10 Tips for cutting your cooking time in half

Dec 1, 2011 at 4:39 a.m. ET

Eating in is healthier, less expensive and better-tasting than eating out, but finding the time to cook is an issue. Here are 10 tips to halve the time you spend cooking.

Woman chopping vegetables

Prep ahead of time

If tomorrow's dinner requires chopping, slicing and dicing meat and veggies, plan ahead. Do the hard work when you have spare time, and you'll dramatically cut down on the overall time it takes to cook your dish. Just toss in the cut meat and produce to build your meal.

Slow cook

True, the actual cooking time takes awhile, but prep for a slow cooker meal takes little to no work. Usually, all you have to do is toss some meat and a few ingredients into a pot and let the ingredients simmer all day. Take 10 minutes in the morning to prepare your meal. What comes out after a day of errands is a savory, truly homecooked meal with little effort.

Cut a few corners

Cut a few corners -- without sacrificing taste, that is. You can purchase certain items from the frozen aisle that actually taste homemade -- for example, hash browns and rolls. Buy them packaged to cut down on time and hassle.

Make your own frozen meals

When you have the time, prep a few meals to freeze so you can take them out of the freezer later and pop them into the oven. That way, you always have a delicious, homemade meal just waiting to be heated and eaten.

Microwave instead

A baked potato takes more than an hour and a half to cook properly in the oven. In about 10 minutes, though, you could have the same taste from the microwave. Microwaving isn't always bad, especially in the case of the potato, which winds up tasting nearly the same.

Broil instead of bake

Setting the oven to broil rather than bake can get you the crispy effect you want in half the time. Place garlic bread or other already baked bread products under the broiler for a tasty timesaver.

Buy what you can't cook quickly

Most grocery stores offer a hot, rotisserie-style chicken for less than $8. Add that to your quick recipes and cut cooking time considerably.

Learn knife skills

You might have been cooking your whole life, but you might not have been prepping properly. Cut your time and veggies with proper knife skills.

Use frozen, chopped veggies

Frozen veggies are already the perfect size and cut. Just warm them up and serve.

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