by Ariel Knutson
Sometimes spending all day in the kitchen is a total joy. Other times you just want to get dinner on the table as fast as possible. That’s why all smart cooks have a few time saving hacks in their back pocket. Fair warning: It takes time to make time. Effort up front means you can have a delicious meal without spending hours by the stove.
Here are some of our favorite time saving hacks for shaving off some minutes in the kitchen, so you can do literally anything else.
1. Lean on smart grocery shortcuts.
Some of the best time-saving kitchen tips can be found in the grocery store. For example, if you’re making chicken salad, use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken yourself. Roasting some veggies? Grab a bag of pre-cut frozen vegetables so you don’t have to prep anything. We also approve of pre-minced garlic and throwing a couple bagged salads to your cart for the easiest lunch ever.
Read More: Our Favorite Healthy Supermarket Shortcuts
2. Read the recipe *before* you start cooking.
How many times have you been in the middle of cooking a recipe, only to realize: You forgot to prep something in advance. Or, you don’t have the right tool for the job. It might seem obvious, but it’s truly shocking just how much time you can save by simply reading a recipe upfront.
3. Keep a scrap bowl.
I learned about this helpful tip when I went to culinary school, and it really makes a difference: Keep a bowl by your work station for scraps. This way, instead of wasting time going back and forth to the garbage or compost, you can just get rid of your scraps all at once.
4. Use quick or passive cooking appliances.
The real superheroes in the kitchen — besides you, duh! — are the smart appliances that make cooking so much easier, faster, or both. You know the ones we’re talking about: the pressure cooker, the slow cooker, and the air fryer. All you have to do is choose a recipe, buy the ingredients, and sit back and let someone else (er, the appliance) do the work.
5. Two words: Batch cook.
Instead of making a meal that lasts you for only one night, double or triple the recipe so it lasts for a few days. It might take some effort up front, but it’ll save you time throughout the week. And if you don’t want to have the same meal the next day? Try freezing it for later, if you can! Recipes that are especially good for batch cooking include hearty lunch salads, soup, stews, and casseroles.
P.S. Try this smart clean-up tip: Saving time while you’re cooking is great, but saving time while you’re cleaning up is just as good (even better?). Because honestly, who in their right mind likes cleaning up! Here’s one of the best tips for making clean-up faster: put a bin of soapy water on your counter and when you’re done using a utensil that can’t go in the dishwasher (if you have one!) put it in the bin. This way, if anything is caked in grease it’ll be easier to clean when the time comes to start washing.