Many of us strive to have it all. We want to thrive at work, satisfy our families, carve out enough gym time to have a killer body, and prepare healthy yet indulgent meals that leave us feeling as good as they taste. Here’s the thing: You can have it all, just not all at once! Originally quoted by Arianna Huffington, these inspiring words are all about choosing your proprieties at any given moment. Well, here are some tips to slash your kitchen time when spending hours to make a meal just isn’t your main priority!
Cheat A Little
I don’t know about you, but after a long and exhausting day of work, the last thing I want to do is cook an entire meal from scratch. If I don’t have anything pre-made then I mix, match, and cheat a little. Pair a store-bought rotisserie chicken with steamed quinoa (cooks quicker than rice), a store-marinated salmon fillet with sautéd veggies, or some gluten-free pasta with bottled sauce. When it comes to freshly baked breakfast goodies or desserts, check out my tips to jazz up boxed mixes so they taste homemade.
Don’t waste leftovers! You can either re-heat them and serve as is, or get flexible by using up leftover veggies, meats, and fish as the base for something completely different. Think: leftover tuna salad turned tuna burgers or grilled chicken transformed into delicious chicken lettuce cups. Check out more creative leftover ideas here!
Fix Your Flops
A couple of summers ago, I spent hours experimenting with a smoked brisket. For some reason, it wound up a flop and never softened fully (smoking is an art and it takes time to master). Instead of wasting the money spent and hours dedicated to the meal, I sliced the tough meat, whipped up a delicious marinade, and re-cooked the saucy meat to salvage it. Guess what?! My diners left raving. My motto: Sometimes flops can turn into your biggest successes. Some of my go-to dishes these days have come from a flop turned into a win. Rather than throwing things out or getting frustrated, get creative and learn to make something new.
Hit The Bar
When serving a large group of people in a pinch for time, simply throw together a salad bar, pasta bar, taco bar, poke bowl bar, or another make-it-yourself meal! Guests will love having the ability to control what ultimately winds up on their plate and your prep time is slashed!
Don’t Be Too Proud To Ask For Help
Who says mealtime can’t be a group effort? If you’re hosting a group of good friends for a small dinner gathering, why not make cooking your evening entertainment? People are more willing to help out than you may think. Plus, when kids or guests get involved in the cooking process, it’s an opportunity to educate them while having fun at the same time. Or, throw a potluck party and ask people to each bring a dish (just give them some direction so you don’t end up with several spaghetti and meatballs)!
Use Paper Plates and Utensils To Slash Cleanup Time
Sure, fine China with cloth napkins makes for an impressive presentation. But throwing a fun bash doesn’t have to mean the entire next day needs to be dedicated to clean up. Instead, pick up some themed paper plates, cups, and utensils. I like to buy reusables and rinse them — they’re easier to wash than heavy China and I hate wasting plastic.
Don’t Obsess Over Healthy 100% Of The Time
While we strive to serve a perfectly balanced meal, don’t stress getting it right every time. My motto? Aim to eat clean, natural foods 80% of the time and splurge on healthified indulgences the other 20%. Let go of the need to be so healthy that you compromise on flavor, presentation, or worse, your sanity.