Four kitchen tips that save valuable time
If you’ve got a weakness for the take away or supermarket ready meals, there’s a good chance it’s because your starved of time. This goes double if you’ve got kids. Between shuttling them back and forth from schools and clubs, making sure they do their homework, getting their laundry done and ensuring they don’t run riot the moment your back is turned, all while having your own jobs to do, all too often the preparation of meals is something that gets squeezed into the gaps.

But home cooked meals can be healthier and far cheaper than processed fare, and the truth is with a little bit of forethought it really isn’t that hard. If you’ve always felt you should prepare more home cooked meals, but somehow never find the time to do so, these tips will help make it easier and more enjoyable.
1. Plan your week’s meals in advance
There’s a popular saying that you shouldn’t go food shopping when you’re hungry. The same goes for actually picking a meal. First there’s the dithering and indecision, then you realise that the kids are complaining they’re hungry and you’re also starving and it just seems so much easier to call up the pizzeria.

Sitting down at the weekend and making a list of dinners from Monday to Friday means you know exactly what you’re doing when you get through the door at the end of the day, as well as giving you something to look forward to through the afternoon. By having your recipe and ingredients already prepared, you can just dive right in, and by the time you’re all feeling hungry the food will be ready and waiting.

As well as being a timesaver, planning your meals helps you eat healthier because you see the week as a whole, rather than deciding on having chips for the third time in a week because they’re easy to do. Likewise, knowing what your meals are going to be ahead of time makes planning the house budget less of a challenge.
2. Pre-prepare your veg
If you’ve ever watched a cookery programme you’ve probably noticed how all those TV chefs seem to have their ingredients neatly chopped and prepared in little bowls well ahead of time. Of course cooking’s going to look easy if you’ve got that!

One of the advantages of our first tip, is it allows you to do just that. Once you know what you’re cooking, dice, slice and peel any vegetables you’re going to need and keep them in the fridge in airtight containers. This not only makes cooking easier and quicker, but it also means that the veg will stay fresher.

Peppers, onions, cucumbers, carrots or tomatoes are all great for slicing up on a Sunday and keeping to one side for stir-fries, curries or omelettes as and when you need them.
3. Big portions
Leftovers are the time-starved chef’s eternal friend. Whether it’s a big casserole that has extra portions left over the rest of the week, or a large meat joint with remnants you can use for soups, sandwiches and stews, this is another tip that will save you time and money in one go.

By making big dishes, you ensure you have more leftovers, giving you more to work with for the rest of the week. Of course, the caveat is that you actually have to use those leftovers, otherwise you end up with a fridge full of slowly mouldering kitchen waste.
4. Clean as you go
After you’ve cooked a meal and fed the family the last thing in world you’ll want to do is return to the kitchen and start scrubbing pots and pans. So as far as possible, clean up after yourself as you go. For a lot of dishes a large part of the preparation is waiting, so use those windows to clean up the utensils you’ve been using.

At least until your kids are old enough to do the washing up themselves, then you can set them to the task!

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Four kitchen tips that save valuable time