You may be a culinary buff, but even cooking a simple meal can sound like a challenging project when you are super-busy. It often happens with busy professionals running on tight schedules. Things can get problematic when you have hungry kids or demanding parents to handle.
The pandemic has made the situation worse as you do not have the option of taking them out to a restaurant because of the fear of the virus. You may also skip ordering for the same reasons. Life couldn’t get more challenging for time-pressed people who prefer to cook at home rather than eat out or order.
Thankfully, some simple meal hacks can come to your rescue in such tight situations. They enable you to manage a decent-looking meal for your loved ones without skipping work or feeling stressed about the task. Here are some smart cooking hacks shared by real people who struggle with tight schedules.
6 Cooking hacks to save time
Cook at your “freshest” time
If you feel freshest in the morning, cook for the entire day during the early hours. That’s the best thing to do if you want to avoid spending hours in the kitchen every evening after a long day at work. If you don’t want to get the dinner ready in the morning, you can prep or semi-cook to save time in the evening.
It enables you to take advantage of the morning energy and rest when you come back after work. Try it even if you work from home because you will not feel stressed about dinnertime the entire day. Additionally, a work deadline will not have you anxious about getting late for dinner when half the job is already done.
Keep your pantry stocked
Cooking becomes a lot easier when you don’t have to rush to the market to buy ingredients at the last moment. It makes sense to get smart with your weekend shopping lists and keep your pantry well-stocked. Ensure that you never run short of staples such as grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and cooking oil.
Once you have the basics, it is easy to churn up something delicious, even on short notice. While you must have everything in your pantry, make sure it is organized too. You wouldn’t want to stress out hunting for stuff when you already have jam-packed schedules. Keep everything visible and organized, and cooking will be a lot easier.
Make the best use of your fridge and freezer
Your pantry is the best place to start with smart cooking, but you can go the extra mile by making the best use of your fridge and freezer. There are plenty of ways to utilize them for shortcuts in cooking. You can dice fruits and veggies and freeze them for future use.
It cuts the cooking time to half, and you need not worry about getting the shapes perfect when you are in a hurry. If you have kids who relish fast food, stock up some delicious frozen options like Chicago style hot dogs and gourmet sandwiches.
You wouldn’t have to do much to serve a yummy meal, even on a busy day. You can even order these options online and have the meals ready to heat and eat in a few minutes.
Have a go-to menu for your home
When it comes to cooking smart, having a go-to menu for your family gets you in a good place. Most busy people worry about deciding what to cook as much as actually cooking a meal. Matching the preferences and expectations of everyone in the family can be even more stressful.
It makes sense to sit together every weekend and have a meal plan ready for the next week. Get suggestions from every member and decide the menu that works for them all. Write it on a sticky note and put it on the refrigerator for everyone to see.
It will be much easier to get down to work straight away when you don’t need to decide. Also, cover for special occasions and last-minute demands. Thankfully, frozen meals can be your saviors at such moments too.
Seek help with cooking
When you are super busy and cannot order or dine out, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Seek support from your spouse or kids if they are old enough. You can delegate age-appropriate tasks for the young ones, such as washing dishes and laying the table.
If your partner isn’t good at cooking, you can ask him to help with cutting and chopping. It is a good idea to train them so that they can pitch in when your schedules go super-tight, or you simply need a break.
After all, you deserve it as much as anyone else does. Start with easy stuff such as heating frozen dishes and serving them with healthy salads. They will definitely learn the art sooner than you expect.
Find motivation for cooking
Even the busiest people can fit cooking into their schedules if they feel motivated enough. You will be surprised to know that cooking can be therapeutic, just like exercise, music, and meditation are. Use weekends to hone your culinary skills and try new quick recipes you can add to your menu.
You can discuss healthy and quick options with your co-workers who struggle with the same woes. Follow some smart cooking pages on Facebook and Instagram, and you can get some new hacks and ideas to save time even as you mix up some delicious dishes for your family. Expect praise from your family and be vocal about it because it can boost your motivation and energy.
Cooking when you are always busy can be a real challenge. But you can find some simple shortcuts that can make life easier. Don’t hesitate to take a break, even if you cannot dine out or order from your favorite restaurant. You can try some frozen delights and have a lavish meal for your family. Remember that you should enjoy cooking because it reflects in the flavor of the food.