Does preparing your weeknight dinners leave you feeling stressed? Well, it shouldn’t. It’s time to stop scrambling to throw a nutritious dinner together at the last minute. And it’s time to stop letting so much food go to waste because it spoiled or because no one wanted leftovers.
In this post, we’re sharing five ways to save time and money when cooking for a family. Not only will these tips help cut down on the time you spend meal planning and cooking, but they’ll help keep some cash in your wallet as well. And who doesn’t want that? Make sure you implement these tips if you want dinner time to be easy peasy!
1. Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Quick question for you… How often do you have that last-minute conversation with your family about what you should all eat for dinner? The truth is, we’ve all been there and we’ve likely experienced it more than we’d care to admit. It’s annoying and it becomes a huge waste of time.
Instead of going back and forth with debating over your next meal, plan ahead. Pick a day each week that you want to go grocery shopping and plan out an entire week’s worth of meals before then. This means you’ll go to the store knowing exactly what you need to buy, thus eliminating any mid-week trips to the store because you forgot something.
When you plan your meals in advance, it takes the stress out of dinnertime. It’ll help you save time because you’ll spend less time wondering what you should eat. It can also save money because you’re able to be strategic about your meals by making the most of the ingredients you buy. It’ll help cut down on food waste by allowing you to use everything before it expires. It’s one time you should absolutely utilize if you want to make the most of your weeknight dinners.
2. Sign-Up for a Meal Delivery Service
How would you like to have pre-made meals delivered straight to your door that you simply have to heat up? Or would you prefer to have recipes with pre-portioned ingredients sent to you, allowing you to still do the cooking? Whichever one you prefer, there’s a meal delivery service for it! And there are plenty that is designed for families, which provide you with the portion sizes you need to feed a house of hungry kids.
There are so many subscription services today that has made cooking for a family a lot easier. The ones with pre-made meals are perfect time savers because you simply need to heat them up in the microwave or oven and then you can enjoy them (my personal favorite is Freshly). Services with pre-portioned ingredients, like Blue Apron, cut down on the prep time for you since everything is ready to go.
Not only is a meal delivery service great for saving times (fewer trips to the grocery store, less time in the kitchen), but they can also save you money. Pre-portioned meals help to cut down on food waste. This means that the money you’re spending is actually getting used and you don’t have to deal with unwanted leftovers the next day.
3. Read the Recipe Before You Begin Cooking
If you’re preparing a new dish, it’s a smart idea to read the full recipe before you actually get started. This will help eliminate any errors in cooking and it’ll help you feel much more confident as you’re putting your dish together. It’s a simple task, but it’ll help prepare you for what’s coming up after you’ve completed each step.
This is great for saving time in the kitchen because it dismisses that thought of what’s coming up next. Read through the recipe, prepare your ingredients, and get started with cooking. Plus, when your ingredients are already prepared, you can avoid any kitchen disasters like getting the wrong measurements. Cooking is much less stressful this way.
4. Cook Once for Multiple Dishes
One great way to save time in the kitchen is to cook something that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you can cook up a chicken over the weekend and use that very chicken in multiple dishes throughout the week. Chicken can be great when added to a soup, salads, tacos, or even on its own. Not only that, but it helps you make use of all the chicken you have, thus saving you money by preventing food waste.
Another handy tip is to make a large batch of homemade marinara sauce for future dishes. You can freeze the sauce for use on pasta, chicken, and even a fresh pizza. When the sauce is already made, it helps cut down on your time in the kitchen. You’ll be able to cook up something great in no time at all when you keep it on hand!
5. Make Use of the Slow Cooker
Do you own a slow cooker? If not, you should absolutely invest in one for your kitchen. The great thing about them is, they are available at a variety of price points. This means you won’t have to break the bank in order to purchase one. Once you’ve got one, you’ll love using it to prepare quick and easy dinners for you and your family.
A slow cooker allows you to prepare ingredients, place them inside, and then they’re able to cook low and slow throughout the day. You can walk away and let the slow cooker do its job and, by dinnertime, your meal will be ready for you and your family to enjoy.
Bone broth, chili, and even pasta can be made fast and easy in the slow cooker. You can even save money by buying the tougher cuts of meat (which are usually cheaper) and then cooking them on a low temperature for a few hours throughout the day. It’ll ensure the meat is tender by the time you’re ready to dig in. The ideas really are endless with the slow cooker, which is great because you can go about your day while dinner cooks.
About The Author:
Dan Scalco is a columnist at Inc, Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post. He covers business, marketing, and how to live an all-around healthy lifestyle.