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10 smart ways to save time in the kitchen

Plate made to look like a clock

If you’d like to minimise the time you spend in the kitchen, dietitian Caroline Trickey has 10 smart ways to save time but still cook healthily.

1 Plan your meals

And shop in advance — so when you get home from work, you’ll have ready-to-go food in the fridge, and you’ll know what to cook for dinner.

2 Use fast, simple recipes

Recipes you’re familiar with, which have a handful of ingredients and simple steps take less time. Read through your recipe so you can mentally prepare the best order to do things in.

3 Create one-pan meals

Roast veggies together with meat, chicken or fish in a single pan, or make one-pot meals where everything goes into one pot and cooks slowly. This frees up hands-on time — and saves on washing-up too!

4 Cook once, eat twice

Many meals can be rejigged into variations. Bolognese, for example, can be made into a delicious chilli simply by adding beans and spices. Cold roast meat or veggies make a great addition to a salad, or as fillings for wraps or tacos.

5 Use prepared items

Shop-bought, tomato-based pasta sauce is a great example of a healthy premade option that’s close to what you would make yourself. It can save you a lot of time. Canned legumes are also quick and ready-to-go.

6 Keep your knives sharp

Not only are you less likely to cut yourself, but slicing or dicing will be a dream — and a lot faster!

7 Cut your veggies smaller

Whether you’re boiling, steaming or roasting, smaller pieces will cook a lot faster. Grated veggies cook in just a few minutes. Mandolines are a great tool to help you quickly slice and dice — just make sure that you always use the ‘hat’ to protect your fingers! Ground or minced meat will also cook faster than diced meat.

8 Choose quick-cook grains or noodles

Couscous and many dry noodles only require boiling water to be poured over, and a few minutes to soak. Pastas that are legume-based and made from chickpeas and red lentils are low GI, high protein and fibre rich. They also cook quickly, and are ready in just 6–7 minutes.

9 Boil water in the kettle

It’s usually faster than in a pot on the stove. After all, that’s what kettles are for!

10 Use your freezer

Frozen vegetables are great to have on hand when cooking in large batches on the weekend, or when there‘s more time. Freeze portions so they’re ready to heat-and-eat during a time-poor week. It can be a real lifesaver!

First published: May 2021