6 timesaving cooking hacks
When the school bells start ringing again, every family out there will be struggling to get back to routine and organise themselves as best they can. From registrations to time management to menu planning—back-to-school season comes with its fair share of tasks! In order to facilitate your daily routine and optimize your time in the kitchen, here are a few simple and handy tips to try.
1. Simplify your menu
Forget about three-course meals during the week, and instead opt for easy-to-make recipes. The secret? Prepare a large quantity of whatever it is you’re making, and freeze extra portions for suppers down the line.
Get inspired by our tasty ideas on how to make several meals out of a single recipe:
Get your ham in the oven or crockpot early in the day and let it slowly bake with your favourite aromatics. Then, enjoy a comforting dinner of sliced ham served with mashed potatoes and green veggies. Carve the rest of your ham and use it in a variety of other easy-to-make weeknight meals:
- Ham and arugula pizza on naan. A recipe the whole family will love and that’s as easy as 1-2-3 to make! On busy weeknights, opt for a store-bought tomato sauce and bagged shredded cheese. For a touch of exotic flavour, try this Hawaiian pizza recipe, featuring ham and pineapples.
- Ham and endive salad. Feel like something fresh? This hearty salad by Stefano Faita, served in taco bowls, is as original as it is delicious!
2. A little tech help
When it comes to preparing healthy and delicious homemade meals, time is of the essence. Apps, such as Meal Planner, are indispensable tools for helping you organize and maximize your time, both in the kitchen and at the grocery store. Thanks to IGA’s new Tada! app, you get access to loads of weekly recipes, as well as a complete list of the ingredients you need to make them! And don’t forget that you can order your groceries directly online. Another great advantage to the Tada! app? It helps you save money! In fact, all the featured recipes are made using items that are on special throughout the store.
And don’t wait until the last minute to use the Tada! app. Get into the habit of planning your weekly meals whenever you have a spare minute, such as when you’re on public transport, waiting in line at daycare, or picking your kids up from school.
3. Prioritize your tasks
Before deciding on a recipe, always look to see how long the prep and cooking time is. If such information is not listed, make sure to read through the entire recipe before starting; some steps might be very time consuming. Next, make a plan of action by determining which steps can be executed simultaneously. For example, while the meat and onions cook in the pan, start chopping your other vegetables. Handy tip: the smaller you chop your vegetables, the quicker they’ll cook!
Try getting into the habit of reading through your recipe the night before in order to see if any of the elements can be prepared in advance, such as cooking the rice, making the pie crust, or chopping the veggies.
Another strategy: preheat your oven as soon as you step into the kitchen, that way you can start cooking your dish as soon as it’s ready. Need to boil water? Get a pot on the stove right away. Small things can make a big difference!
4. Have everything you need on hand
Avoid having to constantly retrace your steps in the kitchen. Before starting on a recipe, gather everything you’re going to need: ingredients, seasoning, utensils, cutting boards (one for meat/fish and another for fruits/vegetables), bowls of various sizes, casseroles, and small appliances. Have a cloth ready in case of a mess, and try to clean up as you go. Finally, have the garbage and compost bin nearby, or use a small container and empty it when done.
5. Use your small appliances
Instead of letting them gather dust in the back of your cabinets, use your small appliances and save time while you’re at it:
- Use your food processor when making baked goods. For example, you can combine all the ingredients for your pie crust in just 5 minutes in a food processor.
- Use your food processor to chop any vegetables you want to add to your soup or spaghetti sauce recipe. Or make a quick pesto by pureeing nuts and herbs.
- Use your slow cooker to prepare chicken curry, bolognaise sauce, ratatouille, or chili.
- Use your immersion blender to thicken a sauce or whip up a dressing.
- Use your rice cooker to make the perfect rice or oatmeal.
6. Sharpen your knives
You could be surprised by how much sharpened knifes and scissors are an asset in the kitchen! Dull blades tend to crush your ingredients, rather than cut them. Look into the various tools and methods that can help your knives perform better, such as a sharpening gun, sharpening stone, or grinding machine. If you don’t feel confident sharpening your blades yourself, keep your eyes peeled for trucks passing through your neighbourhood offering such services.
Need a high-quality knife? Take advantage of our current vivo collection promotion to cash in your IGA stamps!
And there you have it—you’re now ready to handle back-to-school season like a pro!
A little extra help
To help save time, opt for a few ready-made ingredients: