Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Time Management in the Kitchen

Time management in the kitchen is all about planning ahead and working smart. These are definitely not new ideas, but worth putting down in writing to refresh ourselves! Also these are things I know I should do, but don't always get done!

My Top Ten Time Management Tips in the Kitchen are:

1. Plan your menus ahead of time. For some people this is better done by the month or week. I tend to do it a day ahead. Hey, that's better than a minute ahead!!! LOL But really I just kind of have an idea what we're having a week ahead, but finalize the menu that day or the day before.

2. Plan your menus based on grocery sales and what's already in your pantry or freezer.

3. Use the crock pot. This isn't a very good option for me because I haven't found a meal cooked in my crock pot that's good after being cooked all day. My crock pot cooks really hot and cooking all day in it produces a very overcooked meal!

But, I can still use it if I plan. I could ask my son to start it for me at a later time in the day when he is working night shift. I could use a timer. I could ask my husband to come home and turn it on.

I mostly use my crock pot on the weekends because I can be there to monitor it. In the winter time especially my crock pot really gets a workout!

4. Cook your meals early in the morning. I love to do this, but most foods aren't as good if they've been refrigerated all day. Also, the food and its container are really hot and I don't like to put them in the refrigerator just before going out the door to work. I have done this by placing the container on a hot pad in the fridge. But, this isn't good for the energy used by the fridge....

On the days I'm home from work, this is a great time saver because I can wait until the food is cool to put it in the fridge.

5. If you don't want to completely cook the meal ahead of time, prepare it as much as you can. Lasagna and many casseroles can be put together in the morning or night before and popped into the oven when you come in the door.

6. Weekend cooking! Sunday afternoon is a good time to cook some foods ahead of time for the week. A roast can be slow cooked in the oven or crock pot. Spaghetti sauce, chilli or soup can be made and refrigerated. I have put these on to cook while cooking our Sunday Dinner. It's not that much extra work and saves so much time later on in the week.

Also freezer cooking is popular with many people. Just cook a couble batch of what ever you are cooking and freeze one for later.

7. If you have planned your menus, remember to thaw out anything needed ahead of time. Last night I remembered that I'd like to make spaghetti or lasagna tonight. So I placed the frozen ground beef in the refrigerator so it would be thawed by the time I get home tonight. Much quicker and better than thawing it in the microwave at the last minute! If I wait until the morning the food is to be cooked to place it in the fridge, it doesn't quite have time to completely thaw, so I have to remember to do it the day before.

8. Its much better to think about what's on the menu the night before. Even if you don't start the meal or have to thaw anything, you can stay on top of things better!

9. When it comes to cleaning and organizing in the kitchen, I like to do this in small chunks of time. You can clean out one cabinet while the coffee is brewing. You can clean out the junk drawer while having a chat with your mother on the phone. Continually doing this will keep the kitchen neat and clean without it becoming a time consuming thing.

10. If it's not dirty, don't clean it! I only concentrate on the things that need attention. For a baked on blob on the stove or a drip that has dried on the counter, just squeeze a little water from your dish cloth on it (or a spray cleaner) and let it sit for a few minutes while you are doing something else. When you come back it wipes right off without any effort! A small time saver, but a time saver nonetheless!

For more Kitchen Tips, please visit Tammy's Recipes.


happyhousewife said...

Great tips, thanks for sharing...

Joelle said...

About overcooking in the crockpot, try using a lamp timer to have it come on a few hours before you need to eat. A friend of mine wrote a slow cooker cookbook and that was one of her tips.

Sonshine said...

Thanks for the reminders! Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of a day it is easy to forget that planning ahead can save time in kitchen later.

BarbaraLee said...

I have found that if I put my menus into the computer on my i-cal as an event w/time to repeat when ever. It's prerecorded. It will take time to plan but in a few months or so you have them done.

the nest egg said...

Great post! I agree with you about the crock pot. Mine cooks too hot even on low to be left all day while at work.

Keep the time management post coming! :) I need to learn all I can!

Elizabeth said...

Great Tips Debbie,
I do all my cooking in the morning. Then come supper time i am ready.

Simple Family Supper lady said...

Menu planning is my "thing"! It saves a ton of money and time as well as stress and frustration. The crock pot is my secret weapon... I use it many times a week.

A Sunday Nugget - Mercy

I am so thankful for God's Mercy!!!  I can never, ever, be good enough, but with His Mercy, I am made whole. Matthew 5:7 - "Bless...