I don’t know about you but I feel like half the time I’m at home I’m in the kitchen in a relentless cycle of dinners, breakfasts and cleaning. Chopping the veg, wiping the floor, peeling the carrots. Over and over and over. and over. endlessly.
Unless we get all our meals catered (and even then I’d still be wiping the floor) this cycle isn’t going to change soon. But I have a few strategies to make life easier.
Strategy 1: Invest in a couple pieces of smart gear.
Most readers probably already have the basic gear but I’m always interested in those things that save a few steps in the prep or cleaning stage. Here are my three must-haves that save me time either before or after mealtime.
Joseph Joseph Catcher, Citrus ReamerI love my Joseph Joseph Citrus Reamer. It catches ALL of the seeds which makes juicing lemons such a breeze. I could never go back to a regular citrus reamer. Never fish for seeds again.
When a recipe asks for 3 tbsp, instead of measuring each individually, easily measure in this mini measuring cup. Salad dressing and marinades are made in an instant with only one cup to clean.
You’d be surprised how often you just need this small roaster – asparagus, broccoli, two chicken breasts, nuts… It’s just so handy and the small size means it’s so much less cumbersome to clean up. It’s ah-ma-zing.
Strategy 2: Purchase some flavour boosters to turn blah to wow.
I don’t TRULY follow a recipe and I bet (hope) you don’t too. So many times the amount of spices and herbs a recipe asks for is way too little. Please people, taste as you go and don’t be afraid to add more spices and herbs. Personally, I am a huge fan of the Epicure line of spices and spice mixes. They are really creative and really make my meals taste so much better. I am pretty liberal with them and am not afraid to use them for all sorts of recipes.
It’s just those little things on hand that really help so much. You make a dish, you taste it, you think – oh this kind of sucks – and then you throw in a Marinara mix or Poutine flavouring and it tastes a million times better. It’s so easy and so simple to have on hand. Plus if you are panicking about what to make, they practically scream out at you with ideas.
Here are some of my favourites:
Marinara (Pump up a can of tomatoes, or add to pretty much anything (chicken pot pie, lasagna) for a boost)
Chicken Bouillon Base (I throw this in everything – chicken bouillon is my secret weapon. It makes ANYTHING taste better.)
Teriyaki (this makes the BEST stir fry or just use it to marinate meat or veg)
Pizza Seasoning (Friday night is our pizza night. It’s a no brainer easy meal everyone likes. Step it up with this seasoning or throw on anything else including potatoes)
Fajita (Meat? Tortillas? Some peppers or tomatoes? Dinner is DONE and so much nicer than from the yellow packets. Plus it can be used in quesadillas, a mexican-y casserole or chilli)
Good Greek Real Fast which includes Souvlaki (amazing chicken – this is one of Alex’s faves), Lemon Dilly Dip (you can use in place of dill which my supermarket never has in stock) and Greek Dressing Mix (a fab marinade or in greek salad)
Toasted Onion (I’ve all but quit chopping onion, I just hate the added step, so I use this instead)
Cheese, Chive & Bacon Dip (I used this in everything – mash potatoes, creamy pasta, macaroni and cheese… so good)
Gravy (just like the Chicken Bouillon Base this is my secret weapon for a flavour boost. Perfect in stews, or even on a roast)
Pizza Oven Fries (boost regular old potatoes – and it feels like such a treat)
Poutine Chip Seasoning (I throw this in everything just like the Cheese, Chive & Bacon Dip)
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Mix (this saved my pasta salads all summer)
Strategy 3: Prep Ahead
I love doing tasks in bulk and getting them out of the way. My freezer is my saviour and I like to prep ahead and freeze for future use. I also like to get as many veggies in my kids as possible. My strategy? Blitz and freeze veggies like carrots, onions, zucchini, celery and leek. Then, when I’m making my pasta sauce/chicken pot pie/stew I simply pop in a few frozen cubes of already-puréed veg and I’m ready to go. I always use my Perfect Petites for freezing. It’s definitely the easiest product I’ve found for getting the frozen food out.
Strategy 4: Plan Ahead
Think about what you want to make for the following week, write it down and shop for it. Here’s my tips for meal planning. There’s nothing I hate more than getting half way through a recipe and realizing I’m missing a key ingredient. Blech.
Strategy 5: Stick with old faves and try something new
Sunday mornings are pancake day around here. Friday night tends to be pizza. I look forward to these nights because they are a no brainer for me. I know everyone is going to like them and they are easy for me to make. But I always like to try something new and sometimes I get surprised. Plus making the same thing every week leaves me bored. My strategy? When I try something new I make sure there is at least something my kid likes to eat on the plate.
Epicure has kindly agreed to giveaway all products listed in this blog post which is a $150 value! The contest is now closed and the winner has been notified.