Lesson #95: How to Cook at All Hours of the Day

by Rachel on July 12, 2011

One of my tips for time management is finding the holes in your day. This is how I get a lot done; I look at my schedule and find little bits of time when I can fit in activities. A lot of times these are activities that I didn’t initially think made sense at that time of day, but later realize are a perfect fit.

One of the activities I do throughout the day is cooking. I’m all for preparing meals ahead of time — like a salad bar on Sundays — but rather than do everything on the weekend (like Andrea, who cooks a seriously impressive lineup of foods on Sundays), I cook a lot throughout the day. And I never cook the foods that I’m “supposed” to be cooking at that time.

This is how I do it.

Morning: soup and bread.

I’m around for a long stretch of time in the mornings, but I can’t exactly stir-fry while I’m doing my hair and make-up. That makes morning the perfect time to make foods that need a little prep time and a lot of cooking or baking time. I often don’t have the time or patience to preheat the oven and make a loaf of banana bread first thing on a Saturday morning (when I’m really craving it)…but I can make it first thing on a Friday morning so it’s ready for Saturday! On the weekend, I’d spend that hour it’s in the oven pacing around/starving, but the time flies by when I’m doing a bunch of things to get ready for work.

I’m also a big fan of getting up and making the soup I want to have for lunch. Again, I wouldn’t have the time or patience to make it at lunch time, but making it in the morning is perfect. It always makes me happy to go off to work with freshly-made soup in my bag for lunch.

See some of my favorite soup and bread recipes.

Lunchtime: slow cooker recipes.

I love preparing food in the slow cooker for dinner; it’s the perfect thing for busy nights and evening workouts. But a lot of slow cooker recipes only need to cook for 6 hours; if I put them in when I go to work, they are way more than done by the time I get home. Putting the ingredients in at lunch time is the perfect solution. And you can use the slow cooker for so many things: meat, soup, chili…even oatmeal. Yesterday at lunch I threw the ingredients for the Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper pork into my Crock Pot and it was perfect and ready when I got home!

See some of my favorite slow cooker recipes.

Dinnertime: hard boiled eggs.

Hard boiled eggs are one of those things I always want at lunch or as an afternoon snack, but I always forget to make them ahead of time, and I hate making them right before I’m going to eat them because I tend to forget about them and then they are too warm to eat immediately. Making them at dinnertime is the perfect solution. Since I’m already manning the stove for some reason or another, I won’t forget to drain them and let them cool. Then I just stick in the fridge to have over the next few days.

Bedtime: coffee.

I love my cold press coffee maker, but you have to make the coffee ahead of time — about eight hours in advance. The nice thing is, once it’s made, the coffee concentrate lasts two weeks and you can make hot or cold coffee with it, blend it into smoothies, or whip up lattes using the milk vibrator.

Making food at the “wrong” time of day allows me to spend less time in the kitchen (or at least feel like I’m spending less time in the kitchen) and more time doing other things that are important to me. And it’s a really good way to cook more and eat healthy.

Do you have any other You made that when? suggestions to add to the list?

{ 13 comments }

1 Dori July 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

I don’t have anything to add other than saying that I laugh every time you mention the milk vibrator.
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2 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. July 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

^^ Yes. :)
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3 Andie @ CanYouStayForDinner July 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

I love your multi-tasking ways :)

Very impressive, love!!
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4 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat July 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

Andrea is a cooking machine – I wish I was that organized. You still find a way to get it all done!
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5 Alli July 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

I do my weekly grocery shopping on Sunday, then spend a few hours when I get home prepping food for the week. I’ll usually make a big batch of granola (for office breakfasts), some hummus or white bean dip (and slice up some cucumbers or peppers for ready snacking)…in the winter when I can get away with having my oven go all day I’ll make a loaf of No-Knead Bread or some homemade fruit leather. I’ll also prep any sauces I might need during the week for my planned dinners (pizza, marinara, pesto, enchilada) so I don’t have to worry about those when I get home from work.

Yes, I’m a nerd who gets off on meal planning. I love it.
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6 Alyssa - fashion fitness foodie July 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

Slow cookers are my savor. End of story.

7 Alicia at Poise in Parma July 12, 2011 at 11:01 am

I really like the idea of making hard boiled eggs at dinner time. Whenever I try to make them at other times of day, I think “but I’m not going to be in the kitchen in 15 minutes to take them off the burner”. Egg crisis averted!

p.s. I love my milk vibrator. So does the hubby. Yes he plays with my toys.

(Yes I just typed that.)
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8 lucy July 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Excellent inspiration to remind me that my pitiful budget does not have to me poverty eating!

I just went back and freestyled a little on the Hungarian apple soup- amazingly easy and yummy. Thanks, Rachel :)

9 Rachel July 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm

“freestyled a little” — that made my day!

10 Chrissy (The New Me) July 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I do this all the time! If I’m going to slow cook anything, I put it together on my lunch break. I love the idea of boiling eggs at dinner. And I need to get back in the habit of making my own granola and hummus. I have gotten lazy, and being lazy is expensive.
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11 G July 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I bake desserts early in the morning, because that’s when my sweet tooth is usually the least active. This helps me not eat 1/2 of the batter or ingredients before the stuff actually gets turned into what it’s supposed to be!

12 Rachel July 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Oh that’s a good idea!

13 Ashley July 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I really think I am going to need to buy one of those cold press coffee makers..off to read that post now!
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