I tried a new strategy the other night for getting dinner on the table in a reasonable time after an afternoon out at activities with the kids and it worked surprisingly well. So I thought I’d share in case it would work in your household.
I used 10 minutes to “half make dinner”.
We had a busy afternoon after school with pickups at two schools then clarinet lessons. We wouldn’t be back in the door until almost 5 o’clock. This is not unusual around here and I have been thinking about ways to get dinner sorted quickly once we walk in the door to avoid late afternoon meltdowns and later bed times.
I had a dinner plan – thanks to using Mrs K’s dinner planning tip – and was all set to make pizza.
Usually, I would try to leave the kitchen clean and tidy ready to come back and cook but then I thought about all the tools and ingredients I would need to create the pizza dough and how long that would take.
So in the last few minutes before I went to school, I pulled out everything that I could for the dinner preparation: the mixer, mixing bowl, dough hooks, spatula, chopping board, knife, measuring jug & cup, teaspoon, salt, sugar, flour, yeast sachets and tins of pineapple. I filled the jug ready to boil and found the baking trays and baking paper.
I left all of this on the kitchen bench ready for later on.
When we returned I was able to flick the switch on the jug to boil, turn on the oven to pre-heat and get started on the pizza dough. Having the equipment and ingredients already out probably saved me 5 or 10 minutes of pulling things out of cupboards and drawers – which at that time of night was great.
Make this tip work for you by thinking about what items you could pull out in advance for when you return home late.
Here’s some ideas:
- saucepans, baking dishes or trays
- knives and chopping boards
- measuring cups, spoons or scales
- dry ingredients in sealed packaging or containers, eg flour, spices, sugar, etc.
- sauces that are not refrigerated
- room temperature food items, like onions or potatoes
- small kitchen equipment, like your mixer or food processor
- other cooking tools, like graters, tongs, wooden spoons, whisks, spatulas, etc.
Important: Don’t ever pull out refrigerated food items that need to stay cool if you are going to be out for a few hours. You don’t want food spoiling on the counter and potentially making you or your family sick!