Get Dinner on the Table in a Flash

Are "healthy" and "quick" mutually exclusive when planning dinner? Not if you organize meals with simple shortcuts and advance planning.

Do you feel you're not organized enough to have a healthy dinner on the table every night? There's just not enough time? Think again. These simple shortcuts can save you mounds of time and help you get dinner on the table in a flash.

1. Use kitchen scissors
If you don't have kitchen scissors in your kitchen, you don't know what you're missing. In many cases, it's much easier to use scissors for meal preparation, than it is to use a knife. Cut open packages, easily trim fat off meat, snip fresh herbs. Snip, snip, snap--and you're done!

2. Cook instant rice
Tired of sticky rice that takes forever to boil, and even when it does, it often boils over the pot and makes a mess?
Instant rice is tasty, super-quick (usually cooks within 5 minutes), and it always comes out perfect.

3. Get bagged salad greens
It may seem a bit more expensive to buy bagged salad greens, than it is to buy lettuce, carrots and other salad veggies. Perhaps. But, it's certainly less 'time expensive' to buy the bagged, chopped, pre-washed variety.
Whole vegetables need to be chopped. Even if you use a food processor to chop, now you have to spend time cleaning the food processor. There are many great varieties of bagged salads that are nutritious, delicious and on the table in a jiffy.
I even buy bagged spinach, cabbage, broccoli and more. They can be tossed in a pot and sauteed or steamed easily in no time at all. Or, you can even quickly season and microwave them.

4. Speed up cooking potatoes
Bake potatoes in your microwave, until they're tender when you pierce them with a fork. You can then serve them just like that, or use them as you would with any recipe that calls for cooked potatoes.
Or, if you're boiling potatoes for potato salad, dice them small. They'll cook much faster.
By the way, you can even make mashed potatoes without taking the potato peels off. It's even healthier to eat mashed potatoes this way, and they taste great.

5. Consider an indoor grill
I bought a George Foreman indoor grill a while ago, and I think it's wonderful. First of all, it quickly eliminates the grease--the grill is slightly tilted, and the unhealthy fat drips into a drip pan.
Second of all, it can cook up dinner--grilled chicken, burgers, fish, veggies, etc.--in 10 minutes or less.
Third, clean-up is a breeze. (For those of you who have one, as soon as you're done grilling and the plug is removed, soak a paper towel, lay it on the grilling surface and put the top down. This will steam most of the food remnants off the grill, which will make clean-up even quicker!)

6. Prepare foods ahead of time
Whenever possible, prepare foods ahead of time and freeze, until you're ready to use them.
Cook up a large portion of homemade spaghetti sauce. When cool, divide up into 3-4 freezer containers, and freeze. On pasta night, just thaw and heat.
Pork chops and chicken can be breaded and frozen, up to 2 months in advance. Just bread cutlets, wrap in wax paper, and store in a freezer bag in your freezer. The night before you're ready to use them, thaw in your refrigerator before frying or baking them.
Also, be sure to read recipes carefully, as many will give you instructions for cooking foods up until a certain point in the recipe. At that point you can store what you prepared so far, and finish up the recipe at a later time when you're ready for the meal.

7. Make double batches
No matter what you're cooking, make twice as much. As soon as it's finished cooking, divide it in half and refrigerate or freeze the second half--if you don't do this immediately, there's a chance there won't be anything left at the end of dinner to store. Serve the first half tonight.
Later in the week, just heat up the second half. You may choose to have it tomorrow, later in the week, or within a few weeks. Or, perhaps you'll bring some of the leftovers to work for lunch for the next few days.
Whatever you choose, you're basically cutting down your cooking time in half--or more--by always cooking up enough for 2 or more meals.

by Maria Gracia - Get Organized Now!

Tags:  Meal Planning
Average: 3 (2 votes)

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