until the cheese was bubbling. A whole new meal with little fuss or mess.
Cooking doesn’t have to be a huge chore. The clean up AFTER cooking doesn’t have to be a nightmare. As I researched ideas for this article and scoured my brain for experiences, I was amazed at how many of us are trying to save time and money.
What are your favorite mealtime tips?