On the days when my husband and I both work, dinners are always a challenge. I usually need to throw something together on the fly, while simultaneously feeding the toddler, entertaining the baby, and emptying the dishwasher from the night before. My goal: make something tasty and healthy, hopefully without creating a giant mess in the kitchen that I’ll just have to clean up afterwards.
Some handy tools that help me out in this endeavor:
A rice cooker. If you need to make rice EVER, you should get a rice cooker. Put in the rice, add water, push the button, and voila — perfect rice, every single time. It’s a total no-brainer, the rice can just do its thing while you’re preparing the rest of the meal. Plus, you can use it to steam vegetables.
A nonstick electric skillet. Our skillet is a bit of a pain to store because of its size, but it’s immensely useful for whipping up the perfect batch of scrambled eggs or pancakes. It cooks evenly, heats up in a flash (be wary of accidentally touching its sides, though — we nicknamed ours the “Cornballer” after the device on Arrested Development that’s always burning people), and nothing sticks to it, so it’s super easy to clean.
Slow cooker liners. Crockpots are convenient, but man, cleaning them is such a PAIN. I haven’t tried this Reynolds product yet, but what a great concept: you just put the 13″X21″ liner in your pot and cook as usual, then toss the liner.
A mini food processor. I received a Cuisinart Mini-Prepfor a wedding present seven years ago, and it’s been one of the more useful tools in my entire kitchen. It makes quick and easy work of chopping onions, garlic, or whatever else, without having to use a blender-sized contraption.
Paper plates. Okay, I know it’s not exactly environmentally friendly, but I use paper plates for most of my prep work — it’s just easier to skip the step of washing off a cutting board between each ingredient, especially if you’re working with raw meat. If it helps you be less disgusted with me, I do put the plates in the yard waste for recycling afterwards.
Fast, simple recipes. I’m including this as a last tip because I stumbled across the link recently and it’s such a neat article: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less, from the New York Times.
Do you have any make-dinner-fast tips and tricks you can’t live without?