1. Think economy of scale. When you are preparing a meal that involves a spice mixture, double up or triple up on it so that next time you will be that much closer to a finished dish. My daughter loves the cinnamon-cumin-tumeric-curry spice blend in this Moroccan-Spiced Shrimp so we always make more than we need. The meal is quick as it is, but when the spices have been pre-mixed, it literally becomes a 5-minute dinner. This kind of thinking works for homemade salad dressings, washing greens for salad, chopping vegetables that will keep for a few days.
2. Take two minutes to think about dinner in the morning before the camp/school/craziness: Chop an onion, thaw the chicken you have in the freezer. That way you are getting the ball rolling psychologically, too. Even though chopping an onion takes three minutes, at the other end of a long, tiring day, it can feel like it’s saved you 20.
3. When you freeze homemade sauces and stocks, freeze them flat in ziploc bags. It will take only seconds to thaw them under running water as opposed to 20 minutes if it was frozen in a cubed container or just poured into a bag and frozen in a big amorphous blob.
4. Boil water as soon as you walk in the door. Even if you don’t know what you’re making, by my math there’s a 75% chance that you’ll use it for something.
5. Layout the lunch gear when you’re cleaning up dinner. Scrape un-eaten veggies and chicken pieces and bread scraps right into the containers. Again, the name of the game is getting yourself one step ahead. As long as you have the stuff out, get it done.