10 ways to get dinner on the table faster
5 Aug 2014 9:58 AM
Posted by hh's Chelsea Tromans
Do you feel like you’re constantly in the kitchen preparing meals? If you’d rather spend your time playing with your kids or relaxing on the couch then you’ll love these 10 tricks to help you get dinner on the table faster so you can put your feet up sooner.
1) Keep your kitchen organised
If your kitchen is neat and tidy, you’re guaranteed to be able to find what you’re looking for much quicker. There’ll be no more pulling out your entire collection of pots and pans every time you want to find your wok. Everything in your kitchen should have a place… and should always be in that place! Once you organise your kitchen exactly how you want it, make sure you give your family the tour – there’s no point you knowing where everything should go but the minute your kids help out by putting away the dishes (even if it’s a rare occasion!) you don’t want them messing up your system.
2) Ask for help
Yes, sometimes it’s easier to do things yourself but asking your kids to help out with setting the table, or stirring the pasta will not only save you time but you’ll also be able to ask them about their day at the same time. Plus, learning to cook is a great life skill to pass onto your kids.
3) Surround yourself with the best appliances
Does your old oven always cook your food unevenly? Or do you often have to double the cooking time because your oven’s temperature is starting to become unreliable? A good quality oven and stovetop will make cooking faster and easier. We love Westinghouse’s 90cm Built-In Oven because it heats up quickly and it’s twin fan system evenly warms your meals for a more reliable cooking time.
4) Don’t be afraid to take shortcuts
No one expects you to cook your meals from scratch every night of the week. Shortcuts are perfectly fine – that’s why pre-made pizza dough was invented! Try not to skimp on the real thing when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, but feel free to cut corners when a recipe involves pastry, sauces and even pre-grated cheese. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a job already done.
5) Freeze your produce
After you do your weekly shop, set aside some time to pre-cut your meat and vegetables for the week. Sort them into the necessary portion sizes then freeze them. You can also cook your meals ahead of time on a day when you have more free time and pop them in the freezer to defrost later in the week.
hh tip: in winter you can’t go past soup as the ultimate comfort food. Cook up a big pot over the weekend and freeze into single or family-size portions.
6) Cut down your cooking time
Pressure cookers generally cut down cooking times by half because they contain hot steam under the lid, creating a higher cooking temperature, which cooks food more quickly. And don’t forget about your microwave. A baked potato will only take about 15 minutes to cook in a microwave (but up to an hour in an oven).
hh tip: food processors are great for cutting down your prep time. They can slice, dice and puree in seconds.
7) Look for 30-minute meals
Everyone is time poor these days and, lucky for us, chefs around the world have heard our plea. You can find so many cookbooks these days with 30-minute (or even 15 minute – thank you Jamie Oliver!) meal ideas. Some of them may take you a little more than 30 minutes the first time you try it, but the more you make it the quicker you’ll be at getting all the preparation tasks done.
8) Limit the number of times you open your oven
Every time you open your oven you drop the inside temperature, thus extending the cooking time. Avoid opening the oven door as much as possible and always keep your oven door clean so you can peer inside to check on your food. The great thing about the Westinghouse 90cm Built-In Oven is the large window, which is big enough to ensure you can easily see inside and features a cool touch door for an all-round safer kitchen.
9) Keep a well-stocked pantry
Your kitchen should always be stocked with non-perishable essentials like pasta, rice and canned food. Learn a few basic pasta and stir-fry recipes that can be varied slightly using different vegetables and sauce combinations. With a few easy meals up your sleeve you’ll spend less time worrying about what to prepare and will be able to dish them up in no time once you master them.
10) Clean as you go
Washing your dishes as you go may add on a few minutes to your overall dinner cooking time, but it will save you from having to head back into the kitchen later on in the evening to tackle the task. Better yet, invest in a dishwasher!
What are your go-to quick dinner meals? Do you have any cooking shortcuts that help you get dinner on the table faster?