Simple Timesaving Kitchen Strategies

We received tons of timesaving kitchen tips from readers — that’s you! — on how to maximize productivity and minimize time when it comes to home-cooked food.

| December 2011/January 2012


Ashley Bullock and Brian Sherman of New York City think eating healthy, home-cooked food is important. Both work long hospital shifts, though, so they plan in advance how they’ll split each week’s cooking responsibilities so that neither one spends more time than the other in the kitchen — usually.


There’s a reason lots of folks rely on prepackaged and takeout foods: It’s easy. If simply finding time to cook is one of the most common obstacles to making healthy meals at home, then sharing our best timesaving ideas with each other sounds like a great idea. For starters:

Timesaver #1: Batch-Process Produce. When you get home from the grocery store or farmers market, take a few minutes to rinse, spin, chop and properly store your fruits and veggies so they’ll be ready to use.

Timesaver #2: Soak Beans Overnight. This is a no-brainer. Beans can be used in so many different ways, so why not soak some tonight, just in case?

Timesaver #3: Make Double Batches. Next time you build a lasagna, roll up enchiladas or layer a vegetable gratin, make an extra pan and freeze it for a quick dinner in the near future.

Timesaver #4: Use a Slow Cooker to eliminate time spent standing over the stove. Added benefit: Using a slow cooker is a great way to make use of less-expensive ingredients that benefit from low-and-slow heat, such as tougher cuts of meat, and beans and rice.

Your Best Timesaving Kitchen Tips

• For recipes that she uses time and time again, Jeanette Romine of Libory, Neb., measures out the required spices and dry ingredients and stores them in labeled packets for later use.

5/13/2013 8:11:35 PM

On my day off, I boil a dozen eggs, make rice in the rice cooker, this always gets used in some way. I use a lot of beans so usually I soak a huge amount overnight, drain, and put in freezer bags and freeze without cooking. When ready for a meal, I take out the amount I want and cook them. The freezing does not detract from the taste/ texture at all and they keep a long time in the freezer. Arghhh! I know-plastic bags. Here's how I reuse some of them: If they just had bread or similar dry product in them, I store the used plastic bags right in the freezer by folding them in half and tucking them along the side of the freezer. Before getting a new one, I look to see if I have one in the freezer. I don't reuse if they had meat in them.

robert lacoe
3/12/2012 12:09:19 AM

Dust and dryer vent lint goes in the compost pile with finger and toe nail clippings. I shot numerous wild Mouflon sheep a year for dog food. I cook it cut it up, put in qt Baggies and freeze. When I feed it I take it out of the bag while still frozen, turn the bag inside out wash, and put in the garage to dry. I have no idea how many times some of these bags have been used. If Baggies are subjected to the heat and sun in a greenhouse they turn to dust.

alinda harrison
3/10/2012 1:08:55 PM

We keep a roll of masking tape and a marker on our refrigerator so we can quickly label and date all foods before putting them away. On our fridge door are two white boards: one with the week's menus and another nearby that we keep a running shopping list on. Empty grocery bags and produce bags are hung together on our front doorknob so that we can just grab the bags as we head out to the store.

alinda harrison
3/10/2012 12:04:31 PM

We reuse the containers that foods like like butter or whipped topping come in instead of plastic bags. It works so well that I only buy a small box of those plastic bags about once every couple years. The buckets that ice cream comes in also work well for storing larger meals or as canisters and "cookie jars".

elise johnston
3/9/2012 1:51:51 PM

Great tips, but not the plastic bags!!! Remember Mother Earth readers that there is a garbage dump several times the size of Alaska floating in the Pacific Ocean made of plastic. Google "great Pacific garbage dump" for pictures. Let's use our petroleum resources wisely. There are reusable containers (of glass or food-grade plastic) that can last for years and stack nicely in freezer and fridge and are dishwasher safe.

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