Cynthia Rowley's brilliant dinner hack will make cooking so much easier

Jul 14, 2016 at 10:55 a.m. ET
Image: Eilli O./Unsplash

We love a lot of things about Cynthia Rowley's profile in Well + Good — specifically her refrigerator game. Rowley's fridge is stocked with a bowl full of healthy grab-and-go snacks for her family, and she takes the trouble to freeze fruit juice into ice cubes. But it's her meal-planning hack that's blowing our minds.

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I work until 7:30 or 8 p.m., so if I don’t know what I’m going to make ahead of time, it’s probably takeout for us. It’s like laying out your outfit the night before. So this morning I mapped out dinner and am going to make a watermelon salad with feta, mint leaves and red onion, and black bean burgers on English muffins — although, I may have to actually make a real burger for the little one.

That's some next-level meal planning there. We all know planning meals ahead of time can make the difference between a sane, home-cooked meal and takeout. But actually mapping out the ingredients for dinner the same way you lay out your clothes the day before? Brilliant.

More: 5-Day Meal Plan: Feed your pasta cravings with light, summery flavors

It's kind of like a chef's mise en place — where you set up your workstation with all your ingredients ready to go — only for us regular, non-chef people.

What this means to me is that if I know what I'm cooking, I can group all the ingredients together in the fridge ahead of time. That way, when I get home from work, I can just pull everything out and get started — without going on a Pokémon GO-like scavenger hunt.

More: 5-Day Meal Plan: When you crave slow-cooked carnitas tacos and tostadas

Knowing how my mornings typically go, I don't see myself doing this in the a.m. rush. But it's definitely something I could do after dinner, the night before.

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