Six hacks to save time in the kitchen

Anyone who loves indulging in reality DIY shows will know that 'the kitchen is the heart of the home'. However, many of us find it hard to find time in the kitchen to prepare home-cooked meals. Between juggling all of life's commitments, it often seems easier to go for takeaway or home-delivery for dinner. 

But cooking doesn't need to take hours - with a few simple tips and tricks, you can cook up healthy and fast meals for your family. Here are a few simple hacks to help you save time in the kitchen.

Declutter the kitchen

Release your inner Marie Kondo and declutter the kitchen. Most of us have kitchen cabinets that are filled with pots, pans, utensils and other appliances that go unused. So, take everything out and decide what you need and what you'll never use. This is also a good time to throw out anything that's stained, broken or, as Marie Kondo says, doesn't "spark joy". Once you've cleared out the kitchen, ensure everything has a home. There are various products available to help organise everything, including canisters for things like flour, spice racks and hooks for utensils. This will save you time looking for the right pan, measuring jug, scissors and whatever else you need during cooking. 

Try guided cooking 

In case you haven't heard of it, guided cooking is a new trend that's been gaining momentum over the past couple of years. Appliance makers and tech companies alike are jumping on the bandwagon, helping home cooks save time with a step-by-step cooking experience. Some machines even do most of the work for you! The Thermomix has a guided cooking function that takes users through recipes with on-screen instructions and temperature and timings are set automatically by the machine. 

Invest in quality products

After you've decluttered your kitchen, invest in good quality products to help make your cooking more efficient. High-tech appliances are worth the investment if they'll be used. For example, if you like a coffee every morning, a coffee pod machine like a Nespresso might save you time, and money in the long run. If you like smoothies or juices, a proper blender is a worthwhile purchase. It's also a good idea to invest in great pots and pans that will replace a cupboard full of cheap ones - again, worth it in the future!

Plan your meals

It seems simple, but planning ahead is one of the best ways to save time in the kitchen. Having a meal plan for the week saves time (and stress) thinking of what to make every night. You can then get all your groceries at once and save time on emergency trips to the shop. It also means you can start prepping meals earlier. 

Shop smarter 

Making small changes when buying groceries is an easy way to save time in the kitchen. There are myriad products available to help you take shortcuts, but the key is to choose items that save time but without compromising on taste. Try buying pre-chopped veggies, packaged stock and curry pastes, so you don't have to start from scratch. Recipe bases are particularly good for weeknight meals and can easily be jazzed up with extra spices. You can buy crushed ginger, garlic and chilli to use in everyday dishes and reserve crushing the fresh ingredients for recipes that need a stronger flavour. 

Make the most of your leftovers

Repurposing leftovers to create new meals is a great way to save time since most of the food is already cooked. It also helps to reduce food waste, which is an issue for most households - New Zealanders throw away 157,389 tonnes of food a year. Have a few go-to leftover recipes up your sleeve and you can include them in your weekly meal plan. Cooksmarts has a handy infographic that you can get printed with ideas for repurposing leftovers. Aside from using leftover food for the next day, you can also repurpose things like leftover herbs and fruits to avoid waste - make some pesto, jams, smoothies or banana bread!