4 sanity-saving cooking strategies

by Heather Flett on October 12, 2010

in Dinner on the table,How to

Laura from Plummelo sent me a few great tips for taking shortcuts in the kitchen to free up time and sanity. How could I refuse? As the woman who declared a weekly Crock Pot Night as an excuse to make dinner when I had time (during morning nap!), I love the short cuts. I hope they make you happy too.

Let me know (in the comments) if you want more details about setting up a cooking group or any of the other stealthy ninja prep tips.


We’re food people… Putting together meals, exploring recipes, figuring out how to use new ingredients is our idea of fun. Before kids, we didn’t think twice about spending a full weekend afternoon in the kitchen.

But now.

Between feeding, burping, diaper-changing, planning nap time, and just spending good old baby quality time, there’s little time left to whip up a decent meal. Now, rather than succumb to the temptation of slapping some pieces of bread together and calling it a meal, we’ve developed some tips we use that still let us show off our cooking chops:

1. Choose Recipes that Improve with Cooking Time: Once you hear crying, you know you’re going to have to step away from the kitchen. So, instead of choosing recipes that require precision timing, go for recipes that improve with more time on the stove or in the oven. We like stews, hearty soups, pasta sauces, and braised meats.

2. Prep Ahead: Many recipes call for lots of chopping, and then throwing everything into a pan. Rather than doing all of that chopping at the same time, take a spare 5-10 minutes when you can (while the kids eat lunch?) to prep just a few ingredients. Even if it takes a day or two to complete, you’ll now be able to actually cook the meal when you can.

3. Join a Cooking Group: Imagine making five meals in the time it would take you to make one (a cooking group allows you to do just that). By getting together a bunch of friends and a few basic recipes, you have an entire team of prep cooks ready to create and package freezer-friendly meals. And, because you can buy in bulk, your food costs go way down.

4. Get Organized: Forgetting to buy that one crucial recipe ingredient can derail any home cook.  So instead of grocery shopping on a whim, keep a running list of the items you need to pick up.  By planning in advance the meals you want to cook, and making sure to jot down the necessary ingredients, you drastically reduce the number of shopping trips you have to make in a week.

Plummelo.com is a website that allows users to automatically collect recipes from the top online recipe sites, upload recipes to a personal recipe box, and begin planning meals and developing shopping lists.  Plummelo’s free service makes it easy for busy cooks to get organized and simplify food shopping. The Plummelo team includes a rookie mom and a slightly-seasoned dad so they know what we go through.

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.

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