This post is sponsored by Burnaid® Gel
Witching hour can be horrific in any home, with toddlers screaming or throwing tantrums for your attention, it’s usually all happening whilst it’s time to cook dinner. Actually, I am finding myself ‘witch like’ lately, come dinner time I’m tired too. There are ways to simplify dinner prep before witching hour, to make this hour (or two) of madness a little less hectic, because we know when we are a little stressed in the kitchen this is when accidents can happen, burning or cutting yourself.
Ways to simplify dinner prep before witching hour
I hope these tips below help you, these can be adapted for all family types really, not just those with tired kiddies. For those that work full-time hours or have busy afternoons at sports training through the week, or if you’re like me and just tired at the end of the day, adapt these to suit you.
Think about dinner early
Just after you finish pottering in the kitchen in the evening think about tomorrow nights dinner. Do you need to defrost some meat? Do you have all the ingredients? How long will the meal take to cook? Thinking about it the night before will give you the time to defrost meats and make a plan for the meal. ie. if it takes 1 hour to cook you know what time you need to start dinner.
Shop with a plan
Create a meal plan and write your grocery list based on the meals you are wanting to cook that week. Going to the grocery store and purchasing all the ingredients you need for dinner will save you time not having to travel back to the grocery store each day and that you have everything you need on hand.
Make quick dinners
One of my favourite dinners is sausages, mashed potato and vegetables and when I really don’t feel like cooking we have eggs on toast so easy! Your meals don’t need to be gourmet, sometimes the simplest meals are the best.
Be kind to yourself
Whilst it’s fantastic to make meals from scratch ie. spaghetti bolognese, you may not have the desire nor the time to do so. It’s perfectly OK to use shortcuts, such as a bottle of premade pasta sauce, I like the Dolmio Tomato, Onion and Roast Garlic) or Maggi recipe bases.
Keep your fridge clean and tidy
Regularly clean your fridge. I do this just before I do my weekly grocery shop, it helps me to work out what items I am running out of and need to add to the grocery list, then I can make room for the new groceries. Having your fridge tidy will help you easily locate items during the busy dinner time rush.
Precut your vegetables
I precut all my fruit and vegetables after I get home from the grocery store. I do this for a number of reasons:
- it’s convenient for when we are looking for a snack. If some vegetables and fruit are already chopped up, I can easily have a bowl of diced watermelon or vegetable sticks, instead of reaching for something less healthy.
- saves time when I am rushing to cook dinner, I can grab handfuls of vegetables and cook them within minutes, no having to get out the chopping board and chop up the vegetables, making more mess.
- i find it also stops the food from spoiling, it stays fresher longer
Keep stock of your essentials
What are your favourite quick and easy meals to cook? Write a list of the ingredients for these meals and ensure to keep your pantry stocked with these items for those days where you don’t have time to go to the grocery store.
I keep the following in the pantry:
- spiral pasta, tuna for tuna mornay – the rest of the ingredients I always have on hand as normal weekly essentials, frozen corn, onion, flour, milk etc.
- scone mix for crustless quiche – I always keep bacon in the freezer and have regular stock of cream, eggs, butter and cheese along with a spare onions.
Prevent burns and be prepared
I shared a post last year on how to prevent kitchen burns, from the list that many people didn’t realise was that you shouldn’t use a damp towel to hold a hot pot as the heat of the pot will quickly come through the towel.
During witching hour it is hard to stay focused and this is when burns can happen in the kitchen. To treat a minor burn place the area under cold running water for 20 minutes then apply Burnaid® to keep the burn cool and help ease the pain, then you can continue the rest of your dinner prep. Always remember if your burn is more serious, call 000 or seek medical attention.
Make a double batch
Make a double batch of dinner, ie. if your making mince potato pie, double the recipe and you can use the left over mince in a pasta bake or lasagna the following night or freeze the left overs to use next week. I recently made meatballs with salad for the family, I doubled the batch and had meatballs on a long roll the following night.
Get the family to help
If they are too little to be helping in the kitchen with chopping vegetables get them to set the table for you. You will be surprised that to the littlies this is not a chore and they really enjoy helping and being a part of what you are doing. Now my children are older they really enjoy spending time with me in the kitchen and often ask if they can make dinner themselves… yes please!!!
And remember… your days are just as busy as your partners so get them to help as well, don’t feel you need to take on all the responsibility yourself.
Think about the dishes you are using
I’m a very messy cook, but I do try to make sure that I use dishes that can be put in the dishwasher, one less dish to wash up! Or better still try one post dishes where you make everything in the one casserole dish or saucepan. This roast chicken and vegetables in one of my favourites.
Use a slow cooker
Slow cookers are brilliant for prepping dinner early in the morning, then leaving it all day. Most of the recipes I cook just require a side of mashed potato or steamed rice, which are easy to prepare at ‘witching hour’.
What is your best tip for preparing dinner during witching hour?
For more details about Burnaid® visit their website www.burnaid.com.au. Mundipharma Pty Limited, Sydney. Burnaid® gel is for the first aid treatment of minor burns. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional. ® Burnaid is a registered trade mark. CH-0084 10/16