Save Time with Easy Meal Hacks

(Family Features) If it feels as though your life is too busy, you're not alone. Many families experience the feeling of constant busyness, but there are ways to save time around the house and lift some of those burdens.

In fact, one of the easiest places you can add extra minutes to your day is in the kitchen. Common meal preparation tasks like chopping vegetables, collecting spices, measuring ingredients and heating the oven can eat into time you could be spending with loved ones. Add in trying to follow a recipe on your phone or tablet with dirty hands or trying a new dish that doesn't work out as planned means putting dinner on the table can waste quality time.

Innovation and technology can make meal prep easier, and kitchen hacks like turning to ready-to-heat meals that take just minutes can enhance your productivity. Consider these simple ways to rethink your dinner routine in an effort to create more moments with loved ones:

  • Look for recipes with as few ingredients as possible. Dishes that include longer ingredient lists typically require more legwork in the kitchen, which usually involves additional prep steps and sometimes longer cook times. Plus, you're more likely to already have the necessities on-hand for recipes that call for 5-10 ingredients rather than lengthy lists.
  • Buy pre-cut vegetables to trim time spent on prep work. One of the processes that can surprisingly consume more time than you realize is cutting, chopping and dicing veggies prior to even really diving into a recipe's instructions. If you'd still prefer prepping your own fresh produce, try completing your work the night before when it doesn't interfere with quality time spent with family.
  • Meal kits certainly save time in the store, but be careful to avoid options that still include a lot of prep and cleanup. Focus on frozen kits that contain pre-chopped and measured ingredients that are ready to go.
  • Stock your pantry with the basics to make cooking quicker and easier. From condiments and canned goods to seasonings and spices, keeping the essentials on-hand means less time scrambling for a quick run to the store and more moments spent at home.
  • For one of the ultimate ways to trim kitchen time and cleanup, try a one-pan meal solution like Aqua Star Smart Seafood Sautés. Available in seven flavors ranging from Kung Pao Shrimp to Spanish-Inspired Seafood Paella, the meals are ready to eat in just 10 minutes, meaning more time to make dinner a fun event with additional moments shared at the table.

Feeling constantly busy can create a drag on dinner, but preparing in advance and finding ways to save precious minutes for family moments can turn mealtime back into a shared event. Find more time-saving solutions at

Stock Up on Pantry Essentials

Rather than rushing to the store each time your family decides what's for dinner, try keeping your pantry stocked with non-perishables that are often necessary in a variety of meals.

  • Seasonings and spices (salt, pepper, dried herbs, cumin, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, etc.)
  • Canned goods (tomatoes, beans, corn, broth, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, etc.)
  • Grains (flour, pastas, breadcrumbs, rolled oats, instant rice, etc.)
  • Condiments and oils (olive oil, canola oil, ketchup, mustard, vinegars, barbecue sauce, butter, cooking wines, etc.)

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