How long does it take you to cook dinner? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 10-11-2013, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Curious to know if many of you consistently do it in just 1 hour.

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#2 of 23 Old 10-12-2013, 06:04 PM
 
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Most of our meals can actually be made - from prep to table - in 30-45 minutes. And I cook mostly from scratch. Weeknights we tend to do old standbys that I know from heart and can just whip up in no time. 


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#3 of 23 Old 10-19-2013, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Care to share any other tips for being most efficient?  I'm wondering, since you cook from scratch yet can still get it all ready in that short a time, if a lot of your meals are raw, like salads, which I can't do much of (although I wish I could).

 

Thank you for sharing... your reply gave me an inspiration on one way I can speed things up a little bit more.

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#4 of 23 Old 10-19-2013, 11:35 AM
 
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Yes, done in an hour. Less oven and more stovetop cooking. Butterflied chicken breast, veggie rice and salad are an example. It also helps to have good equipment.
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#5 of 23 Old 10-19-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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Almost always, unless you count waiting for dough to rise, oven stuff to cook etc. It helps that I do a lot of precooking in advance though...if I fire up the grill to cook steaks I'll fill it with chicken while we eat and then freeze in portion sizes, cook a few pounds of ground meat to freeze to be seasoned later for tacos, sauce, etc. Plus I always cook enough for leftover to be tweaked for another night.
So most of my dinner prep is really just pulling a meal together, not the actual cooking.
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#6 of 23 Old 10-19-2013, 01:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PeachBaby View Post
 

Care to share any other tips for being most efficient?  I'm wondering, since you cook from scratch yet can still get it all ready in that short a time, if a lot of your meals are raw, like salads, which I can't do much of (although I wish I could).

 

Thank you for sharing... your reply gave me an inspiration on one way I can speed things up a little bit more.

 

We don't eat a lot of raw stuff or salads. We tend to favor pasta and quick-cooking stuff in our house, so things like pasta salad, potato soup, pan-fried chicken with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli - things like that. 

 

For things that take longer to cook, like chili or bolognese, I'll make up a big batch on the weekends and freeze it in dinner portion sizes. 

 

I love to cook, so I tend to be able to move fast in the kitchen as well. Having good knife skills is essential for this - being able to chop up a few onions, carrots and celery in about two minutes makes prep easy and quick. And I know all of my favorite recipes by heart, so I don't have to take time to consult recipes or cookbooks. The more you cook, the easier this type of stuff becomes. 


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#7 of 23 Old 11-01-2013, 11:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kitchensqueen View Post
 

 

I love to cook, so I tend to be able to move fast in the kitchen as well. Having good knife skills is essential for this - being able to chop up a few onions, carrots and celery in about two minutes makes prep easy and quick. And I know all of my favorite recipes by heart, so I don't have to take time to consult recipes or cookbooks. The more you cook, the easier this type of stuff becomes. 

I completely agree with this.  Also - having GOOD knives makes a huge difference.  I can prep a meal a zillion times faster now that my mother bought be a set of GOOD knives...thanks mom!!

 

Most things I make for dinner can be ready in about 30 minutes...casseroles, stir-fry, simple meat/potato/veg meals, many pasta dishes. Things that take longer to cook, such as sauces or soups that need to simmer all day, or whole-stuffed chicken, for example, I save for weekends when I have more time.  


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#8 of 23 Old 11-01-2013, 12:27 PM
 
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We are a quick dinner family.  When it is just the kids and myself, we actually tend to eat vegetarian meals about 70% of the time. My husband always prefers  meat, so when he is home, it is often more involved cooking.  Usually, I will make a ham or a turkey- something like that on the day he comes home, then use leftovers from that in single portion sizes for other meals. 

On the weekend, I always make up a big batch of rice, some chicken breasts, and a large batch of soaked and cooked beans. I also boil a couple dozen eggs for quick snacks or additions to salads. They sit in the fridge as 'fast food' options.  If you have all of that done, as well as some veggies prechopped (again, in the fridge- do this whenever you do the other stuff- around here it is usually Sunday afternoon, I dedicate an hour or so to prep for the upcoming week) you can throw together something nutritious and tasty in no time flat. 

For example- a quick stir fry- I take out a package of precooked chicken, some chopped veggies (or if I am really lazy- prepackaged coleslaw mix) and toss it over some rice seasoned however it appeals to me that day.  Or I might make a quick curry with some beans and random veggie bits along with some yogurt.  If the rice and beans and chicken or whatever you plan on for that week are preprepped, it comes together in 20 minutes or less. And there is minimal mess to clean up since you did all of that on the weekend. 

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#9 of 23 Old 11-01-2013, 05:38 PM
 
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Also - having GOOD knives makes a huge difference.

 

Absolutely. And you don't have to spend a fortune on those imported block sets - I have Chicago Metallic knives and they're amazing. They've held up for over seven years now. Most home cooks need exactly two knives, maybe three. A 8 or 9 inch chef's knife, and a paring knife. If you bake your own bread (or cut a lot of tomatoes into slices - this is the secret to doing it) you'll want a serrated bread knife. That is it. 

 

And keep your knives sharp. Not just by rubbing it on that pole steel thing that comes with most sets, but a proper sharpener. I sharpen my knives once a week. A sharp knife is faster and safer. 


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#10 of 23 Old 11-04-2013, 12:25 AM
 
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35 - 45 minutes are typical for me.  I'm not a fast moving person so I plan carefully.  I'd only spend over an hour for very special meals.

 

My food usually get prepared and cooked in this order:

 

- Things that need to be baked (30 - 35 minutes).

- Things that need to be boiled (20 minutes)

- Stir-fry (< 10 minutes)

- microwave (2 - 3 minutes), usually leftovers

- salads (couple minutes)

 

This way they can all get ready at about the same time, so nothing is too cold or wilted. :)


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#11 of 23 Old 04-16-2014, 11:06 AM
 
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Like Amanda I cook mostly from scratch. Often there are saved meals already frozen down from a previous weekend batch cooking sesh which can be used to bulk up dinner to make it interesting and tasty. Mostgrub is done well within an hour, exception to this being roasts that mind their own business in the oven while I'm doing other things. Our stove is a splendid gas driven Lacanche, many rings on the hob mean getting it altogether is a cinch, as well as pleasure. Can say the same for my teenage sisters, all cooking up a storm sometimes within 35 mins stove-to-table.

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#12 of 23 Old 07-16-2014, 04:46 PM
 
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Sometimes it takes more than one hour, when i am alone. But with my family it seems more easier
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#13 of 23 Old 07-29-2014, 09:37 AM
 
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Usually it takes 20/30 minutes...I don't really like to cook so I don't want to spend too much time on it (shame on me!). I usually cook pasta, my son loves it and it is very fast and easy to cook!
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#14 of 23 Old 09-01-2014, 05:31 PM
 
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Usually it takes 20/30 minutes...I don't really like to cook so I don't want to spend too much time on it (shame on me!). I usually cook pasta, my son loves it and it is very fast and easy to cook!
It's not just the knives, it's the technique. My mother-in-law visits and insists on helping in the kitchen. It takes her 15-20 minutes to chop onions and celery for dressing - something I could do in 3 minutes.

If nothing else, watch cooking shows to see how professionals chop and then copy them. My mom is a super efficient cook and I learned by watching her. My adult daughter is amazed at how fast I do things, but TBH a lot of speed and efficiency comes from time and repetition. I've had my own household for almost 25 years and have cooked three meals a day from scratch all of those years. You can't help but get more efficient over time.

It still takes me 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the difficulty level) to make a meal, but I am feeding 4-5 adults or adult sized people and 4 small children for every meal.
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#15 of 23 Old 10-29-2014, 05:40 AM
 
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Usually 60 - 90 minutes for me, a lot of it feels like basic vegetable preparation.
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#16 of 23 Old 10-29-2014, 06:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kitchensqueen View Post
Most of our meals can actually be made - from prep to table - in 30-45 minutes. And I cook mostly from scratch. Weeknights we tend to do old standbys that I know from heart and can just whip up in no time. 
Same here. I don't normally use recipes for the standards. Or I use a set flavor profile but vary the ingredients - for example, stir-fry sauce is soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili-garlic paste or Vietnamese dressing is lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, chili-garlic paste, but the vegetables, protein and starch vary.

I don't get that fancy with side vegetables if they are not the focus of the meal: salad has 1-2 ingredients besides lettuce or just lettuce, steamed broccoli, cut-up carrot sticks, etc. Very fast.

Using some pre-prepared stuff helps. For me that's mainly pasta/noodles, jars of spaghetti sauce, frozen vegetables and edamame, tofu, baked goods, canned beans, sometimes dumplings or samosas. And the occasional bag of junky french fries or frozen pizza

Appliances! Sometimes the cooking time is actually longer, but prep is no more than 30 minutes. I use my rice cooker or slow cooker almost every day.

And planning is key - I meal plan to make sure I can stay within budget (getting better at that) and use up what I bought. I have started keeping certain staples stocked in case I need to make lunch or dinner quickly, or if I have extra kids over. You can almost always get a grilled cheese, bean tacos or spaghetti here.
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#17 of 23 Old 10-29-2014, 09:09 PM
 
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I don't get that fancy with side vegetables if they are not the focus of the meal: salad has 1-2 ingredients besides lettuce or just lettuce, steamed broccoli, cut-up carrot sticks, etc. Very fast.

Using some pre-prepared stuff helps. For me that's mainly pasta/noodles, jars of spaghetti sauce, frozen vegetables and edamame, tofu, baked goods, canned beans, sometimes dumplings or samosas. And the occasional bag of junky french fries or frozen pizza

Appliances! Sometimes the cooking time is actually longer, but prep is no more than 30 minutes. I use my rice cooker or slow cooker almost every day.
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#18 of 23 Old 10-31-2014, 03:07 PM
 
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Usually about 30 min and not more than an hour, but using appliances of course - a pressure cooker in case I cook for kids and a multi cooker Redmond for the whole family (a big bowl is great help)
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#19 of 23 Old 11-04-2014, 05:21 PM
 
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I do it in a few hours once a week, 3-5 hours a week. For hot meals I prep all portions into single serving meal combos and freeze. Cold food I cut up, or make tuna or egg salad, wash & cut veg, etc.

We don't eat a lot of vegetables or use "recipes" and we are basically paleo so it's just raw-ish meat & veg with fat & a little starch at every meal, hot or cold.

Daily I check the stocks of prepped food & thaw enough hot meals for 1-2 days. Single serving hot meals cook in our little convection oven in 20 minutes but I don't have to do anything to them.

I don't like to cook and I've kept it to a minimum.
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#20 of 23 Old 11-05-2014, 10:04 AM
 
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One of my favorite cheap & easy meals is a takeout Asian veg stirfry & add my own seafood scampi at home. It comes with a small rice which is enough for our low-carb family. We can get 4 meals from this + 10oz seafood & some garlic butter and it reheats beautifully, also good cold. Bone marrow, when I can get it, is great with this meal.
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#21 of 23 Old 02-01-2015, 09:26 AM
 
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I try to stick to recipes that are easily assembled and made in under an hour...as a single fulltime working mom the last thing I want to do after being on my feet all day is being stuck on them in the kitchen...For other recipes we like that require more time those are crockpot nights
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#22 of 23 Old 03-22-2015, 09:08 AM
 
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Curious to know if many of you consistently do it in just 1 hour.
30ish minutes here, start to finish including chopping. For weeknights I rotate the same 6-7 meals, most of which are 30 minutes or less. The main reason I can do this is I have a jumbo toaster oven that fits a pie plate and preheats in like 1min, plus a rice cooker. I almost never use my big oven. I'm posting a few of our standbys.

Salmon fillet: 31 min. Takes 1 min to drop in pan, add oil/salt/pepper/dill, and stick in toaster oven. Broils in 30 min, meanwhile I prep farro (boils in 20 min) or rice (20 min in rice cooker) and steamed veggie: green beans (6 min), broccoli (6 min), baby artichoke (20 min), etc.

Shrimp, pasta, and peas: 20 min. Put frozen shrimp in fridge to thaw in the AM. Boil pasta (16 min) and shrimp (2 min) separately; drop shrimp briefly in ice water afterward so they don't get rubbery. Microwave frozen peas (4 min). Combine them if you like (my kids like them all separate). Drizzle with olive oil and lemon at table.

Chicken thighs: 25 min. Coat thighs with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Chop peaches/basil (or use dried prunes in winter) and scatter on top. Roast 20 min at 400 deg. Accompany with rice (20 min in rice cooker) and while those cook I prep either one of the steamed veggies above or raw chopped veggies (sugar snap peas, carrots, bell peppers, grape tomatoes).

Baked ziti: 35 min. Boil pasta (16 min), chop mushrooms and onion. Saute mushrooms, onion, bay leaf; meanwhile chop spinach and parsley. toward the end add fake ground meat (we don't use real ground meat but if you do you'd want to add it earlier) and chopped spinach, parsley if you have. Total 15 min saute. When pasta is done, combine with the saute, add a couple of spoons of jarred red sauce and a little water, mix and transfer to pie pan, top with shredded mozzarella. Bake 10 min at 300, just to melt the cheese.

Fish fillets (cheater, I use frozen breaded halibut from TJs, but the cook time would be the same or even less for a plain whitefish fillet like tilapia; my kids don't like those though): 21 min. Drop frozen fillets on toaster sheet and cook at 400 for 20 min. Meanwhile prep coleslaw (shredded cabbage, tomato, cilantro, tossed with olive oil, salt, and ACV) and boil pasta to accompany (16 min).

Black beans and rice: 22 min. Dump 1 cup cooked black beans (I make in batches and freeze, thaw in fridge in the AM), 1 cup uncooked rinsed rice, 1 cup stock (also batched, I keep frozen in cubes), few spoonfuls jarred red sauce, some olive oil, a little frozen sweet corn, and salt to taste into rice cooker. While that is cooking, chop avocado and tomato and shred some cheddar for toppings. Can make salad to accompany if feeling fancy.

Portobello burgers: 35 min. Scrub and slice/dice potatoes (white or sweet, whatever you like - they need to be matchstick to be done in 30 min though, otherwise if you like fatter oven fries and are willing to wait, cooking time is extended accordingly), toss generously in olive oil/salt, bake at 400 deg for 30 min, remembering to flip a couple of times to avoid sticking/blackening. Then wash and stem portobellos and scrape out the gills. Coat caps in olive oil and sautee: 5 min gill side up, 7 min gill side down, then flip gill side up again, dump a scoop of pesto in the cap, add a slice of cheese to the top, and cook 2 min more until the pesto is warm and cheese melted. Serve on bun. Can throw salad together while portobellos cook, or just wash and string some raw sugar snap peas.

Soba noodle soup: 15 min. Boil broth/stock for soup (I make in batches and freeze in ice cube trays) and salted water for noodles separately to keep broth clear, or if you don't care you can boil the noodles directly in the broth. Throw a peeled thumb of ginger in the broth if you like. Boil soba noodles for 4 min; wash/stem bok choy and cube a block of extra firm tofu, throw those in boiling broth for 2 min, add a spoonful of soy sauce. Drain noodles and add to soup.

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#23 of 23 Old 06-24-2015, 10:59 AM
 
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I love all the good tips in this thread, but I have to confess it leaves me feeling inadequate. I don't time myself because I know it takes me way too long to prep a meal. Sometimes 2 hours. But I think a lot of that time is attributed to a) cleaning up after a snack session or previous meal in order to make room to cook, b) having very young children (ages 1 and 4), c) not having had many years of experience of cooking for a family, and d) not having a well laid-out kitchen. Maybe these are poor excuses, but they do add up. My sink is too far away from my food-prep counter, which means washing and chopping veggies never goes smoothly and I am walking back and forth way too much. Also, DH often comes in in the middle of my meal prep and needs a coffee warmed up or some sort of snack, which creates a traffic jam in the kitchen. Then there's the desire to try out new recipes and increase my repertoire. And I have to stop frequently to comfort a crying child, or somehow occupy them long enough to get the meal done. Also, I like to clean up as much as possible before the meal so I'll have less cleanup afterwards. Its all small stuff that adds up. I do hope I will get better and more efficient over the years. I'm often amazed at how quickly and effortlessly my mother gets things done. I turn my back for one minute and she's got all the veggies peeled and chopped. I think I should start watching her more closely!
But really, I wonder if I'm just too spacey and don't keep the big picture in mind when getting a meal ready. I could and should really be planning several meals in advance. This thread has some really good concrete advice on how to do that!

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