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10 Ways to Save Time in the Kitchen

Cooking Tip #1: Befriend the One-Pot Wonder

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Having a dish that packs in all the mealtime essentials—protein, carbs, and veggies—allows you to eliminate pesky side dishes and save time and money. Having just one easy recipe also saves you time when it comes to cleaning up afterwards. This Moroccan Chicken Tagine, with its chicken, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and tomatoes, does the trick for us.

Cooking Tip #2: Buy Bread

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Don't waste time making pasta or rice. Bulk up any meal with a slice of whole grain bread. This trick works well with saucy stews (we love this easy vegetable and barley stew recipe) and vegetarian sautés like this Mediterranean Vegetable Hash. If you need a quick appetizer, simply top baguette slices with anything under the sun and call it crostini!

Cooking Tip #3: Serve From the Skillet

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If you're hosting a casual dinner party, serve straight from the pan. It's very foodie and it saves time you'd spend transferring your meal to the serving platter (and washing the platter later). Better yet, serve straight from the stove. Pile plates and cutlery alongside and you won't even need to stop and set the table.

Cooking Tip #4: Delegate Duties

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Dinner guests often offer to bring wine. But if you're low on time, don't be shy about assigning other elements of the meal, too. Even something small like cheese and crackers means you'll have one less course to worry about. And for dessert? Suggest one of these easy dessert recipes to a friend. They're healthy and delicious!

Cooking Tip #5: Chop Once, Use Twice

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Make your ingredients do double duty. If you're using baby spinach in your main course, try serving the remainder of the bag as a side salad. This rule also applies when cooking two separate recipes that use many of the same ingredients. Chopping all your onions at once will save loads of time and lakes of tears.

Cooking Tip #6: Make Mixes Early

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Homemade pancakes every Sunday or warm chili on the stove all winter sounds like a lot of work, but they're both totally doable. Just measure out several batches of dry pancake ingredients or make a spice mix to store in plastic baggies. You'll avoid wrangling with boxes, jars or dirty measuring spoons when you cook your favorite dishes. Check out these easy breakfast recipes.

Cooking Tip #7: Clean First, Cook Later

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When you get home from the grocery store, wash herbs and veggies right away. You'll be much more likely to cook a healthy meal or grab a healthy snack if everything is clean and ready to roll. Wrap washed herbs and lettuce loosely in paper towels and put in plastic bags to reduce wilting.

Cooking Tip #8: Stock Your Pantry

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While most dishes need a fresh ingredient or two, stocking your pantry with cans (tomatoes, beans), boxes (pasta, chicken stock), and jars (olives, curry paste) of your favorite foods means there's always an easy meal at your fingertips. Just make up for it by eating whole foods at other meals. These superfoods hit their peak during colder months.

Cooking Tip #9: One Stop Shopping

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If you're having a dinner party or plan on cooking a lot of meals during the week, make a detailed grocery list and buy everything at once (here's an easy recipe to impress dinner guests). Shop on Sunday and your fridge will be stocked to perfection for the entire week. For urban cooks, websites like save time and eliminate the hassle of lugging grocery bags around town.

Cooking Tip #10: Start the Night Before

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Many hearty stews, soups, and baked pastas can be made start-to-finish a day or even two in advance. If you don't anticipate having time to make dinner before company arrives, do as much as you can the night before. If not a whole make-ahead meal, try to at least prep your ingredients. For more fast cooking tips and easy recipes, check out Big Girls, Small Kitchen.