Cooking Hacks for Quick and Easy Meals at Home


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Even when people desire to cook healthy meals for their family, there isn’t always enough time to do it. The hour or two after getting home from work is busy enough as it is, especially for families with young children. With endless errands already competing for time, it seems easier to order take-out or put a frozen pizza in the oven. The good news is that eating a nutritious meal with the whole family gathered around the table is entirely possible with some careful scheduling and meal preparation shortcuts.

Defrost Meat the Night Before

Every meal needs a little protein, which often comes in the form of meat. However, some meats can take up to 30 minutes to defrost before cooking even starts. Putting meat in the refrigerator to unthaw the night before ensures that it’s ready to cook for the next day’s dinner.

Buy Vegetables Pre-Peeled and Sliced

Peeling and slicing vegetables adds a lot of time to dinner preparation, not to mention that it can potentially be dangerous. To get dinner on the table faster, buy vegetables in bags that have already been peeled and sliced, add them to the meal, or make a side dish with them. There’s always time for fresh vegetables from the garden on weekends or other time off.

Choose Healthy Meals from a List of Family Favorites

Some people resist this idea because they’re afraid it will become boring, but it also saves a lot of time. Preparing dinner from a list of several favorites cuts down on prep time because it’s something the cook has made in the past. Planning a menu for all work and school days in the upcoming week is also a real time-saver. Downtime can be reserved for the more adventurous meals or for going out to eat.

Use a Slow Cooker

What could be easier than throwing a pot roast, chicken and vegetables, or sloppy joes in a slow cooker in the morning and coming home to a dinner that’s almost made? It only requires taking the food out of the slow cooker, adding a side or two, and setting the table and it’s already time to eat.

Cook a Few Big Meals Over the Weekend

Weekends are a time to relax and to get other errands done. Even so, setting aside even an hour or two to prepare the main staples of next week’s dinners can save a lot of time. Lasagna and casseroles are two examples of cook-ahead meals that are easy to prepare. When it’s time for dinner during the week, just reheat the prepared meal and add vegetables or a side salad.

Buy or Prepare Frozen Dumplings

Frozen dumplings offer many fast and convenient options at meal time. They can be boiled, skilled-fried, steam-fried, or steamed and prepared in batches ahead of time. It’s also possible to buy frozen dumplings already made so all the cook needs to do is spread them out evenly on a pan and place them in the oven. A hot and delicious snack or side dish will be ready in minutes.

While these six tips can’t add time to the day, they can reduce the time spent preparing a meal and leave more time to enjoy it.