7 Time-saving Tips To Put Food On The Table Fast

Plus, recipes to try!

Cooking at home is one of the best ways to save money as well as eat better. You never know exactly what goes in your food but when you cook your food yourself, you are assured that what you're putting into your food is the kind of ingredient you want in your food. 

However, everyone also knows that it takes time to cook at home. You have to put aside the time to do the prepping, cooking, and cleaning up.

Don't worry! We have prepping and cooking strategies for you to try so you can put food on the table faster. All it takes is a few pantry basics and these cooking tips to come up with a delicious dish you (and your entire family) will enjoy!  

Photo by Patrick Martires

1 Use only 5 ingredients! 

It doesn't seem so hard to do if you are only using 5 ingredients, does it? That's the idea behind these recipes! You don't have to limit yourself when cooking but if you're strapped for time, five is all you need.

Here are a few recipes to try:

  • A stir-fry like this Chinese Pepper Steak recipe encourages you to cook with less oil! All you have to do is invest in a good nonstick pan and choose meats with fat that can be rendered. This 5-ingredient recipe is a good place to start. 
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  • Elevate a simple fried tilapia like this Five-Spice Tilapia recipe by seasoning it with store-bought Chinese five-spice powder. It's a tasty blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, and Szechuan peppercorns. The result is a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spicy. 

When you cook your meats slowly, you don't lose any flavor to high heat. Instead, you gently tenderize while intensifying flavor.
Photo by Patrick Martires | Styling by Rachelle Santos

2 Make a big batch during the weekend.  

A little cooking magic can cut the cooking time in half! Make a big batch of beef stew then use the meat to whip up two more dishes fo the next couple of meals. Now isn't that a great plan?  


Here are recipes to try: 

  • The basic beef stew is pretty normal so why not change things up and make a Beer-Braised Beef recipe instead? This classic stew will satisfy big appetites, and the beer gives it a well-rounded flavor. Don't worry about the alcohol; it will evaporate completely while cooking.
  • Want to indulge in Taco Tuesdays? This Shredded Beef Kaldereta Soft Tacos recipe should do the trick! You just need to turn the beef stew into taco filling! Tangy vinegar and earthy cumin give the meat the flavor punch you're looking for in Mexican food. Then jazz up the tacos with pickled jalapenos, olives, and roasted bell peppers.
  • Give your beef stew another makeover and turn it into a rich pasta sauce and make this Baked Ziti with Braised Beef recipe. Play with the flavors by adding your favorite herbs. Try basil, thyme, or oregano. 

Cooking at home is easy if recipes only take 20 minutes to prepare like this one.
Photo by Patrick Martires

3 Cook 20-minute meals! 

If you're in a rush to prepare dinner for your loved ones, the solution is to whip up a meal without breaking a sweat! Dishes that are fast, economical, and definitely tasty should be on your list of -go-to recipes. 

Here are four recipes to try: 

  • If you can't get enough of the fast-food version of this beef wrap, you'll love this Beef Shawarma Rice recipe that's fast and easy to cook! Just add chili flakes to the marinade for a spicy kick.  
  • You can use a peanut butter sauce to coat the noodles in this fast and easy Chicken Chow Mein recipe, giving this dish a slightly sweet flavor profile. Try adding shrimp to the mix, too, for a more hearty meal. 

Cooking is fast, easier when you can only use one pan.
Photo by Patrick Martires

4 Use only one pan. 

This the ultimate goal: spend less time in the kitchen and more time around the dinner table. The solution? Whip up fuss-free one-pan dishes and we have ideas about exactly what recipes to cook to make this happen. 

Here are recipes you can try: 

  • Cilantro, garlic, and lime juice make a great team - their flavors are the foundation for this South American-inspired dish: Arroz Con Pollo with Cilantro recipe. Round out your meal with fried saba or grilled vegetables. 

Photo by Patrick Martires

5 Turn to stir-fries.  

Bring out the wok and toss together a handful of ingredients! Dinner can definitely be that easy.  

Here are recipes to try: 

  • With gochujang, gochugaru, and kimchi in the mix, this Korean Pork Stir-fry recipe packs a lot of heat. Tweak the amount of these spicy ingredients that you will put in if desired, especially if you're feeding kids. 

Using quick-cooking cuts of meat is a perfect time-saving tip.
Photo by Patrick Martires

6 Store it in the freezer. 

This weekend, prep weekday meals in advance then pop them in the refrigerator or freezer. All you'll have to do on Monday (and the succeeding days) is reheat and serve. You can cook these dishes up to two days in advance and refrigerate in a covered container so it's easy to reheat. 

Here are recipes to try:  

  • If you're fond of Japanese dishes and particularly love sukiyaki, you'll love this quick and easy Japanese Beef and Potato Stew recipe. Make it heartier by adding fresh mushrooms, tofu, and radish. 
  • Make an easy meatless meal and turn to this Vegetable Bolognese recipe. The mix of vegetables and meaty mushrooms makes this pasta dish quite satisfying. 
  • These patties highlight the aromatic flavors of Thai cuisine. Serve this Thai-inspired Pork Sausage recipe with steamed rice and a refreshing cucumber salad or place between toasted burger buns for a grab-and-go meal.  

Easy side dishes make any meal more satisfying.
Photo by Patrick Martires

7 Pair mains with easy side dishes. 

Complete your meal with any side dish! it'll turn a simple lunch into a more special and satisfying one. Side dishes provide flavor, color, and texture contrasts. When choosing the perfect side for your main, try pairing spicy dishes with sweet, creamy sides, dark meat and stews with something light, and tender mains like grilled fish with crunchy vegetables.   


Here are recipes to try: 

  • Make it feel like it's still summer by serving this Barbecue Beans recipe with fried chicken, grilled meat and sausages, and other American dishes. 


Article was published in the July 2015 issue of Yummy Magazine. Minor edits were made by Yummy.ph editors. 

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