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Let’s face it. Mommies don’t have time to waste. Finding the best, most efficient and easiest way to do things is really the only way to have some semblance of a life as a Mommy. These time saving cooking hacks are going to save you so much time and energy.
Oh ya, don’t forget the post-cooking clean-up. I wouldn’t leave you with a sink full of dirty dishes!
Cooking and post cooking clean up is a breeze for me now because of these tricks of the trade I learned from people who have learned better or just know better than me. And thank goodness for them!
I used to dread mid-afternoons when I had to start cooking. Sure, it was fine when I had no kids, even when I had 1 kid it wasn’t totally impossible.
But now that I have 2 young boys, I had to get my cooking and cleaning game in gear. Either that or lose practically 3 hours of my life everyday. Not happening.
Now it takes me on average 30 minutes to cook AND clean-up. And maybe less than 5 minutes to put away the dishes we used to eat after dinner. It can be this way for you too!
Time Saving Hacks- Cooking
You can save so much time while cooking. There are so many shortcuts that I learned by word of mouth, through the grapevine of Mommyhood and I am sharing them with you!
1. Cook Everything on High, High Heat
My Mother-in Law hates cooking. She says short-cuts are her secret weapon because she hates it so much.
My Mother-in-Law is the Queen of cooking fast! She can get a meal on the table in less than 15 minutes! Seriously. But not only does she cook EXTREMELY fast, her food always ends up so freakin’ delicious.
Luckily, she is kind enough to teach me her wise ways.
I’d say one of her best shortcuts is that she doesn’t use the low setting on her stove. EVER. Okay, every once in a while when something has to cook through all the way she will use medium, so rare though. But never in the 12 years that I have known her has she ever turned to knob to low.
This techniques works awesomely! But she warns: “You HAVE to watch it.”
You can turn your back on the food, sometimes, but only for a minute. You can even leave something like onions to cook for a few minutes on their own without having to stir for a bit. But LEGIT, you have to keep at least one eye on it.
Obviously there is a very high risk for scorching your food to a crisp. While practicing this technique, I had to learn this lesson the hard way. But once you get used to it, your cooking time will be cut practically in HALF!
Did you know you that it is possible to caramelize onions on high heat instead of low heat? It takes at least 30 minutes on low heat by the way. Ugh. . . Who has time for that?
It doesn’t matter if she is reducing Chile Relleno sauce, or making chicken curry, or cooking Mexican Red Rice, or sautéing beef stir-fry, or making potato and scrambled eggs or charring a tortilla. That sucker is always on full blast!
It’s absolutely glorious how much time you will save so on active cooking time!
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2. Use Two Pans at the Same Time
I was about to cook some fish one day and for some reason on this particular day I said to myself, should I use 1 or 2 pans? Don’t judge us, we eat a lot, okay! I thought about it, and a light bulb went off. Why on earth was I not ALWAYS using 2 pans?!
Before, I was always thinking to myself, it’s a hassle to have to hand wash and dry another pan, blah, blah, blah. I was WRONG!
I quickly did the math:
- It takes the fish around 6 minutes to cook
- It takes approximately 1 minute MAX for me to wash and dry a pan
- Using 1 pan takes 12 minutes to cook 2 batches of fish!
- 2 pans cuts the cooking time in half!
- Using 2 pans only adds 1 more minute to my washing time
2 pans takes 8 minutes, cooking and cleanup.
1 pan takes 13 minutes, cooking and cleanup.
13 – 8 = 5
5 whole minutes!!! Whenever you think you need to do anything in batches, DON’T!
Just dust off that weird, medium sized pot or pan your set came with to increase surface area for your food so you can cook in practically HALF the time.
Plus I like the crispy or slightly charred parts of food most of the time anyway, and this way there is more surface for more crispy parts.
3. Get and USE a Meat Thermometer
Like I said before, I do not have a natural skill for cooking. Before I started using a meat thermometer I just had to guess when my food was done.
And overdone is better than underdone. Right? You know for food safety and all. True, but so not right.
My food always came out tough and over cooked.
FINALLY, I got this meat thermometer on Amazon Prime Day, and it has saved so much time!
Whether I am cooking beef, chicken, or fish in the oven, stove, toaster oven, or air fryer, I use the heck out of that meat thermometer.
Most of the time, the meat is done the first time I check it. The first time! Normally I would have cooked the food longer just because I wasn’t sure if it was done yet.
Using a meat thermometer has shaved off an average of 5 minutes of UNNECESSARY cooking time from most of my meals. AND my food turns out so much better.
It takes all the guesswork out of cooking. I WISH I bought one sooner!
Don’t have Amazon Prime yet???
4. Don’t Waste Time Scrambling Eggs
We eat a lot of scrambled eggs. My kids love them. But it was always such a drag to make them.
One day I was over at my sister-in-law’s house and she was cooking scrambled eggs for everyone. She is one of those people that can cook up a gourmet feast with scraps leftover in the fridge and freezer.
I on the other hand, never learned how to cook when I was young and remember, I have no natural ability for it.
After years of watching Food Network and Cooking Channel non-stop (just because I couldn’t cook, doesn’t mean I am not obsessed with food), I learned the basics and became, in my opinion, a decent cook.
There are many ways to scramble an egg. Ask Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, or Giada DeLaurentis. They all do it differently.
But basically you crack them into a bowl, add a splash of milk (or water to make them less tough), salt and whisk. THEN dump them into the warm pan with melted butter and stir occasionally on medium low heat.
Everyone is INCORRECT! My sister-in-law is the culinary master!
The BEST way to scramble eggs is to melt the butter in the pan, crack the eggs directly INTO the pan, quickly salt them, and take a wooden spoon to it at a constant and steady rate on medium high heat.
They turn out PERFECT! And you have so much control over how wet or dry you like them.
Not only is this way so much yummier, it is so much faster! I can have scrambled eggs on the table from fridge to plate in less than 2 minutes, FLAT.
And guess what? That includes pan clean up time! Plus there is no bowl or whisk/fork to wash either.
5. Cut Food Into Smaller Pieces
This seems like an obvious one, all the cooking shows teach it, but it really does work.
Once I tried to make mashed potatoes. I peeled them, cut them just in half, and tried to boil those super large pieces.
Those suckers wouldn’t get soft to a fork stab for 30 minutes!
The next time I put into action what I learned from watching so much Food Network. I cut those potatoes into small diced pieces and voila, 5 minute potatoes!
Even when you are sauteing onions, make sure to slice them thinner rather than in big chunks, they will cook up in no time.
Time Saving Hacks- Clean Up
I can’t leave you with a kitchen FULL of dirty dishes! What is the point of cooking fast if you can’t clean up fast after the cooking is done?
So here are my tricks on how this lazy Mommy cleans up SUPER quick.
6. Heavy Duty Cooking Foil
I said “heavy duty” not regular. There is a huge difference!
My sister told me that she started using heavy duty foil after she saw a friend of hers do it. She said it made clean up after almost non-existent.
I was using regular foil, and I waited until my roll was completely finished before I indulged in the heavy duty kind.
I wish it had run out sooner. It would have saved me so much grief. I used regular foil thinking that I was going to save time when it actually took MORE time to line, peel off wash and dry because it didn’t do it’s job like it was supposed to.
The regular one just tears off when the spatula touches it and my pan ends up getting dirty anyway!
If you have to use a baking tray, line it with heavy duty cooking foil. It is so much faster peeling off the used foil and trashing it rather than having to wash your tray by hand.
If you have to cook fish, make a little heavy duty cooking foil pouch. No leaking!
If you have to cook frozen pizza (Mommy of 2 boys here), don’t even bother lining the tray! I just cut an extra long piece, fold it in half, and put the pizza right on top of it.
This way, it conveniently doubles as a storage wrap for when they don’t finish the pizza.
I bought mine at Costco, but you can get Heavy Duty Foil from Amazon (gotta love that Prime) to save you some hassle.
Don’t have Amazon Prime yet???
7. Use the Dang Dishwasher
I know this seems like a no brainer, but there are a ton of people who still don’t believe in the miracle of a dishwasher.
If you happen to be one of these people, I am here to change your mind!
For Faster Clean-up
But Jen, you have to rinse the dishes anyway, why not just hand wash them while you are at it?
NO! Rinsing is WAY faster than washing.
I know you have to rinse the dishes, but it is just a quick, less than 1 second rinse per item. If you have 20 items, it takes 20 seconds.
Let’s take a better look at this.
Caveat: I will say, it may technically take a lot longer, BUT your active dish-washing time will be dramatically decreased. Not only that, your dishes will actually be cleaner.
And another thing, when you use the dishwasher, your dishes come out dry! The dishwasher does all the work for you.
You don’t have to stare at technically half way done dishes, waiting for them to dry and be put away. And/or you don’t have to resort to actually hand drying them yourself.
I can’t tell you what is worse, washing dishes, of drying them. This way, you are technically not doing either of them!
For Cleaner Dishes
With my background in ER nursing, I am a stickler for germs. You really can’t imagine how easily germs can spread and how strong some of them are.
With the super high heat levels that the dishwasher provides, it does a WAY better job sanitizing than hand washing ever could.
I also have a super hero sense of smell (a nightmare when I was pregnant) and we cook some pungent smelling food sometimes. So if I can still smell last week’s curry or kimchi stew on my Tupperware, I am not a happy camper.
The dishwasher does a fabulous job of getting rid of practically any smell.
Let’s just say that even though my set in her ways Korean mother will never convert to washing dishes in the dishwasher, she is sending over (on a regular basis) the stinky Tupperware that she can’t get the smell out of.
So that I could use my dishwasher on them!
Yup. She may as well be completely converted.
But the main way cleaner dishes is a time saving hack is that you never have to re-wash not so clean dishes. Hand washing will sometimes result in having to wash and maybe even re-wash them again.
Don’t worry, your wonderful dishwasher will prevent this form happening.
8. Clean as You Cook
Cooking, despite what it seems, can have quite a bit of down time.
Take advantage of the a couple minutes you can utilize here, and a few minutes there, in between stirring occasionally, or waiting for the broiler to heat up or waiting for something to come to a boil.
As we went over in the dishwasher section, actively doing dishes does not take longer than a couple of minutes of time when you are actually using the dishwasher.
So rinse those utensils, bowls and plates, and put them in that wonderful machine that does all the work for you. It takes seconds to do this while you cook.
Everyone knows not to put your pots and pans, wooden utensils, and knives in the dishwasher, right? Good, just making sure.
These items DO need to be hand washed, but if you clean as you cook, since most of the dishes are already in the dishwasher, it is usually only a few items that can be done super quick.
9. Clean your pots and pans when they are still hot
When you are done with a pan, clean it up right away. This time saving hack takes maybe 30 seconds compared to soaking it for hours later coupled with hardcore scrubbing later.
The leftover food just slides right off the pan when it is still hot.
You can sometimes get away with just wiping it off with a couple of paper towels, if it is something like sauteed veggies. Especially if you need the pan again to cook something else for that same meal. Just wipe, don’t wash.
But most of the time I just take the hot pan and put it under running water (be careful, don’t let the steam get you), squirt some soap, take a brush to it, and put it back on the hot stove top so that it will dry quickly on it’s own.
30 seconds and done!
Really Put These Time Saving Hacks into Action
I really hope you incorporate these little tweeks to your homemaking regimen for cooking and post cooking clean-up. They will help cut down some of that precious time you so desperately need for yourself.
And if you seriously dislike cooking, like my Mother-in-Law, don’t worry! These tricks can cut your cooking and cleaning time in half!
These time saving hacks will help your Turning into Mommy transformation way easier!
Do you know any tips and tricks that help you shorten the time it takes to make food? How about any tips for fast clean up after cooking (we all know that is the worst part)?
I would LOVE to hear them! I am always looking for the best and efficient ways to do things. Email me or leave me a comment below!
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