We’ve all made excuses for why we don’t cook at home more, especially on busy weeknights. Do these phrases sound familiar? (Note: don’t feel guilty for saying/thinking these things…because it happens to everyone!)
- I’m too tired
- I don’t know what to cook
- It will take too long
- Take out is faster
Here’s something to think about though…is takeout really faster and easier? According to the Bureau of Labor, the average household spends almost $200 per month on restaurant and takeout food. Considering it takes about 30 minutes to wait for your food to be delivered or to run and get something yourself, you’re not really saving anything other than the effort it takes to make food. Plus, how many times have you picked up food/had it delivered, only to discover your order was wrong? So frustrating! We must also consider the time spent is the same and the money spent… well… we won’t talk about that. (However, we do like to support our local restaurants – everyone needs a break from cooking every now and then!)
We understand the lack of desire to cook every meal at home. We do the exact same things. Cooking at home night after night is hard, particularly when you have lots of activities going on and picky eaters at the table!
This is where we’re here to help! We have three specific cooking hacks to help you save on time and effort it takes to cook at home – which means you’re protecting your pocketbook and giving yourself a little more confidence in the kitchen.
Hack #1 – “Mise en place”
Don’t worry. We’re not getting fancy on you. But this hack will cut the stress in the kitchen by at least half. (Trust us. We’ve done studies.). “Mise en place” (meeze-on-place) is a French term that basically means “everything in its place.” Now, if you research this on your own, you will learn it is way more thorough and meticulous than what we’re going to talk about. But for our easy weeknight meals, the most important part is everything in its place.
Set out everything you need BEFORE you start cooking. That Dash™ spice blend in the cupboard? Set it in your workspace. Those measuring spoons you’re going to need? Get them out, too. When everything is at your fingertips, you’re not wasting precious time looking for things and walking throughout your entire kitchen to find the one thing you need. When you’ve set everything out, you can go through the steps of the recipe quickly…getting dinner on the table faster than ever before!
(Side note – it also helps to thoroughly read your recipe ahead of time…maybe even the day before you plan on making it. This will give you an idea of how much time to allot and when to begin cooking. No one wants to start the cooking process at 7 pm only to realize that the food has to bake/simmer for an hour!)
Hack #2 – Use an electric kettle
We’ve all been there: we filled the pot with water, set it on the stove to boil, started cooking other items of the meal, checked the pot of water, annnnnnnnnd…nothing was happening. Now, the other food is ready and getting cold while you’re still waiting for the water to boil.
No one has time for that, especially on a busy weeknight. Instead, get yourself an electric kettle that is guaranteed to heat your water to boiling in five to ten minutes! It’s not often we suggest going out and buying something (other than our amazing spices, of course), but this time it’s worth it.
Fill your kettle with water, finish getting the rest of your ingredients set out, and your water will be ready to go! Simply pour the hot water into a pot on the stove and viola: your food is ready to start cooking.
Hack #3 – Find a plethora of easy weeknight recipes
Google the term “easy weeknight meal” and you will get a plethora of websites with lists upon lists of weeknight meals. But here’s the problem: Most of those lists are lists of links. You click on the website that advertised “100 recipes in 30 minutes or less!” and it brings you to a blog of some mom in Kansas (who we’re sure is VERY nice) who simply put together a list of other people’s recipes. Half the links don’t work, and the other half will actually take closer to an hour. You, on the other hand, have wasted 10 minutes of your precious 30-minute dinner prep and your family is that much hungrier.
Here’s something better: Find a website that consistently publishes tried and true recipes you can go back to again and again. When you know you have a recipe bank in your back pocket, you don’t have to worry so much about “What am I cooking for dinner tonight?” You have a friend like The Real Kitchen in your corner!
We LOVE our 30-minute recipes because we’re just like you: busy people with busy families who want to cook good food.
Try them out! We’ve linked some here to get you started, but feel free to explore on your own as well. Our recipes are always 30 minutes and use only normal ingredients. You’re not going to find random ingredients you’ll use for one recipe and then have to wonder how you’re going to deal with the rest of the container.
(Another side note: Pinterest is a great place to save all of those online recipes you find. Create a board for your favorite 30-minute meals, and you’ll be able to quickly locate all of the recipes you want to try. Also, don’t forget to check out our Pinterest page!)
Comment your biggest struggle with weeknight cooking and tell us what recipe you’re interested in trying. Have you tried any of our 30-minute recipes? Tell us your thoughts!