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Cooking dinner is sometimes a nice, relaxing way to spend the evening, but almost no one enjoys it all the time. Luckily, there are ways to speed the process up. Check out this list for 10 ideas to hurry up and eat!
1. Be Your Own Sous Chef
Professional chefs don’t have to sit down and chop everything for recipes, and a bit of meal prep can make dinner as easy for you as it is for them. Of course, this does require you to sit down and spend a few hours chopping veggies, but once it’s done, you should be set for the next few meals.
If you really want to get fancy, you can even divide them up according to the meal you’re making, so you don’t even have to portion them out!
2. Speed up Garlic
The simplest way to speed up garlic is to buy the pre-minced kind. That alone will save ample time during dinner, especially since garlic is difficult to prep ahead of time. If you don’t care for that kind, you can also smash a clove with a knife, or put it in a glass jar and shake it to make peeling easy.
If the garlic isn’t too smashed, use a grater instead of chopping it up. That’s the only problem with smashing — it’s easy to get a little exuberant and have to chop the garlic instead!
3. Chop Herbs With a Pizza Cutter
Fresh herbs can make dinner delicious, but they can also be a bit time-consuming to prepare. Since most Americans will eat about 6,000 slices of pizza in their life, it’s safe to assume you have a pizza cutter.
Try having that single-use item do double-duty and roll through them. The time it’ll save is pretty impressive. Maybe not as much as finishing a whole pizza by yourself, but it’ll certainly save you the stomach ache!
4. Buy Pre-Cut Veggies
The hardest, most-time consuming part of preparing dinner is cutting the vegetables. So why bother with that when you can buy them pre-cut? It may not always be an option, especially depending on the specific cut you need, but when it’s available, make use of it!
5. Have Your Groceries Delivered
Shopping is a huge part of meal preparation, and it’s not always one we have time for. Plus, you know you forget things at the grocery store — everyone does! You can have almost anything delivered, which is especially useful if you need unusual ingredients.
And don’t be afraid to order cold products! Some of the most popular grocery deliveries include items like yogurt, milk and cheese, all of which should stay cold.
6. Make Use of the Microwave
You can cook practically anything in the microwave. Broccoli, potatoes, even microwavable personal cheesecakes! It’s also a great way to preheat water, so it doesn’t take as long to boil on the stovetop. Even if you don’t want to cook things the whole way through in the microwave, it can still be helpful.
Try popping harder vegetables, like carrots or potatoes, in for a few minutes before transferring them to a pan with softer veggies.
7. Eat More Salads
Salads are a great resource. They’re easy to make, they keep pretty well as long as they’re dry and you can use the ingredients for other dishes, so long as you don’t mind a few less tomatoes in your salad. If you’re making something quick like burgers for dinner, leftover salad can provide most of the toppings.
Likewise, it can be a great way to store leftover toppings!
8. Try a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker does require a bit of forethought, but it’s nice to come home and just have to dish out a meal, instead of cooking the whole thing. This works especially well for soups, stews and chili, but you can also use it to cook meat for the whole day, and then just pair it with the sides you want.
There are plenty of myths and rules about how to use a slow cooker, but you don’t have to follow all of them. Just keep in mind one simple rule: if you can cook it in the oven, you can probably cook it in the slow cooker!
9. Cut Your Meat Smaller
If you haven’t had the time or inclination to make dinner in advance, you can still reduce cooking times by using smaller cuts of meat. Chicken tenders cook faster than chicken breasts, after all. Try slicing your meat up when it’s still partially frozen. Your hands will be cold, but the meat is generally much easier to cut.
Then, you can just put it back in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
10. Freeze Oil and Herbs
If, when chopping fresh herbs, you find you’ve picked too much, there’s no reason to waste them. On the contrary — they can be used later to shorten your cooking times. Simply put them into an old ice cube tray, pour whatever cooking oil you use over them and pop them in the freezer. Then, next time you cook, you’ll have portioned flavored oil to use, instead of having to do the whole thing again.
After a few times doing this, you’ll have a whole collection and you’ll be able to choose which herbs you want, depending on what you’re cooking.
With a few hacks stored away and some planning, dinner can be on the table in half the time. Everyone needs that on occasion, and it makes cooking so much nicer!