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No matter if you work full time, stay at home with the kids, you’re single or retired, finding the inspiration to cook yourself or your family a wholesome, home-cooked midweek meals can be a challenge to say the least. It can be especially frustrating if you have picky eaters in the house.
You certainly don’t want to be cooking to order for fussy little ones or teenagers who refuse to eat certain things. What’s required to help you through the week is a little pre-planning and organisation. So, here are 8 time saving tips that will make your life a little easier in the kitchen.
This can take the stress out of your week, as being clueless about what is for dinner every night just creates stress. You don’t have to be a slave to your plan, but having a general idea of what you will cook 5 nights in a row will definitely make midweek meals easier. If you prefer to decide in advance what you’re going to cook each night – then go for it. Ensure your shopping list includes all the ingredients you’ll need for your meals, and if you want, wing it on the weekends.
If you have a little longer to spend on midweek meals, try making a double portion and freezing it. This can be a lifesaver when you are running short on time or ingredients and just want to re-heat. If you’re home from work late, a home cooked meal is better than take away, cheaper and better for the waist line.
I ditched my microwave years ago as I hardly every used it, so if you’re like me, take out whatever needs defrosting at breakfast time. It just requires a little forethought. Dishes like curries, spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, chilli, shepherds pie/cottage pie, and casseroles all work well here.
Batch cooking can get a little boring when you’re eating the same thing day after day, so get creative and reinvent your left overs. If you’ve made a large quantity of bolognese sauce, by adding a few different ingredients, you can make it into chilli con carne, moussaka or shepherds pie. Other easy leftover reinventions include frittatas, fried rice, and bubble and squeak.
Bulk Buy and Portion
Spending a little extra time prepping your weekly shop can pay dividends in the kitchen when it comes to midweek meals. Try buying your meat in bulk and dividing into ziplock bags. You will always be charged extra if you buy pre-cut/diced meat, so you’ll be saving yourself some money too.
If you hate chopping vegetables, or are really bad with a knife, you might want to consider pre-chopping your veg at the beginning of the week. It’s worth nothing though that you will lose some of the freshness as well as the vitamins and minerals by doing this.
Freeze Mashed Potato
If your family is crazy about mashed potato, you can make up a big batch of it and freeze it for midweek meals. However, this only really works well if you have a microwave. Line a tray with baking paper and use an ice-cream scoop or spoon to portion out your potato. Freeze for a few hours or overnight and then transfer to ziplock bags and put back in the freezer. To reheat it, place your desired portions in a bowl, cover and microwave on medium power for about 5 minutes. Stir it well, then continue heating on high in one minute intervals until it reaches the desired temperature.
Boil the Kettle
Have you ever seen Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals? You want to make the most of your kitchen appliances and time saving ideas, so boil your kettle rather than standing around waiting for cold water to come to the boil. This works for cooking pasta, boiling vegetables, and in face anything where cold liquid is not specified. Doing this can shave about 10 minutes off cooking times.
Defrost Meat Quickly
The best way to defrost anything is at room temperature or in the fridge, but if you’ve forgotten to take something out of the freezer, you can help it along by running it under luke warm water. Try to avoid microwaving at higher than defrost temperatures as you will end up with cooked bits at the edges and the middle still frozen.
If you have any super midweek meal time saving tips, let us know!