De-Stress Your Dinner Routine June 3, 2016

by Tips & Tricks

Cooking can often be a polarizing activity. One day you might love the idea of throwing together a delicious dinner, and the next it feels like a stressful chore. Here are five quick tips and tricks from HelloFresh’s master chefs to make every meal spectacular!

Plan Ahead

Half of the stress that comes with cooking is figuring out what to make in the first place. Here’s a no-fail trick: Make the decision ahead of time! Create a schedule of meals for the week, and convenient times to prep and cook them (but we’ll get to that later).

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Mapping out weekly meals unlocks happiness in a number of other ways as well. Now, not only do you know what you’re going to be cooking (and looking forward to it!) but you can make the most of those trips to the grocer and always have what you need on hand.

Have what you need

There’s nothing worse than being in middle of preparing dinner when you realize you’re missing a key ingredient. Every kitchen master knows to keep certain spices, oils, and cooking staples in their pantry. But as you experiment with a variety of adventurous dishes (the ones all over your Pinterest board!) new, obscure ingredients can slip through the cracks.

The best way to combat this is two-fold. First, if you’re planning ahead, you’ll be more on top of buying everything you need for the upcoming week’s meals. Handy phone apps can help you access your recipes within an arm’s reach, and even send you reminders for what you need and when.

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However, there will inevitably be mishaps, or something that goes wrong every once in awhile. A great backup plan is to always have certain foods stocked in the freezer. Chicken can be a delicious substitute for many fish and beef dishes, different pastas can cover one another, and frozen veggies or whole grains can bail you out of an unforeseen dinner disaster!

Prep the Night Before

Meal prep can be one of the most frustrating and time-consuming parts of cooking. The chopping, dicing, and the waiting. Even preparing grains and starches can be a tall task, but it’s one you can defeat by splitting up the work.

If you’re home on say, a Tuesday evening, just finished up dinner, and know you’ve got a time-consuming recipe slated for the following day (because you plan ahead!), take a few extra minutes the night before to prep ingredients with lengthy cook times (rice, pasta, potatoes). This will save a significant amount of time and energy the following day!

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Just make sure to re-season your starches when you’re ready to serve them. You’ll have a meal just as delicious, that’s quick and easy to plate the day-of!

Block out time

Our overarching view is that you can save yourself hassles and headaches with planning and organization — knowing what’s on the menu, what you need, and saving time with early prep. However, it doesn’t all have to be so rigid. Make cooking fun by making it an event; block out time for your delicious dishes!

Schedule time on your calendar, as you would for a work appointment, date, or your daughter’s soccer game. By dedicating specific time to cooking, you’ll avoid feeling rushed or overwhelmed, and instead it will be your personal time for creating a wonderful meal. This will also help you maintain a healthy dinner schedule. Having dinner too late in the evening often leads to overeating and can take a toll on your digestive system. Blocking out time will create a consistent, healthy, and happy regimen for dining — and creating the fun dishes you’ve been seeing all over Facebook!

Share!

Another huge benefit of blocking out time: you can keep your family informed and get them involved. Share the joy of cooking! This is a happier experience for some more than others, but it’s one that always brings family and loved ones together (and can save time).

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Share more than just the act of cooking: Friends and family can be a great resource to discuss recipes and kitchen tricks and tips (besides the ones in this article!). Not to mention all the info, ideas, and inspiration you can find online. Sharing the delicious dishes, fun ideas, or not-so-fun headaches will help others enjoy cooking, and you’ll constantly discover new tips, recipes, and cooking experiences yourself!

UP NEXT: (VIDEO) 5 Ways to Simplify Dinnertime

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