The Family Cook-In: 25 Tips For Quick Meals

Slicing & dicing is fun but food procesor saves time while bagged produce saves $. It's your choice

Slicing & dicing is fun but a food processor saves time while bagged produce saves $. It’s your choice

by donR March 2nd 2016

Preparing the meal during a Family Cook-In is fun. However it is just one of several activities planned for the gathering. Prep and cooking needs to unfold in a short amount of time to allow for lots of game activities and meaningful conversations.

There are ways to assemble a nutritious meal without resorting to highly processed foods like Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice or Jello Instant pie filling. Here are 25 ways to cut prep and cooking time:

  • Start the cooking session by posting a list of tasks and let families choose areas of responsibility. This will shorten the set-up and clean-up time plus promote a sense togetherness within the group of families.
immersion blender

immersion blender

Counter-top gadgets can be useful. Two items are almost a necessity for some purposes:

  • A food processor makes quick work when making hummus, salsa, pesto and salad dressings.
  • The hand-held immersion blender can puree fruit, emulsify soup and make smoothies much faster than using a fork,  spoon or wire whip.

Some foods can be cooked ahead of time and kept hot in a slow-cooker or roaster. This works for:

  • Slow-Cooked Pork
  • Roasted meats
  • One-skillet meals.

The first person to arrive for the event sets the stage for cooking:

  • Turn on the ovens to be ready for baking, roasting or as a warming oven.
  • Get water boiling on the stove for pasta, steaming or soup.
  • Set up prep stations with clean utensils and containers
  • Lay out recipes to alleviate confusion
Most restaurant suppliers sell to the general public.

Most restaurant suppliers sell to the general public.

Prepping ingredients is a great activity but sometimes it is a better option to buy it in the bag.  As an example, pre-cooked food from a restaurant supplier is often safer by reducing potential for food-born illnesses.  It is usually flavorful, budget-friendly and a welcome time-saver.

Note: follow directions about thawing it safely.

  • Chicken strips
  • Pulled pork
  • Taco filling
  • pizza crusts
  • Casseroles (like lasagna @ $0.60 per serving.)
  • Pre-cooked hamburgers

Prepared cold-cuts are washed and packaged  in sanitary processing plants. You will find bargain price at restaurant suppliers

  • Shredded cheese
  • Sliced deli meats
  • Cut carrot & celery strips.
  • Chopped salad mix
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Washed fresh fruit.
Plan on buying fresh produce when in season. Frozen is the next best choice.

Plan on buying fresh produce when in season. Frozen is the next best choice.

Buying from local farmers and growing your own produce sends an important message.  If time allows, buy local, wash it thoroughly, pat dry  and then slice & dice.

Otherwise the following packaged ingredients not only save time, they are processed when flavor is at its peak:

  • Spaghetti, enchilada and pizza sauce
  • Frozen vegetables. (easy to steam cook them)
  • Freeze-dried mashed potatoes

And as a final thought, cookies, biscuits, sweet rolls, baked apples, roasted veggies,  and French bread pizza can be easily made from scratch and cooked in a counter-top toaster oven. If you have other ideas, post them on our forum pages.

Find lots of great ideas at The Family Dinner

Find lots of great ideas at The Family Dinner

Coming next in the Family Cook-In Series part 5 we’ll link  you with games your family will enjoy. It’s all about “Food, Fun and Conversation That Matters.”