Balancing work and family life is no easy feat. When you throw household chores into the mix, it can seem like there’s no time left over to relax. As a working parent, time is precious. Spending a little bit of time to organise your life at home can help shave valuable minutes off of your time preparing food or washing up. These minutes add up to leave you with hours of extra time to spend with the kids.
One of the areas where many parents spend more time than they would like is in the kitchen. Although preparing fresh, healthy meals is ideal, this can also be time-consuming. From time-saving appliances like water coolers and rice cookers to a new approach to clean-up; there are many ways to save time. With a bit of advance planning you can benefit from more time to spend enjoying the fruits of your labour with the children. The following are a few tips to reduce the time you spend in the kitchen:
Cook (and shop) In Bulk
If you’re making a family favourite like lasagne or beans and rice, cook a bit extra and freeze half of the leftovers for an easy weekday meal. When freezing cooked pasta or rice, drizzling a bit of olive oil over the top will keep it from sticking during the defrosting process. Buying kitchen staples in bulk will also save you on constant trips to the shop.
Buy the Right Appliances
If you don’t want to spend hours chopping vegetables or kneading bread dough, a food processor could be your new best friend. Cut the several minutes it takes to boil water by installing an instant hot water tap, and enjoy a fresh cuppa whenever the need arises. A crock pot allows you to slow-cook stews, soups, and other hearty dishes all day while you’re away at work. Appliances that can perform more than one function are ideal, or you will end up with cluttered cabinets filled with electronics you rarely use.
Clean as You Go
One of the worst parts of cooking is facing the monumental task of washing up after your meal. If you clean here and there as you go, you can minimise the time you spend on dishes. When you’ve cooked your meal, instead of letting the dish sit in the pan you can transfer it onto a serving platter or storage container immediately and then soak the pan for an easy clean-up free from dried or sticky bits.
Plan Meals in Advance
Along with shopping in bulk, it’s helpful to plan your meals for the week so that you know exactly what you’ll be preparing. If you have time over the weekend, you could do some prep work in advance, such as chopping vegetables or grating cheese. One-pot meals are ideal for the working week, because they involve less clean-up and are usually fairly simple to prepare. Anything that you can pop in the oven and forget about leaves you with more valuable family time!
Although these tips won’t completely eliminate your time spent in the kitchen, they could easily save you 15-20 minutes each evening. A good twenty minutes of relaxation is nothing to sneeze at, as it allows you time to unwind with your family with a healthy meal cooking away in the background.