Sending the kids back to school (or for the first time) means a serious change in routine, and a busier lifestyle for everyone. When you’ve been running on full power all day, dinner’s the last thing you want to think about. Here are five tips from our food editor, Julie Van Rosendaal, on how to save time in the kitchen.
1. Make more than you need
It takes just as much work to roast two chickens as one, or to cook four cups of rice instead of two. Stick the chicken in the fridge for dinner another day, and refrigerate (or freeze) rice and other grains to turn into fried rice or salad later.
2. Buy bagged greens
A big salad is the ultimate fridge cleaner – start with bagged greens and add leftover roasted veggies, chicken or fish, bits of cheese, diced leftover frittata, cold noodles, a poached egg – use your imagination! Dinner can be done in well under 10 minutes.
3. Stock your freezer
Freeze soup, stew, chili, and other saucy dishes to quickly thaw and reheat on a time-strapped day. Either double a batch for intentional leftovers or spend an afternoon on the weekend doing some prep to get you through the week.
4. Be prepared
Keep a wellstocked pantry with dry pasta and grains, canned tomatoes, beans, and other ingredients you know what to do with — this way you won’t resort to takeout, or have to stop at the grocery store during rush hour to pick something up for dinner.
5. Cook more fish
A fresh fish filet takes about 10 minutes (per inch of thickness) to cook; simply set on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, brush with sauce or sprinkle with seasonings, and roast at 450°F until the edge flakes with a fork. Fish is real fast food!
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, August/September 2012.