As summer draws to a close and kids head back to school, many parents are getting back on the “Dinner-Homework-Bedtime” rollercoaster routine. Here are a few tips for cutting down on time spent in the kitchen to make way for more family time. Time to get hopping!
Tips for quick and savvy meals
- Prepare meals in a jiffy more often
Many nutritious meals can be prepared in no time at all, such as wok stir-fries, pasta, fish (Sole fillets baked in foil), homemade pizzas (Ham and two tomato pizza) and omelettes. Moreover, eggs are one of the best to-go ingredients for making quick and versatile meals. They’re the perfect solution for busy gourmets prepared as a veggie omelette with goat cheese, Emmental or smoked gouda. Don’t feel guilty about making pasta for dinner (again!). Simply add a vegetable-based sauce and some protein (e.g., lentils, crumbled tofu, shrimp) to whole-wheat or half whole-wheat half white pasta; you’ll have a nutritious meal you can enjoy guilt-free.
Quick tip: When cooking pasta for dinner, add whole eggs to the pot. Once your pasta is done, you’ll have hardboiled eggs to make delicious sandwiches for the next day’s lunches.
- Make your life easier with tasty side dishes
Vegetables are an integral part of a balanced dinner. Why not make them the star of the meal! Try combining them with winning and flavourful ingredients such as maple syrup or feta cheese.
- Eat fresh food. To cut down on preparation time, skip cooking altogether. Choose recipes such as cold soups (Cold cream of greens and avocado), sandwiches, salads and tartars more often. Keep in mind that children can start eating raw meat and fish around the age of 5.
Quick tip: To save time and boost nutritional value, don’t peel your vegetables when possible, especially those with thin skin such as carrots and cucumbers. Be sure to wash them thoroughly by brushing them under cold water. Then, enjoy them as they are, raw or cooked.
- Mix-’n-match cooking. Not a professional planner or cook? Try your hand at mix-’n-match cooking, which involves combining fresh ingredients with prepared or ready-to-eat store-bought foods. For example, improve on a store-bought tomato sauce and canned lentils with onions, garlic, fried bell peppers and mushrooms and Provence herbs. Ready in just 10 minutes, this tasty sauce pairs well with pasta, fish and poultry.
- Plan for the next day. When cutting vegetables for dinner, prepare extra portions to add to lunch boxes; cook one or two extra chicken breasts for tomorrow’s meal salad. While your dinner is in the oven, grate cheese and cook the macaroni for the next evening’s meal. Also, consider doubling your recipes and freezing the leftovers. These are all great strategies for a well-deserved break from cooking!