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Easy Meal Ideas for Mothers ... & Others

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Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Healthy Recipes

Timing is Everything

Yes, timing and careful planning is everything, as you'll see in this article that offers some great suggestions on how to keep your head above water in the kitchen, so to speak. A few simple tips go a long way to creating hot, delicious meals you'll family will love, and you'll be ready to sit down with them when it's done.


How to Get Your Meals Done On Time, Every Time

One of the most stressful parts of cooking meals is trying to get everything done at the same time so it’s still hot when you’re ready to eat. This is a challenge even professional chefs struggle with at times. If you’d rather not end up reheating things in the microwave, there are some things you can get in the habit of to get the results you’re looking for.

Counting back

It may take a little planning to pull this off, but it pays off in the end. Go through your menu and think about the time it will take to cook all the dishes you’re planning on making. This will give you a better understanding of what you’ll need to do to get everything on the table at the same time.

Better yet, write it down. Take out a sheet of paper and jot down how long it will take to fix each course in your meal. Then, break it down into portions. For example, it takes about ten minutes to brown meat for spaghetti and twenty minutes to boil water and cook the pasta. Now that you know this, you know that for dinner to be ready by 6:30, you’re going to put the water on the stove around 6:10 and start cooking the meat about 6:20. While both of these are cooking, you can put the pasta sauce on low heat and simmer it for the twenty minutes.

Keeping track

OK, you’ve figured out all the time you need to begin each step. With the pasta example above, keeping track of twenty minutes is about all you’re concerned with. However, if you’re preparing a large holiday meal, there’s a lot more to consider. You’ll likely have several different dishes, and things can get a little crazy if you’re not careful.

Chopping vegetables, putting things in the oven, you think you’re in a groove and suddenly you’re putting the milk in the cabinet and trying to stuff the cat in the freezer. No need to let this get out of hand now. The best way to keep track of times and tasks is to include a clock, a couple timers, and a bunch of post-it-notes in your list of ingredients.

Oh, the power of post-it notes in the kitchen. You can stick them anywhere and they make great recipe markers in case you need extra room on the counter. They help you put things in order order of need, so you have a visual timeline of how the cooking’s supposed to go. They also great for reminding you when to put things in and when to take them out.

Clocks and timers are self-explanatory – they allow you to forget about keeping track of time yourself. I use my watch in a pinch, then employ the oven timer and an egg timer for the rest of the food on the stove.

Planning like this might not cancel out all the stress involved with cooking for lots of people, but it sure helps to know you’re right on schedule. Don’t make your cooking experience more complicated than it has to be. Do the planning in advance to ensure some smooth sailing in the kitchen next time you’re preparing a meal.


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