10 Kitchen Shortcuts for Busy Families
Let’s face it. If you have kids in the house, it’s pretty much guaranteed that juggling the packed daily calendar is a challenge. Sports, music lessons, homework, parties, social activities, keeping everyone in clean clothes, packing lunches and planning delicious dinners (and healthy, if it’s a good day). Factor in your own career and commitments, and it’s a pretty safe bet you’re stretching every day to its limits.
Today’s parents are hands-down the busiest people on the planet. We can’t make a day more than 24 hours, but we can help make you more efficient with ideas and tips for streamlining the time you spend in the kitchen. And you’re off!
1. STOCK UP FOR SUCCESS
Never go to the grocery store hungry or without a list. Follow those two cardinal rules and you’ll spend far less time wandering the aisles waiting for a meal idea to magically appear. You’ll also reduce trips from daily to once or twice weekly (think of the time saved!) with these tips:
- Meal plan for the next 5 days
- Make your list and check it twice before leaving for the store
- Check your store’s website or apps for specials
- Have a bite to eat and go!
2. BE A FAN OF THE SALAD BAR
Why do the prep work if it’s already done for you? Take advantage of the cleaned and cut fruit and veggies at your grocery store’s salad bar. Buy what you need for the week and store each variety in SNAPWARE® TOTAL SOLUTION™ PYREX® GLASS FOOD STORAGE 1 CUP ROUND. When you’re ready, toss them into anything from pastas to one-dish meals and, yes, salads!
3. A TOAST TO ROTISSERIE
Sure, you could roast a whole bird yourself—in fact, it’s not as hard as you may think. But rotisserie chicken is common at many grocery stores and is meal ready. Here are a few time-saving rotisserie chicken ideas:
- Bring one or two home and shred the chicken for several recipes during the week.
- Toss it into a salad, make a quick quesadilla or stir it into soup.
- Refrigerate what you don’t use for a day or two, or freeze the leftovers if you want to keep it longer.
4. CHOP DOWN PREP TIME
A little work on the weekend goes a long way during the week. On Saturday or Sunday afternoons (when you have little downtime), grab your favorite chef’s knife, turn on some tunes and chop up all the produce you need for the week’s recipes.
- Store chopped and sliced onions, carrots, celery and bell peppers in tightly sealed containers, like the SNAPWARE® TOTAL SOLUTION™ PYREX® GLASS FOOD STORAGE VALUE 6-PC SQUARE SET.
- Wash, dry and store chopped greens for salads in seconds.
- Prep larger fruits like melons or pineapple for salads, kebabs or snacking.
5. MARINATE TO ELEVATE
Nothing adds major flavor to meats more than a nice, long bath in a good marinade. They take minutes to make and options are plentiful. (Or buy ready-made for variety and even more time saved.)
- Glass containers with secure lids, such as the SNAPWARE® TOTAL SOLUTION™ PYREX® GLASS FOOD STORAGE 4 CUP SQUARE. are the best vessels for marinade missions.
- Simply place meat in dish, poke holes into the meat with a fork so the marinade can penetrate and let chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or up to overnight for more flavor.
- Throw your tasty, tenderized meat on the grill or roast in the oven. It’ll taste like you’ve been in the kitchen all day.
6. GRAB AND GO EASY
Kids love to snack, so help them fend for themselves by prepping snacks that are ready to go when they are. Carrot and celery sticks, cheese cubes, sliced melon, mini muffins, healthy snack mixes, hummus and tortilla roll-ups are all good-to-go snacks that can be made ahead of time. If the kiddos are young, store on a low shelf in the fridge or pantry using a variety of sizes of the stackable SNAPWARE® TOTAL SOLUTION™ PYREX® PLASTIC FOOD STORAGE 18-PC SET. That way they’re in easy reach.
7. DOUBLE-DUTY COOKING
Sort of like planning for leftovers. Same cook-once, eat-twice bonus!
- Grilling chicken or shrimp? Throw on some extra and use another day in fajitas or tacos.
- Browning ground beef? Double—or even triple—the amount you need (you can always freeze the extra) and use it in spaghetti sauce, or for tacos, meat pies and casseroles.
- Boiling pasta? Refrigerate extras until breakfast, then simply add a few beaten eggs, milk and some chopped veggies. Cook in a deep skillet until set…voilà! A pasta frittata. TIP: Store a second meal in SNAPWARE® TOTAL SOLUTION™ PYREX® GLASS FOOD STORAGE 4 CUP, ROUND. The glass vessel is microwave and oven safe. NOTE: If you freeze it, always thaw before reheating.
8. EMBRACE FAST FOOD
No, we’re not talking about the drive-thru (though we understand the occasional need…we’ve been there). Amass a collection of easy-on-you dishes that come together in minutes, like stir-fries, quesadillas, egg scrambles and main-dish salads.
9. LOW & SLOW, YEAR-ROUND
It’s a wonderful winter helper, but you can also use your slow cooker to cook up a ton of warm-weather eats. And it is an awesome time-saver.
- Make a big batch of BBQ chicken for pulled sandwiches and southwestern burritos.
- Slow-cook a pork shoulder for carnitas or sliders.
- Make dips like spinach artichoke or Buffalo chicken ahead of time, refrigerate until your guests arrive, then simply reheat when guests arrive.
10. EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
Storage containers are a given for a well-organized kitchen, but what about the rest of your house? Whether cleanup is done by your crew or you, make it easier to pack and transport toys, crafts, laundry and other items with handy SNAPWARE® SNAP 'N STACK® or SNAPWARE® SMART STORE® storage containers
Incorporate any or all of these ideas into your weekly routine, and you’ll certainly rack up surplus minutes. We’d give you suggestions for what to do with all your extra time, but we’re guessing you’re already busy.
YOUR TURN: Share some of your top-notch time-savers that make life just a little less hectic.