Before I owned a business, one minute was one minute. Just 60 seconds. And I had a lot of minutes. I could use them where I wanted, and mostly I chose to use them at dinnertime—leisurely pulling a meal together, eating slowly, then cleaning up. Fast-forward to my new life and now my dinnertime routine looks like an episode of Iron Chef. I’m scrambling around, food is flying off the cutting board and I’m am usually sacrificing great taste for a bland, but quick meal.
I’m trying to bank some minutes—I’m now acutely aware of their value. So I’m going to use some time-saving shortcuts to get a healthy dinner on the table and get me a few extra minutes at the end of the day.
Time saved – 30 minutes
Your microwave isn’t just for reheating a your stale cup of coffee. It’s a tool for cooking, and it can be pretty efficient. For example, one of my favorite easy dinners is stuffed sweet potatoes. In my oven, potatoes take 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook, but in the microwave they take only about 4 minutes. Not everything is suitable for the microwave, but vegetables in particular lend themselves well to being nuked. So next time you need to pull together a vegetable side dish, or a stuffed potato, consider saving time by using your microwave instead of your stove or oven.
Shortcut 2. Buy Prepped Vegetables
Time saved – 15 minutes
Often on the periphery of the produce area at the grocery store you’ll find bags or boxes of vegetables that have already been washed, chopped, sliced or cooked. If you’re in a time crunch, use them. Look for bags of broccoli florets (you’ll save time chopping them from the whole head) or a shredded carrot-and-cabbage mix for a throw-together slaw. Opt for baby spinach over adult spinach. You can easily find it prewashed (time saver!) and you don’t have to remove any of those pesky tough stems.
Shortcut 3. Raid the Salad Bar
Time saved – 20 minutes
I hate to admit that I often let my salad greens wither in the fridge because I don’t want to go through the trouble of prepping other vegetables to go with them. But I recently got into the habit of raiding the salad bar at the local grocery store. I skip over the lettuce and just pile up the toppings–hard-boiled eggs, sliced mushrooms, cucumber and red pepper. I can buy just what I need for the next couple of days and skip all the cooking, slicing and chopping.
Shortcut 4. Use Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Time saved – 20 minutes
If you love soups this is a huge time saver. Morgan and I love lots of vegetables in our soup. And by “lots” I mean variety. Instead of being tied to my cutting board all night, I stock up on frozen vegetables that I can add to my creation quickly. The beauty of frozen vegetables is that they’re usually all chopped up and ready to go. Plus you can buy mixed bags of the stuff–broccoli and cauliflower, for example, or a stir-fry mix with peppers and onions–so you can get the variety you’re looking for without stuffing your freezer to the brim.
I hope you like these! Forward them to your busy friend who need some help saving time preparing dinner for their family!