As you may have already heard, this month at The Spice People we’re launching a very exciting new project that we’ve had in the works for some time now – our new Meals-in-Minutes Bundle packs. In light of this exciting launch, I wanted to continue the easy-cooking theme this month with a few of my top meal-planning hacks to make your time spent in the kitchen an enjoyable and super-simple one. So without further adieu, here are my top kitchen hacks:
Always be prepared
No, this one is not just for the cub scouts, preparation is key when it comes to churning out delicious meals fast. I follow this rule a number of different ways; during my weekend shop, I’m always sure to stock up on as many staple veggies as possible (preferably ones that aren’t likely to perish soon and can last in the fridge), then, as soon as I’m home from the supermarket, I set aside a half-hour to chop up all of said veg and place into containers and straight in the fridge ready to be thrown in the pan or oven whenever I need throughout the week. My staple repertoire will usually include zucchinis, onion, carrots, potatoes (sweet and white), capsicum, broccoli, pumpkin, and cauliflower. Whilst spending your Sunday afternoon chopping up veg may not seem like the most thrilling of tasks, I can assure you it will save you a load of time and stress throughout the week and make you feel super prepared to tackle the week ahead – plus, with a good CD or show on in the background, it can even be a fairly cathartic and enjoyable pastime!
*If you’re extremely time-poor and can’t find any time to spare for prepping, supermarkets like Woolies stock a load of pre-cut veggies in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle now which can be super handy. Some may call it lazy, I just call it smart cooking.
Ever heard the phrase ‘if you have an egg in the fridge, you have dinner’? Well, I’m going to take that phrase a few steps further and say if you ever have these key items in your pantry then you have yourself some delicious meals or at least a very workable foundation to build on! My top pantry staples that my kitchen is never without are:
- Olive oil (a must!)
- Balsamic vinegar (adds a bit of acidity to anything when fresh lemons etc aren’t available)
- Soy sauce (my little secret to adding an instant umami flavor)
- Tinned tomatoes
- Tinned beans (lentils or chickpeas work too)
- Spices – key staple ones as well as some handy blends
- Stock cubes (liquid concentrate works too – instant flavor enhancer)
- Tinned coconut milk
These obviously aren’t complete, nutritious meals in themselves but I’ve found them to be absolute lifesavers when I’m without inspiration/a plan on what to cook. With these key items plus a few fresh ingredients, you’ll never be without a delicious dinner. Plus, they’re a lot less perishable (and exciting) than a little old egg.
Your freezer can be your best friend
After many years of working long hours and having many a mouth to feed, I’ve come to acquaint myself quite closely with my trusty freezer. I always know that whenever I’m working late, know I’ll be out, or simply just don’t have the energy to rustle anything new up, there are a few handy meals waiting to be zapped in the microwave in my freezer. To ensure I always have a few fall-back meals, I do three things:
- Whenever making a curry, slow-cook, soup, or anything else that freezes well, I’m sure to make double and sometimes even triple the amount to pop into the freezer for a later date.
- When I know I’ll be heading to the fresh food market to snap up some cheap produce, I stock up and set aside some time during my weekend to do a big cook up of freeze-able meals – again, this will usually include curries, soups, stews, risottos, etc.
3. When walking the aisles of my supermarket, I’m sure to keep my eyes peeled for any great specials on meat and fish – if there’s a great one, I snap up a few for popping in the freezer to have on-hand when a trip to the shops isn’t possible.
I hope some of my handy tips could be of use to you and can save you a little extra time and stress in the kitchen. I certainly know these little pearls of wisdom have helped me out in many a time of need and my future self always thanks to my past self for taking the extra time to be prepared. One last very important tip I will leave you with – stock up on plenty of Tupperware, you’re going to need it!
Want to know more about our Meals-in-Minutes Bundle Packs?
Our range features a bundle ‘For Two’ and ‘For Families’, depending on what suits your lifestyle and family, and are designed to help you get inspired and enjoy your time in the kitchen. Each bundle contains all the spices you’ll need for the fortnight, along with a correlating recipe for each night and a budget-friendly shopping list of under $5 per person a night. Each recipe has an easy-to-follow guide with never more than 6 simple steps and never more than a 15-minute prep time. At the base of each recipe are protein-alternative and dairy-alternative suggestions, as well as a veg option, included to suit a range of diets and tastes.
Click the products below to learn more about them and purchase!