1. Wash and prepare produce all at one time.

Healthy eating takes more preparation time than eating junk food. Avoid grabbing the chip bag (my weakness) by prepping your produce when you bring it home from the grocery store. Immediately prepping the produce (or at least some of it) saves time in the kitchen and calories. For example, place your grapes in a clean sink, and fill with white vinegar and water to clean. Rinse the grapes, and make individual servings in baggies. These are easy to grab for a quick snack, and when it’s time to eat the grapes, you don’t have to wash them and pull them off the stems.

You can also do this with baby carrots and cucumbers. When cucumbers are in season, I like to peel them, chop them up, and put them in baggies. They make a great side with a sandwich for a quick lunch. Red, yellow, and green peppers are also good for prepping ahead of time. If you prep your produce immediately when you bring it home from the store, you will save time. If you can’t wash and chop everything immediately, just find a time that works for you! And it may be different every week!

  1. Bake enough chicken or brown enough lean ground beef for two meals.

One day it dawned on me that I don’t have to bake chicken two days in a row if it’s on the menu! I can bake enough for two meals, refrigerate it, and use it when needed. Let’s say I plan to eat baked, barbecue chicken on Monday and chicken pot pie on Tuesday. Well, I can make enough chicken on Monday for Tuesday’s meal and save time and dish washing on Tuesday! Brown enough lean ground beef for spaghetti and tacos if you plan those menu items in the same week!

  1. Cook three days in a row, and skip cooking the next two.

Prepare enough food during the three days so you have leftovers for the other meals. I have tried out cooking on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, and this schedule works well for us. I don’t cook on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and I begin cooking again on Fridays.

  1. Drink protein shakes or smoothies for a meal.

These shakes are delicious and very healthy! Shakes also give you a break from heavy eating!

  1. Eat out once or twice a week.

Be reasonable about what and where you eat, but this is obviously a huge time saver in the kitchen. We usually eat out on one of the days I don’t cook (Wednesday or Thursday). And sometimes we just bring home take-out.

  1. Cook two meals at the same time.

On Tuesdays, I will often cook two meals at the same time. This is a great practice for making sure I have enough to eat on the days I don’t cook. If your leftovers are not going as far as you thought, and your non-cooking days are around the corner, just make two meals while already working on one in the kitchen!

  1. Clean as you cook to avoid a huge mess after dinner.

Have you ever cooked a huge meal and felt like crawling under the table to avoid cleaning up when the meal was over? Keep a sink full of hot, soapy water while you are cooking. Every so often, stop and wash a few dishes and wipe down the counters. I like washing at least some of the dishes before serving the meal. This saves time after eating the meal.

Cooking is something that we all do no matter the size of our families. Preparing meals takes time and thought. I hope these tips help you save time in the kitchen! I am always looking for new ideas as well, so please list your suggestions in the comments!

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