Before they came to our farm they told me that they wanted to ask me about recipes I make being a busy, farm cook and mom. That prompted me to think about ways I save time in the kitchen and I came up with my top 8 tips (I couldn't narrow it down to just five and couldn't think of ten, so eight it is!):
- Menu Planning - On Sundays, I review sales ads and what I have in the freezer and then plan seven days of meals. Having a plan for the week helps me save time by not guessing what I should make each night for supper - I already have a plan in place!
- Grocery List Easily Accessible - After I make my menu for the week, I make my grocery list. I put the ingredients I need on a magnetic grocery list pad on the side of my refrigerator. I also add items that I finish and need more of on the list throughout the week. Having this list on my refrigerator makes it easy to write down my needs for my next grocery run, because I only go to the grocery store once a week, since I live 15 miles from a large grocery store.
- Organize Grocery List in Order of Grocery Store Aisles - My Farmer thinks this is crazy but the night before I go on my grocery run I take my grocery list from the refrigerator and organize it in the order of the aisles in the grocery store. Doing this saves me tons of time in the store! That way I don't go half-way through the store and realize I forgot something back in aisle one... This might take me a couple minutes to do before my trip but it saves me even more time, and running around, while in the grocery store.
- Don't Grocery Shop During Rush Hours - I realize many people grocery shop after work because it is convenient, but changing to a non-rush time might save you more time than you think. The busiest times at a grocery store are 5-7 p.m. weekdays and anytime on the weekends. The slowest times are before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m. I personally get my groceries typically on Wednesdays at 1 p.m., which is a pretty slow time and nice when I have two kids in tow! By grocery shopping when I do I'm easily able to access each aisle and usually am able to check-out immediately (every once in awhile I might have to wait for one other shopper in front of me).
- Use Frozen Vegetables - Using frozen vegetables is a huge time saver. The vegetables come peeled, trimmed and are ready to cook, plus they are just as nutritious as fresh! I always have a nice stock of frozen sweet corn, cauliflower, broccoli and peas in my freezer. Also, I like to use different mixed vegetable bags in several dishes.
- Wash and Prepare Fresh Vegetables & Fruits Right Away - Now, there are certain vegetables and fruits that you just can't find frozen, and I love buying fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season. So when I do buy fresh vegetables and fruits I wash them, and cut them up if needed, as soon as I bring them home from the grocery store. Have you ever bought some celery, put it in your refrigerator, and then by the time you got around to actually washing it, it wasn't crisp anymore? Well, if you would have taken just a little time when you first brought the celery home and washed, cut it up and stored it in a sealed container, you number one, probably would have started eating the celery sooner and number two, it stays crisper, longer, in a sealed container. This tip in the end saves you time and money!
- Organize Kitchen Drawers and Cabinets - Having organized drawers and cabinets in your kitchen will save you time, and frustration, while cooking. I like to keep utensils I use a lot when cooking on the stove, close to the stove, and a big thing for me is having an organized "Tupperware" cabinet. All of my lids are organized by size and kept in a small wooden crate inside the cabinet, and my containers are are organized and nested inside of similar styles and sizes. Also, everyone once in awhile clean out all of your containers and lids and see what containers don't have a matching lid anymore and vice versa, what lids don't have a container anymore and toss!
- Have Kids Help (with the dishes...) - I love having my kids in the kitchen with me and having LP in particular, help me cook and bake, but this does not save time. It is fun! but it usually adds time in the kitchen. But having LP help me with the dishes does help me save time! He loves putting dishes in the dishwasher and handing me dirty dishes from the kitchen table, and at the same time he loves putting away clean dishes from the dishwasher and handing me bigger things to put away.
I hope these tips will help you save some time in the kitchen! Also, I wanted to share one of the recipes I shared as part of my Farm News article with all of you. This is my twist on my Great Aunt Mary's Shrimp Dip. This is an easy appetizer to put together, plus it is delicious! This is definitely a staple for any of our family get togethers - I think it is just expected that I am suppose to bring Shrimp Dip, along with whatever else I am in-charge of ;)
1 8-ounce container cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
8 ounces salad shrimp
Crackers, to serve with dip
Cream the cream cheese and mayonnaise together.
Stir in green pepper, onion and shrimp.
Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Serve with crackers.
What are some of your tips to help save time in the kitchen? Or do you have any signature dishes? Remember to Comment for a Cause!