Try this kitchen productivity hack to save time. By spending 15 minutes on one day, you will make cooking dinner much quicker and easier for the next 3 nights.
A system or habit like this will make your life easier and help you succeed toward your goals.
My Problem: Afternoon decision fatigue and time challenged
A Solution: 3 day meal plan and preparation ready to go!
By 4pm in the afternoon I just want to chill out and relax. But tea…! I often save my sanity by using a pressure cooker but in the warmer weather I don’t use it as much. I prefer grilled meats and salad or vegges. But first things first – decision making.
All the choices can cause me to have decision fatigue. I ask the family to see what they want with the secret hope they will make the decision for me. No such luck. They don’t care – baked beans on toast will do them. I love them for not wanting me to slave away in the kitchen but I’m not doing baked beans all the time. So I look in the fridge at the plentiful food and can’t seem to make a decision. This hack means it’s already prepared and I only have 3 meals to choose from. Easy peasy!
I enjoy the shopping and choosing my produce. I also enjoy choosing our menu based upon our finances, our preferences, the weather and our likes at the time. I am fully in control. I get to choose the recipes that we love and that I know are healthy. I know the ingredients and I know there are no ‘hidden nasties’ or unnecessary ingredients in the spices sauces, etc.
This process still gives me flexibility and choice yet saves me time in the afternoon which is when I need time and energy the most.
Each year I compile two lists – Summer and Winter Faves. I list between 10 – 15 meals in each column. This saves me from racking my brain each time I create a menu plan. I simply look at my list and choose! Of course there is always room for adding new meals but this is my ‘starting point’.
- Using my summer/winter lists I choose 3 meals for us to eat for the next 3 nights. I write them down. And I print out the recipes.
- I go through the ingredients to see what is needed. This becomes the shopping list.
- I grab shopping bags and hit the shops!
- I return home. Now instead of putting everything in the fridge immediately, I group the produce and ingredients by recipe. Then I put each ingredient into a cooler bag or container, along with the recipe and pop it into the fridge!
- I do this for all 3 meals.
- I put other foods into the fridge – eggs, cream, butter, oils, etc.
When it is mealtime, I simply grab a bag from the fridge and get cooking! Everything I need is in the bag: the recipe, the protein, the fresh produce and other ingredients. The only ingredients I need to hunt for are the ones I usually use every day like eggs, milk, oil, mayonnaise, etc.
I have found this whole process to be quick and easy. I mixed up my own spice mixes ahead of time and portioned them out into jars which you can see in the photos. Hunting for seven or eight different spices and measuring it all out is quite time consuming so doing that when it is convenient for me saves me lots of time during the cooking process.
This process may not be for everyone and that’s fine! There is no one size that fits all. Rather it is about creating systems and habits that make your life easier, that makes it easier for you to succeed and reach your goals.