How to Spend Less Time in the Kitchen with the Best Cooking Ideas

Back when my children were little, I was stressed out finding cooking ideas. There had to be an easier way to cook than the way I was doing it. I had been on bedrest for 12 weeks with my third daughter and was stressing about how I was going to know what to cook for dinner with three small children.

Mom guilt is real! When I was focusing on cooking I would feel guilty about not spending time with my children. Then when I was playing with my children, I would feel guilty that I wasn’t cooking or cleaning.

I had heard about Once A Month Cooking but it just seemed too overwhelming for a mom with 2 small children. I only knew 2 people that had done this cooking system and they only did it once!

That didn’t seem like a very good system if it was such a huge task.

My System – Cooking Ideas for Cooking Less Often

I started experimenting with cooking large quantities and putting extra meals in the freezer. I figured I had to cook every day, so why not make more if I was already going to be in the kitchen?

This system evolved and by the time our daughter was born, I had over 50 meals in the freezer without hardly any extra work! I loved the fact that I could relax my brain knowing that I didn’t have to think about cooking ideas most nights because that work had already been done months ago.

I started to think that maybe other moms needed this system too. So I wrote out all my directions and freezer meal recipes and put them into an ebook. Here are the basic principles.

Here are the principles I learned about easy freezer meals and how I implemented them:

Use the time you are already in the kitchen – I realized that each day I was going through the same steps over and over again. I was browning meat, chopping onions, adding spices, etc. Although Once a Month Cooking appealed to me, it was not easy to duplicate. So I had to find a better way to cook and come up with cooking ideas.

Go beyond doubling meals – I went through my best recipes and found the recipes that freeze well. Then I cooked a meal in quadruple. We ate one meal that night and put the other 3 meals in the freezer for another busy day. Quadrupling a meal is really not any harder than doubling a meal. They just multiply a LOT faster!

Related: Easy Healthy Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

Repeat the System

Repeat – I cooked a quadruple freezer meal about once a week. This was after coming off of 12 weeks of bedrest! If I could do this, anyone could.

I repeated this task each week until, to my surprise, I had over 50 meals in the freezer by the time our daughter was born.

You can imagine the joy this new momma felt! I could go to my freezer and find a nice selection of meals to choose from when I found that I didn’t have time to cook!

It really wasn’t any harder to put a tablespoon of oregano into a meal than it was a teaspoon. If I chopped 1 onion, I found that it was a lot easier to chop three or four at a time as opposed to getting out a cutting board, using a knife, and having to wash everything 4 times when I prepared that meal individually.

Even if I only did this 2 or 3 times a month, that still gave me 2-3 meals that we ate and 6-9 extra meals in the freezer that month. Who wouldn’t love to have 6-9 extra meals stocked in the freezer?

Related: 6 Irresistibly Easy and Healthy Dinner Ideas for Busy Families

Helps you eat healthier

I found that these cooking ideas helped me to not rely on unhealthy convenience foods as much. Now I could buy good ingredients in bulk, add my own spices, and get healthy meals prepared that probably ended up costing less too. I was also doing less dishes in the end!

Do as little or much as you want – The beauty of this system is that you can do this system as little or as much as you want depending on your schedule. If you find yourself getting away from cooking this way, you can easily pick it back up at any time.

smart cooking

I put all the instructions for this system along with our favorite recipes into an ebook called Smart Way Cooking. People don’t have to use my recipes. They can choose their family favorites and use my directions on how to adapt this for their family.

how to cook

Then after a few years, I wrote another ebook. This one was about using the ingredients I had on hand for coming up with easy meals to cook. This way if people weren’t into freezer cooking just yet, they could use Cooking From Your Cupboard first.  

With this method, I just stock my kitchen and pantry with the recommendations in the book and then I can make any recipe I want. That way I can get up in the morning and think about what I felt like cooking that night. I knew I had everything I needed and that I just had to make sure I got some meat thawed. This way I put my cooking on auto-pilot by using NORMAL ingredients that I kept stocked in our kitchen.

Save a Ton of Time in the Kitchen

Both these systems save a ton of time in the kitchen. Mostly they save a lot of thinking about “What’s for Dinner”. It’s so easy to either pick a freezer meal or choose a meal from a list where I know I have everything on hand.

When you spend less time in the kitchen, you have more time to spend on things you enjoy more than cooking. You can use my recipes or adapt your own. Either way, let’s get you cooking healthy meals with less stress and time!

Do you struggle with coming up with quick dinner ideas and healthy meals? Check out Smart Way Cooking and Cooking From Your Cupboard and let me know if you have any questions.

My favorite Cooking Tools 

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