Friday, March 28, 2014

8 Tips To Save Time in the Kitchen + Recipe

A week ago I had the pleasure of having Farm News, a weekly agriculture/rural newspaper publication in Iowa, come into my kitchen and interview me for their Farm Cook series.  It was so much fun having them come in and ask me about my passion for food, family and farming.  I love being a stay-at-home mom and being able to prepare home-cooked meals for my family twice a day and all week long.  Not many people have that opportunity and I'm proud and lucky that I do.

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!):

8 Tips to Save Time in the Kitchen

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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 ;)

Shrimp Dip Recipe - Easy & Delicious Appetizer

Shrimp Dip

Shrimp Dip Ingredients
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

Shrimp Dip - cream the cream cheese and mayo

Cream the cream cheese and mayonnaise together.

Shrimp Dip - stir in shrimp, onion and green pepper

Stir in green pepper, onion and shrimp.

Shrimp Dip recipe

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!


  1. LOVE THIS!!! Especially the part about your "Tupperware" Cabinet!

  2. Enjoyed your tips. I need to get more organized. I like living near a grocery store, but then again, I feel like I never plan ahead and am always running to get something. Shrimp dip looks great.

    1. Yes, there are pros and cons of living close or far from a grocery store. There are times I just have to look at my pantry and throw something together because my grocery trip got delayed for some reason. I luckily do have a small grocery store open limited hours just five minutes away so I can grab a gallon of milk before 6pm if I know I'm close to running out!

  3. Have to agree about the Shrimp dip, but I'd have to eat it all myself. And the kitchen helper is always good, the sooner they start, the more the keep helping. I taught the kid to run the washer because he wouldn't put his clothes in the hamper and I worked, so now, he still doesn't use the hamper, but he washes his own clothes still!

    1. The shrimp dip is very easy to consume in one sitting. We've got to teach our kids how to do things that way they can do it when they're on their own. I can't believe the number of people I met in college that never did a load of laundry till they got to college (and some still brought it home...)!

  4. I was excited to see you in FarmNews last week! So fun to be at the office and say " I know her!" ...also, love tip #6 on cutting and washing as soon as you're home. Great idea!

    1. Thanks Alicia! Once I made a conscious effort to do #6 I truly believe we eat more fruits and vegetables in our house and waste less.

  5. I was surprised to see that we do most of the same things to save time in the kitchen! One thing I started doing for meal planning this fall was using the local school lunch menu to help plan my weekly menu. It helps me prepare different foods I might not have thought to serve my kiddos plus it saves me time thinking up those 5 meals. For my grocery list, I use the app Cozi. It has a shopping list built in and I set up lists by aisle/dept. When I get the item I can check it off by touching the screen so I don't need to keep track of my pen/paper while trying to keep track of my little shoppers.

    The one tip I am not so great about doing is prepping fruits/veggies as soon as I get home. I often do it for grapes and melons but hardly ever for veggies. Something new to shoot for. :)

    1. That's a great idea Joslyn - to look at the school lunch menu or lunch ideas at home. I'm getting a new phone this week hopefully so I'll have to download Cozi. I've looked into it but just haven't downloaded it yet so might as well wait a couple days now... Thanks for passing along your ideas!

  6. Nancy Bohl BormannMarch 31, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Read your article in Farm News today - cute photo of you guys! Reece likes to "help" in the kitchen too. :)

    1. Thanks Nancy! There aren't too many times the LP doesn't ask to help and my step ladder he thinks is his. :)

  7. This is easy enough I think I'll try it for Christmas Eve.

  8. Which tastes better for the shrimp dip recipe - mayo (like the recipe) or salad dressing (like the picture)?

    1. I've made it with both and I prefer salad dressing.