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Who Has Time To Cook?

Updated on July 11, 2012

Eating out is expensive but when you both work full time have children to carpool to activities it’s difficult to find the time.

On your days off you can do a few time savers that will help make your work week run more smoothly.

Make a list of menus on sheets of paper to keep in a drawer in your kitchen.

The hardest part of preparing a meal is figuring out what to cook. When you have a few extra minutes write down as many main dish courses as you can think of.

On another sheet of paper list side dishes.

Some people like to plan entire menus but I get tired of always having broccoli with meatloaf and if you make two separate lists you can pick and choose what you want. If you tend to be messy like me you can put them in plastic page protectors to keep them clean.

Hamburger Meat

I noticed many of the meals I prepare consist of hamburger meat so to save time I buy a family size package of lean ground beef, cook and drain it.

In quart size freezer bags I put a meal size portion of cooled ground beef and put it in the freezer. (It doesn’t have to be exactly a pound you decide how much meat you want to add.) When I am ready to cook a recipe that calls for hamburger meat I just pull one of the bags out of the freezer, zap it in the microwave for one minute on each side (Two minutes total.) and add it to my entrée. (Microwaves vary so watch and see if you need two minutes. Yours might take more or less time.)

While we are on the subject of ground beef, it takes just as much energy and time to cook two meat loaves as it does to make one. Go ahead and make a second one. You can freeze this one and on a day you have less time heat it in the microwave. Then all you have to do is steam some vegetables and you have a meal.


Another meat item I use often is chicken. I buy canned chicken breasts making it easy to heat up a quick meal. If you want to save even more money you can cook whole chickens in advance, debone and put in freezer bags. The broth from boiling the chicken can be frozen for soups or casseroles later.


Boiling noodles seems to take forever. It takes the same amount of time no matter how many noodles I am cooking so sometimes I’ll make extra and freeze them. Just thaw them in the microwave to add to soups and sauces. The same can be done with rice.

Crock Pot

Crock-pots are wonderful but most of us don’t have time in the morning to prepare ingredients for a roast or stew but if you do it the night before and put it in the refrigerator, just pull it out the next morning and you have dinner cooking. Don't forget to plug it in.

I put a post it note on my bathroom mirror so I don’t forget. Nothing worse than getting to work and realizing dinner is still in the refrigerator.

Pressure Cookers

Another handy time saver that many young people haven’t tried is a pressure cooker. If you use a timer, follow the directions and are careful they are safe and can save a lot of cooking time and energy.

They now have electric ones.


I have a microwave steamer I use. On the weekend I cut up broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots and other produce so all I have to do is put them in the steamer add a little water and put in the microwave. This is a quick and healthy side dish for any meal. Sweet potatoes will turn gray so you might want to sprinkle a little lemon juice on them before storing.

When you make meals home cooked you can control the amount of salt and fat that goes into them making healthier meals for your family.


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    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Writer20, it helps save time during those days when we are too busy.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      I hate cooking but reading about freezing noddles which I never knew you could and everything elsewill make things here easier.

      Now I'll be following you too.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Jillian, making food ahead and putting it in the freezer is a big time saver.

    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

      Dear Pamela,

      Always interested in saving time and some money! We are definitely thinking alike here! Thanks for some great tips! I never knew you could freeze a meatloaf! Will certainly try that!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      If I know what I'm going to prepare that is half the problem solved.

    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 7 years ago

      "The hardest part of preparing a meal is figuring out what to cook." I know some people who can testify to that. Great hub!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Stews are even better the second time around.

    • thims profile image

      thims 8 years ago

      I don't think many people take into consideration or remember LEFTOVERS are better. Yes, I've agree, cook two meatloaves. Excellent cooking advice!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Anginwu, I love my rice cooker too. They are a wonderful invention. I hadn't thought about steaming fish in it. I steam vegetables in mine sometimes. I'll have to try the fish idea.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 8 years ago

      Great tips on how to make meal time a breeze. Cooking large quantities and then freezing them or rehashing them into new dishes is a great time saver. I like to cook a one-dish-everything when i'm in a hurry. I also employ my rice cooker--rice on the bottom and you can steam vegetables and fish on the top and have your meal ready in less than half an hour.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      That's a lot of people to cook for. And I thought I had it bad. lol

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You outlined some great tips here Pamela. I had to plan meals two weeks in advance for 105 people while working as the head cook at a small, rustic summer camp in New Hampshire. It was the toughest job I ever had, as we we had staff members and campers who were vegans and vegetarians. Perhaps you could share some of your recipes? I think it would be a good idea :D