Saving Time (and Sanity) in the Kitchen
I know I have written about this topic before, but I thought I might reiterate. Here are some of the things I do to stay on top of kitchen duty......
Prepare more - make larger batches of food
So, last night we made falafel for dinner, but instead of making the amount we thought we might eat on that one occasion, we made four times the amount (in a bucket!, not a bowl). We made one quarter of the mixture into falafel, then separated the rest into three storage containers and stuck them in the freezer. This works well with waffles (place cooked waffles in an air-tight container and freeze; to use just defrost in the toaster), fritters, soup, dips, sauces.....
Another option is to make a (large) dish, say beef, without a lot of seasoning the first night, just quite simple, and serve with vegetables, etc. On night two season the beef differently to make the basis of an entirely different meal; for example, add Italian seasonings like rosemary, thyme, oregano and marjoram and serve over zucchini noodles or tortellini, etc. Another option would be to add oregano, chilies and smoked paprika to the beef and serve with tortillas, guacamole and a shredded salad for a Mexican feast. You get the idea now. This idea works well for chicken, too.
I always cook too many vegetables at dinner on purpose - I like to have them on-hand for the next day, especially to use for breakfast and packed lunches. For example, I roast two trays of vegetables, one with say potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and other root veg and the second with onion, cauliflower and eggplant. I serve the root veggies with dinner and keep the other tray to serve with fried eggs or to make omelettes with (that way I don't have to wait for the veg to cook in the morning and things go a bit faster).
Cook/Prep other items when you are already in the kitchen
If I'm already in the kitchen I might as well cook more things to be used later. For example, I might make chia pudding, yogurt or custard while I'm standing at the stove making dinner. Or I can blanch excess produce like carrots or peas which can be stored in the freezer (to do this, quickly blanch or steam the veg, then pack it into freezer-safe contains and place in freezer, labeled with a date). Sometimes, if I have excess produce that is looking like it needs using, but we have had our fill of it that week; I might pickle or ferment the vegetables instead (either cook the pickling vinegar or make a salt brine, respectively, and pour over prepared veg in clean glass jars).
Ready-to-go dry mixes
I like to have dry ingredient mixes on-hand so we can make staple items quickly. For example, I place the dry ingredients for pancakes or grain-free cereal mix or crumble topping in a container, label it and write on the lid the additional ingredients (for pancakes it would read: Pancake Mix, add 3/4c milk and 2 eggs). This way anyone in the family can prepare it. Just think about the items you make often, especially baked items and recipes using cereals/grains. Say your family likes chocolate chip cookies, then next time you make a batch of them get out a couple storage contains and add the dry ingredients to each of those, too, and store them in your pantry.
Another thing I find useful for work days is to have snacks ready for when someone is 'hangry' or when things fall apart. I tend to rely on things like sweet or savoury slices, bliss balls or 'bark'. Most of these recipes are raw and can be stored in the freezer. This way you can make a large batch and store them, just taking a few to the fridge to defrost when needed. Also, keeping frozen, chopped fruit in the freezer ready to make smoothies or 'nice cream' with is important - this also works when you're running late in the morning and need a quick breakfast; or a fast dessert.
Another quick smoothie idea is to make smoothie bags - fill bags with the fruit and dry ingredients you add to smoothies and place them in the freezer. Then when you want to make one you just tip the bag in the blender and add the liquid ingredients. Alternatively, you can make a large smoothie, then freeze it in ice cube trays and tip out the frozen blocks into bags; then when you want a smoothie you just put the blocks back through the blender.
Ice blocks are great to have around during warmer months. You can also hide a lot of ingredients in popsicles/icy poles like collagen/gelatin, liver, vegetable juices, nettle tea, protein powder, etc. I've made icy poles out of unsalted bone broth and fresh squeezed blood orange juice and everyone loved them. The same goes for jelly!
I hope this has helped give you some new ideas and has inspired you to try new things in your kitchen.
Enjoy - Nikki x