After a long, stressful day at work, how excited are you to get home and cook a nutritious meal from scratch for the whole family. Not very, right? We feel the same. That’s why we’ve come up with these easy kitchen hacks to save you time and energy, and get food on the table in a jiffy.
By Jana du Plessis
1. Do your prep work
To bring prep time right down, cut up fresh fruit and veggies over the weekend and store them in airtight containers in the fridge. However, be mindful of which foods may spoil before you’re ready to use them – bananas, apples and potatoes, for example, will oxidise and turn brown quickly. But carrots, cucumbers, baby marrows and even oranges are happy to be stored for a few days. Just be sure to wash and dry all produce before cutting and storing.
2. Make a menu
Get in the habit of planning your meals in advance. This way, you will know exactly which ingredients you need to stock up on (saving you time and money at the grocery shop), and you won’t waste time trying to decide what to prepare when you get home from work (when that pizza delivered straight to your door seems extra enticing). Buy the base ingredients over the weekend and fill up on extras during the week if need be. This also helps cuts down on wastage, as you will have exactly the ingredients you need on hand, and nothing more.
3. Stock up
Shop for healthy pre-packaged/tinned ingredients such as beans, tomatoes, tuna and peas, so you can throw something nutritious together in a hurry. Frozen stir-fry or roast vegetables are also super quick and tasty, and fresh herbs and spices will do wonders to pep up the flavour.
4. Defrost overnight
Bulk-buy staples such as bread, milk, butter and meat once a month and keep them in the freezer until you need them (just be sure to keep expiration dates in mind though). This is when your weekly menu comes in handy: take out the items you’ll need for the next day and pop them in the fridge to defrost overnight. When it comes time to cook, you’ll be ready to go. Saved time? Yep! Saved money? You bet!
5. Clean as you go
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water before you start cooking so you can clean the dishes as you go. By the time you’re serving the meal, the dishes will be drying on the rack already. Another tip is to double the use of your pots and pans: fry onions in the rendered meat fat left over after cooking in the pan or boil your rice in the water used for boiled eggs. Fewer dishes means less washing up – and who would complain about that?