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?