How to make your time in the kitchen easier!
Do you like to save time in the kitchen?
Do you like tricks and tools to help you spend less time cooking?
This post is for you, read more to learn quick tricks to help make food preparation easier and more fun.
Spending hours in the kitchen doesn’t need to be boring and tiring. Certain tricks and the right tools can make your daily time in the kitchen more pleasant. I have a large family and so, I am accustomed to “cooking for a crowd” on a regular basis. There are several things I do on certain days, often the weekends. These will save me time during the upcoming work week when I have less time for cooking.
Dicing and chopping – do a lot at once!
While I’m slicing onion or peppers for a salad, I cut extra and leave it in a re-sealable bag or container. This makes it easy to grab a handful to throw into sauce or sauté with vegetables. I will do the same when I am chopping vegetables, if they are already cut up, I am much more likely to cook them. Adding more veggies to your meals is healthy for you!
When I fry breaded chicken cutlets for dinner, I cook 3 or more pounds. Half is our dinner for the first night. The other half immediately goes into a baking dish with sauce and cheese for chicken parmigiana on another night. If your children are old enough to use the oven, they can put the dinner in the oven themselves. I can walk in the front door to smell dinner cooking in the oven!
When we grill chicken, we make several pounds and it gets used all week long in salads, with pasta or rice, in chicken soup or chicken sandwiches.
When I make baked potatoes, I make extra to chop up for home fries the next morning. Any time I can cook for more than one meal at a time, I take advantage of it.
When I cook staples like pasta and rice, I often double up and make extra. The pasta will be our dinner for the first night and the extra may become a pasta salad or noodles for a soup for another day. With extra rice, I can add it to a soup or mix it with leftover veggies to make a lite dinner or lunch for work.
Plan for Leftovers
If I cook something time consuming like ziti, chicken Marsala or beef stew I automatically double or triple the recipe. We eat one tray of ziti the first night and a full tray goes in the freezer for a busy week when time to make dinner is limited. I also do this with soups and sauces, like Francese sauce, Marsala sauce or potato soup.
I have learned that certain items bring delight over and over and many of them happen to be in my kitchen. Given that I spend many hours in the kitchen, a really great cooking tool or gadget, makes cooking easier and brings me satisfaction over and over. I love money well spent! Below is my list of my current favorite kitchen items that make me happy and also make cooking and entertaining easier. Not that kitchen items are all top on my gift list at all, but given the amount of hours I spend in the kitchen each week, it is wonderful to have the right tools!
Not only can you make smoothies and shakes, you can puree some serious soups with this blender!! Our first blender from when we got married didn’t last very long once my husband started making smoothies on a daily basis. The replacement blender he bought was fine until we burnt out the motor smoothing out some delicious potato soup. After some debate, we decided to make the bigger investment in the larger version of the Ninja. One of the great advantages is that the Ninja comes with several sizes of containers so we can blend multiple items at a time. My husband can have his smoothie, I can make a small health shake to bring to work and we still have the main blender available to make soup. The Ninja comes in several sizes and price ranges depending on your needs.
This pot is perfect for cooking pasta, bags of rice, potatoes, chicken and more. I have barely used my strainer since getting this new pasta pot. There is no space wasted in the sink and no big strainer to clean. The lid is smaller and easier to clean than the large plastic strainer. My new pot is also deeper than my old one, so it does not boil over as easily. There was nothing wrong with my old pot but this new pasta pot with the built in strainer is a great time saving tool.
This heavy press is great for making Panini’s, fried bagels, bacon, chicken and more. I have only used it to grill a few items but lately I’ve been doing some research and found several other great ideas:
Food Network: 10 Unexpected Things to Make in a Panini Press
This pan is in constant use in my house for pancakes, french toast, grilled cheese, paninis and more. Being able to cook four of everything (instead of 2 or 3) at a time is worth it. It fits easier in your cabinet and is easy to clean. It also works perfectly with my grill press to cook more yummy foods.
This pot is more expensive than a drip pot and the coffee can be costly but I would Never go back to my old coffee pot now. I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay for my Keurig, I won it at a school fundraiser. I had no idea how much I would like it. This Keurig pot is so convenient that I also got the small single cup for work. There is always a fresh cup and so many choices of what to have! Coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, chai tea, tea from a pod or just hot water and your teabag, we use it constantly. My kids can use it themselves for tea or hot cocoa easily without any worry of them burning themselves. The pods can be expensive but there are plenty of stores to get a better price or use a coupon.
I have gotten several pot holders over the last few years that are thick and heat resistant but they are so thick that it is tough to grab the hot pan. This silicone piece is small and much more flexible to grab a pan out of the oven or take a lid off a hot pot on the stove. It is small enough to manipulate your hand but offers enough protection to avoid the heat. I got mine for a few dollars on a recent visit to Crate & Barrel, or here are a few similar versions. Often the small tools are the most useful!
I thought my husband was a bit silly for buying a bagel slicer, when he is perfectly capable of slicing a bagel himself! But now that we have it, and all my kids can cut their own bagels safely, it has earned its spot in my kitchen. The slicer always cuts bagels evenly so there is no problem fitting it in the toaster. It is also quite handy when you have company and need to slice lots of bagels quickly.
Music is an absolute must for our house. My “party music” for years was a 10 CD changer with detachable speakers so that I could put one speaker in the house and one speaker outside. Talk about old technology! I graduated to an iPod and small speaker but my new favorite is my JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth speaker. When I upgraded my phone, I turned my old one into my music iPod. The Bluetooth speaker has great sound and can be moved anywhere in the house or even outside for summer parties. I like that we can customize the playlists depending on the crowd. My daughter was happy that I made a playlist with current music for her pool party rather than playing my “old people” music. I love that I can play any music any time, it inspires my cooking! The JBL Charge is a great speaker and has a long battery life, I have used it for 8 hours or more without running down the battery.
Whatever makes your time in the kitchen easier, you should have it! What are your favorite kitchen tools? Let us know!
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