Having just recently gone back to work full time I’m learning that if I can find ways to eliminate even just a few seconds of kitchen crunch time, our household routine flows much better.
I’m most definitely still a work in progress when it comes to being more efficient in the kitchen (heck in the entire HOUSE), but here are some tried and true tips that work for me and my family.
10 Ways to Kill Kitchen Crunch Time
1. Timing is everything – use the self-timer on appliances. I prep our coffee maker at bedtime and preset brew time (usually for some time between 5:30 and 6 a.m.) and I use the timer on our new Hybrid Stainless Dishwasher from GE.
2. Unleash your inner creative crockpot cook - I tend to think of the crockpot as an appliance I dust off for use in the fall and winter for soups and stews, but there are literally hundreds of recipes that are also great during the summer, such as this Carnitas Shredded Slow Cooked Pork.
3. Make meal planning your BFF – Confession time. I am NOT great at meal planning. However, if I can just loosely jot down an idea for the week’s meals (leftover night, homemade pizza night, chicken dish night) on Sunday, it helps greatly. Hubby and I also tend to plan our dinners around what is on sale at the grocery (chicken or beef or, in the case of tonight, lemon-pepper tilapia.)
4. Keep emergency “no timer for dinner” dinners in the freezer - When your favorite brand of frozen pizza is on sale, buy two, one to cook immediately and one to freeze for those nights when you forget you have sports practice, car pool duty, a school program, and a late client meeting…all on the same day.
5. Double up on weekends – I have more time to spend in the kitchen over the weekends so it’s the perfect time to make extra homemade pancakes Sunday morning (and save for Monday leftovers or freeze). You can also double up on dry batches of other favorite baked goods. Take 15 minutes on the weekends to make a quadruple batch of the dry ingredients together. Then, when you’re ready to make pancakes, cookies, or muffins, half the job is already done.
6. Cook once, eat twice – Mondays are always typically our craziest night of the week. I like to cook enough for leftover the next evening. Skillet tacos, spaghetti, lasagna…these are some of my favorite cook once, eat twice favorites.
7. Use Pinterest for the greater good of family harmony - Create a Pinterest board specifically for your tried and true family favorite recipes, from dinner ideas to breakfast smoothies. Fixing favorite recipes eliminates any “Mom, I don’t like that” drama at the kitchen table.
8. Create a kids’ lunch organizing zone- Throughout the school year and on summer camp days, my girls take their lunch. I have a designated snack shelf in our utility room that features drinks and treats specifically for their lunch boxes. Putting all your plastic sandwich bags, snacks, juice boxes, etc. all in one place, such as a specific shelf or drawer, makes making lunches a snap.
9. Stay unplugged before breakfast. Resist the temptation to fire up your laptop or sit down with your smart phone and check email first thing in the morning. One minute quickly turns into 10 when you’re sucked into the online vortex. The more time I devote to getting ready in the mornings distraction free, the quicker I can get myself, and everyone else, out the door.
10. There’s an app for that – I’m a believer in unplugging (believe it or not), but consider using an app to save time and money in the kitchen. Apps like Grocery iQ make shopping more efficient. At the very least, download your favorite grocery store’s app to your phone (we love Publix) so you can easily scan sales while stuck in traffic or waiting in school or camp pick up line.
What tips do you have for eliminating crunch time in the kitchen? Share in the comments!
Disclosure: I received a GE Hybrid Stainless Steel Interior Dishwasher in exchange for a series of posts during March through May.