Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned home cook, cooking for the family can get a little fatiguing, especially when you are cooking 5 meals a week for the family, like I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending a Saturday out by the grill smoking meat, or in the kitchen cooking a slow batch of marinara sauce.

During the weekdays, however, finding shortcuts to getting dinner on the table efficiently keeps the experience enjoyable and prevents you from getting burnt out in the long run!

I think a lot of people have the “cooking at home is so hard” mentality; I don’t believe that to be true at all. It comes down to finding the best methods and finding ideas to help make you an efficient home cook.

I’ve put together 5 of my favorite tips that I use in my home that will help you shave time off your weeknight meals so you’re spending less time in the kitchen and more time with your family!

Using the Right Tools

Make sure you have the right tools in the kitchen to do the job. This means sharp knives that are meant to cut what you need to cut, tools that are made to make your preparation quicker.

For example, using a mandolin to slice your vegetables rather than hand cutting, or a food processor with a grating attachment to grate cheese quicker. Anything you can use to take a minute or two off your time in the kitchen, the better!

Batch Cook and Prep Your Ingredients

Sundays are usually the best day to do this in our house, if you’re trying to save some money for a family, you probably buy your ingredients in bulk.

Pre-cooking grains, and sometimes even your meat to reheat on a super lazy dinner night can help. I normally use this day to chop my onions, peppers, and any vegetables that are going to be thrown in dinner, then store them in containers in the fridge!

Plan for Left Over Nights

Cook a little extra on one night to make a new leftover meal for the next and make it fun by re-imagining the dish! For example, your leftover grilled chicken from the night before can easily be re-purposed as chicken tacos, or even a teriyaki chicken bowl!

Cook with Frozen Food, Just Don’t Only Use Frozen Food.

Look I get it, the kids are running around the house and everyone just got home from a long day, and sometimes all you want to do is just through some frozen nuggets in the oven and call it a dinner!

There’s nothing wrong with that, and you can easily take advantage of the time saved by putting some extra love and creativity into the meal by whipping up a fast and delicious side or even reimagining the frozen ingredients!

One of my favorite summer quick meals is using frozen breaded chicken breast chunks added to a nice salad and being out of the kitchen in 10 minutes flat!

Use Fast Cooking Ingredients

On the nights where time is a factor, look to the ingredients that cook fast. My go to protein on lazy nights is fish and shrimp, since they are ready in as little as 4 minutes.

Vegetables like broccoli, carrot and cauliflower also take no time at all to steam, and are super delicious with just a little butter salt and pepper! Even using off the shelf mixes and sauces and adding a little extra. Whatever it takes to get dinner out fast!

Take this recipe for example:

Spicy Sriracha Shrimp Stir Fry

Serves: 4 People

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup stir-fry sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp. sriracha (more if you like the heat)
  • ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 lb. stir fry vegetable mix

Directions:

1. Mix stir-fry sauce, sriracha, sesame oil and pepper in small bowl until evenly mixed; set aside.
2. Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat, add shrimp and 2 Tbsp. stir-fry mixture and cook 2 minutes. Add vegetables and remainder of sauce and cook 4-6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and shrimp is pink and cooked through.

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