Call Me the Ferris Bueller of the Kitchen

By August 22, 2012General


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How To Minimize Your Time In The Kitchen

My terrible mom confession: I don’t like to cook…at all.

I’m like the Ferris Bueller of the kitchen, I avoid it at all costs.

However, I also have this healthy, perfectionistic side of me that tries to avoid buying frozen meals and eating out too much – it’s a firestorm of crazy. But over time, I’ve come up with simple solutions that allow me to minimize my time in the kitchen and maximize the amount of healthy, quick meals in my house.

4 Simple Ways To Take A Day Off From Cooking

Since, I imagine I’m not the only mom out there who doesn’t like to cook, i thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips and tricks with you today.

1. Crock pot is your friend – Seriously, the slow cooker is like having your own personal chef. I love coming home after a busy day with the kids and smelling dinner cooking while I snuggle on the couch and watch cartoons with them. Doing nothing. It’s nice to have good help. Steady, reliable…just a tad slow.

2. The freezer is your friend – I’m a huge fan of making foods to freeze. I freeze everything from PB&J sandwiches to quesadillas. I make pepperoni pizza puffs and sausage and cheese biscuits. It makes it so easy to throw them in a lunch box or stick them in the toaster oven for a quick lunch or snack. It’s a great way to have fast food on hand that is healthy-ish.

3. Leftovers are your friend – We rarely eat all of our leftovers. We just get tired of eating the same thing for several meals. So, instead, I freeze all of our leftovers for meals later on. It’s a simple way to stock the freezer and avoid complaints about leftovers. It has the effect of Once a Month (always meals on hand) cooking without the big cooking/shopping day. I love that I can spontaneously decide not to cook dinner on any given night and still have a perfectly yummy home cooked meal on the table.

4. Double cooking is your friend – When I can, I try to cook or prep more than one meal at a time. If I am cooking ground meat for one meal, I go ahead and cook it for any other meal I have coming up. Same goes with chopping veggies or any other prep work I need to do. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I also might try to put in a simple slow cooker meal in the morning and then cook our regular dinner at night. After dinner, I just put the slow cooker meal in the freezer, along with any leftovers from our regular meal and we have several dinners ready and waiting for us.

Easy Homemade

My friend Mandi amazes me. She is possibly one of the most focused, productive people I know, and – like me – she’s not much for cooking, but she wants to offer homemade, healthy foods for her family. Well, she’s done all the hard work for the rest of us and wrote an ebook called Easy Homemade.

About the book:

Easy Homemade features recipes for more than 60 homemade kitchen staples as well as kitchen tips, information about choosing various ingredients and more.

As a self-proclaimed kitchen dunce, I’m far from an accomplished chef, but I’ve found that making things from scratch — even the things we typically buy without even considering that we could make them at home — is actually pretty easy.

Easy? Awesome. My eyes didn’t glaze over once like they usually do with cooking books and instructions. It was simple, clear and…doable. I’m excited about quite a few of the recipes…like making my own ranch dressing mix, partially because it’s healthier and partially because I ALWAYS seem to forget to buy it when I need it.

Click here to learn more about Mandi’s ebook. (Please note that is an affiliate link, which means, if you click it and by the ebook, a portion of the funds go to help me manage this site. So, thanks!)

Any Other Ferris Bueller’s Out There?

Tell me about your kitchen skills. Love the kitchen? Loathe it? Any secrets and tips to share? Click here to join the discussion.

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Comments

26 Comments

  • Avatar maddalena70 says:

    Kat… I am like you because I not only don’t like cooking but also I do not like to think what to cook every single night or breakfast….

    Your tips are very usefull …. thevone about freezing the leftovers… I am a little sorry because I do not know if in Italy it is possible to find the ”crock pot”’… I have read about it so often that I would like to have one because I understand that it would be very usuefull in the kitchen….

    Now I will read your link about the book ”easy homemade”’ … I think it can be of help-…

    Cheers

    Maddalena

    • Avatar Kat Lee says:

      Maddalena,
      They are also called slow cookers, if that helps. ….Although, I’m sure there is a completely different name in Italy. 🙂

  • Avatar Andrea Kennedy says:

    Pressure Cooking!
    We’re vegetarians and beans and grains are our staples. Using a pressure cooker makes every thing faster from making mashed potatoes or cooking greens in minutes to having perfectly cooked beans or bean soups in 45 minutes or less. I usually bake my grains in the oven and I always make enough to last a few days.
    Your tips are very useful and practical.

  • Avatar Nikki Metz says:

    Your description of how you feel about the kitchen is spot on for me, too. If there was a way to get out of cooking entirely (that didn’t cost tons of $$), I’d be ALL over it!
    I’m certainly going to try out your suggestions and will most likely grab the eBook for additional help, too. Thanks so much!

  • I LOVE cooking. But even I want a night off sometimes! When I’m making something like enchiladas or macaroni and cheese, I always just make a double batch, and freeze one. That way on our rushed evenings (like Tuesdays when we have to be at Bible study at 6:30), I can just set something out to thaw in the afternoon, and reheat it for a few minutes.

    P.S. My newest slow-cooker kick is making spaghetti in it. It’s awesome! I can cook up a whole box of spaghetti, a bunch of meatballs and the sauce at once in the slow cooker. It makes enough for dinner for us, plus 2 frozen dinners of leftovers!

    • Avatar PAM MCCULLOUGH says:

      OMGosh, how do you do that?! I would love to make spaghetti in the crock pot, like i said in my post I’m a novice w/the slow cooker but willing to learn almost anything at this point. Can you post how you do that or email me?

      • I put about 30 meatballs (frozen or homemade – just as long as they’re pre-cooked) in the bottom of the crockpot, and cover with my normal sauce ingredients: crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, garlic, diced onion, basil, etc. (you could just use jarred sauce too – somewhere around 6 cups worth).

        Cook for 3 hours on high. Then take a pound of spaghetti, break it into 2-3 inch segments, and put the spaghetti in the crockpot too, with 2-3 cups of water. Stir it as best you can (it’s hard to stir the crunchy pasta in). Put the lid back on, cook on high for 1 more hour. About 15 minutes before the end, I always stir again, and add a teeny bit more sauce if it seems like it needs it.

        Sorry it isn’t exact – I’m terrible at never writing recipes down, but that’s my basic method.

    • Avatar Danita says:

      I cook all the time! Not that I am thrilled about it…cause I’m not. Its just how the cookie crumbled (unintended, I promise). I do it out of love for my men and love for my single working mom budget. So, every day of the week has a theme and that is how I decide what to cook and when. ( My master meal plan list is organized by themes. I just point and click.) Monday is New Recipe Day, Tuesday is Quick x’s3 Day. Meals that take 10 minutes tops! Think sandwiches & things from a can over leftover rice…it works. Wednesday and Friday are Slow Cooker Day because of Bible Study and Gymnastics Practice. Thursday is Old Stand By Day which is just a chin hair above Quick x’s3 Day by being 15 minute meals where every dish is prepared using heat. Saturday is Catch as Catch Can Day and Sunday I cook a big meal to nibble on all week. All of this leads up to my question! Is this promise of spaghetti in a slow cooker include the pasta?? (insert crazy facial expression of disbelief and hope) Please school me Sensei!

  • Avatar PAM MCCULLOUGH says:

    Kat;

    I absolutely abhor cooking, I often become a confused and frustrated cook especially with my 8yr old picky eater. I have scrummaged around my bookshelf and found the bible of cooking. Quick Crock Pot recipes. (angels singing in the background) I’m still a novice but I too love the smell of cooking whatever when my daughter an I come in from our errands, church ..etc. Still need to plan ahead and double/triple cook for the week like my mom did. Still don’t know how she pulled that off, but if she can do it so can I #stompingoffw/supermomcapeintow.

  • Avatar Katie says:

    I don’t really like to cook either…but I love feeding people. I like things to be made from scratch as much as possible, too. I cannot wait for Fall/Winter cooking..it seems to be more my style..one pot or one casserole dish and I am there!!

  • Oh my how I love to cook. My sister–a very artsy-craftsy kind of girl–calls cooking my creative gift. I got really into freezer cooking when I was pregnant; however, we live overseas and have a super-tiny freezer! We also don’t have a slow cooker here. 🙁 I love to cook, but I miss my conveniences!

  • Avatar Hollie Garcia says:

    I love the site weelicious.com. This family-friendly chef has good, simple recipes my husband and I enjoy. Also, we use emeals. It is a program recommend by Dave Ramsey that helps families know what they are having for dinner with a grocery list to go along with it. We do the clean eating plan. I highly recommend both!

  • Avatar Janice says:

    Kat, I just love how honest and practical you are! I love to cook, but I get in slumps now and then. I just tried chicken and noodles in the crock pot last night. You cook the chicken first…I cooked a bunch so I had extra for other recipes. Shred the chicken then follow the recipe for adding the noodles. For my family of 5 it made a lot, so we have left overs. I found it at Food.com

  • I’m so with ya on that one. Your title got my attention and as I read on I knew I was in good company. My hubby and I laughed about this post and got renewed enthusiasm for using my crock pot friend. Though I need to pray someone gives me another one since the bowl has a huge crack throughout it that’s so far not leaked.

    Love this post! Thanks for your tips and reminding me that other good mom’s loathe cooking too.

    I subscribe in a reader so I don’t usually comment. So glad you enticed me over. 😉

  • Avatar Larri says:

    I like your friends. 🙂

    I don’t mind cooking, but I get tired of cooking the same old things. What I’ve found that works for us is to create a weekly menu. I ask the kids to pick 2 meals they want that week (3 kids x 2 meals = 6 days of ideas). The 7th day is EMFH – Every Man For Himself. Sometimes that’s on a busy night, or when I’m just too tired from a long day. They can choose whatever they want to eat – Cereal, Sandwiches, Ramen Noodles, etc. They love EMFH!

  • Avatar Jennifer G says:

    We don’t do a lot of “leftovers” here. My hubby doesn’t like to have the same thing 2 nights in a row. So I will sometimes make a LOT of a side (like mashed potatoes or rice) but not the main dish, so that I don’t have to cook a whole meal. I will freeze spaghetti sauce when I make it, or if I accidentally cook more spaghetti pasta than we will eat in one sitting I will throw the rest all together with the sauce and some cheese and freeze it together as a “spaghetti casserole” <<which is basically just spaghetti, sauce & shredded cheese layered in a baking dish. My SIL taught my MIL about it, who then taught me about it and my hubby LOVES it. Win, win. No leftovers and food he loves at the same time 🙂 I also try to make double meatloaves when I make one. Just cook one and freeze the other one before cooking it.

  • Avatar Amy says:

    My husband is the chef in the family, and likes it. Although 10 minutes after he gets home, we are off to soccer practice. That’s not going to work, so I’ve been experimenting with the crock pot. Today is my 4th slow cooker meal in 2 weeks. It’s not a high quality meal like he makes, but it gets the job done (all the bellies full!) We will see how it goes 🙂

  • Avatar Mab says:

    How funny some mom friends and I were discussing this yesterday. I love to cook and spend a lot more time in the kitchen than everyone else I know. I have a food allergy to work around so many conveience items just don’t work for us. I hate the crockpot- the texture of the food isnt to my liking but I have tried to like it this past year… I also rarely use my microwave. An easy meal for me is a roast or hamburgers with sweet potato fries and salad. Tacos is very popular and easy to make. My older kids can make quite a few dishes so I can get a break that way as well.

  • Avatar Trisha says:

    I plan ahead each week – brown hamburger, make 4 loaves of banana bread instead of 2, make black beans for 2-3 weeks, shred cheese, chop veggies, make granola, etc.

    I make most things by scratch, but whatever I make HAS to be SIMPLE and FAST, and take less than 15min or I don’t do it! 🙂

    For my fam we eat a light breakfast, main meal at lunch., and light supper.

    #keepitsimple

  • Avatar Diane says:

    I don’t love cooking dinner but I do like it. The hard part is feeling bored with the same old recipes. Recently, I found a menu planning site that gives me weekly menus of healthy dinners with itemized grocery lists for only $5 a month! Now, my family and I get to try some new things and I substitute old stand-bys for the recipes we wouldn’t enjoy. I’m wasting less food and we’re eating healthier.
    The nice thing is that the creators don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, either, so they’ve made the meals pretty quick and easy. Sometimes there’s some prep work for marinating meat–I just do it the night before. It’s taken some of the “ugh” from making dinner since most of my problem has been lack of planning. (website is hautemealz. com).

  • Avatar Judith says:

    I like to cook but then there are times I just don’t feel like it. These are wonderful ideas since once-a-month cooking is not for me!! I’ve tried it!!

  • Avatar robbi says:

    I actually love to cook. Now, cleaning the house & laundry . . . .not so much!!!

  • Avatar Rebecca says:

    I found out a couple of years back that although I don’t like to cook from recipes, I enjoy cooking “from the hip” a great deal. I initially learned techniques from Pamela Andersen’s book, “How to Cook Without a Book”. Now if I could just hire out the grocery shopping. . .

  • Avatar Ruth says:

    Thanks for your daily ministry, encouragement, and transparency! http://www.crockpot365.blogspot.com is a great addition to this discussion.

    All recipes (couple years worth) has Stephainie’s commentary including her two young daughters’ responses and many other helpful comments. My favorite so far is the Azorean beef stew and most receipes are gluten-free!

  • […] a confession. I don’t like to cook. Oh? You already knew that? Well, I do like this post because it has some good ideas for minimizing the time spent in the […]