My 5 Favorite Kitchen Shortcuts

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My 5 Favorite Kitchen Shortcuts Does anyone else feel like they’re always in the kitchen these days or is it just me? I feel like all my family does is eat, eat, eat, eat, and eat some more. There are days my house and my kitchen feels like a never-ending pit of snacks and dishes.

Since we’re at home most of the time now, I’m cooking more than ever. I’m also cleaning more than ever, planning more activities, schooling the older kids, all while full-time breastfeeding and nurturing a newborn. I am constantly finding ways to cut my work in half during this season of life. Maybe you prefer to make everything from scratch and spend time making things picture-perfect. Not me. Not right now. My sanity can’t handle it. I’ve never been a Pinterest mom. If I can find ways to cut dishes in half, I will. If I can find ways to cut down on kitchen time, I will. If I can find ways to cut down on spending, I will. If I can be a minimalist somewhere in my life, consider it done.

Although shortcuts aren’t always the answer, right now they’re necessary for me in order to regain what’s left of my sanity. Here are some of my favorites:

Starbucks instant iced coffee

I crave iced coffee, but I live about 25 miles from the nearest Starbucks. Also, I’m not about to do the work of loading three kids in the car just to get a treat from Starbucks. This instant iced coffee takes about 30 seconds to make and tastes delicious. No need to add cream or sugar — it’s perfect as is.

Jack Daniels precooked meat

These premade, precooked main dishes are a lifesaver some days. Is it perfectly homemade from scratch? No. Is it delicious and way easier to make? Yes. Honestly, the sauce is amazing and I don’t have to wash a ton of pots or pans afterwards. I keep several of these in the fridge, just to keep on hand for when I need a shortcut. This brand has a variety of meals (pulled pork, ribs, brisket, chicken, etc.) It’s already cooked, so you can either bake it, microwave it, or throw it in the slow cooker to warm it up.

And speaking of slow cookers…

I got this gem for Christmas last year (thanks mom!). It’s a 3-in-1 slow cooker and it’s my favorite kitchen gadget by far. Feeding a big family is suddenly easier with this thing. It’s also great for holidays and hosting and get this: it only costs around $30-$60 depending on the quart size. I usually leave veggies and meats to slow cook while I go about my day. When it’s dinner time, the food is all in one place and ready to eat. Make a mental note to put this on your Christmas list! Mine is TRU brand. You can buy it at Kohl’s, but also at Walmart and a few other places as well.

Collapsible cutting board

When I do take the time to chop up my meals, I want something that saves space. This cutting board is awesome. It’s light, easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and doubles as a basin for washing fruits and veggies. Hey, if I can find a 2-in-1 kitchen tool, I’m always sold on it.

Boxed cookie mix

I know how tasty made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies are, but hear me out: these are so good. I’ve brought these to parties and potlucks before and they were a big hit. People can’t believe they’re not only from a box mix, but gluten free. My son can’t have gluten, so I’ve been on the hunt to find the perfect dessert for him. These are his favorites. I can make a lot of these very quickly, and they taste just as good as the homemade version with half the dishes and time spent.

I hope these time savers help you out. If you have more ideas, drop them in the comments below. Mothering during a pandemic has been difficult. I am happy. I am blessed. But I’m still stressed. Even though I’m surrounded by people who depend on me, it gets lonely and overwhelming being confined to my home. If you feel like you’re going crazy, you’re not alone. There’s no shame in using shortcuts when you need them, and remember, this season of life is only temporary. 

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I live in La Follette, TN with my husband Luke and our 3 children: Amelia (8), Lincoln (3), and Arthur (newborn). I'm a kindergarten teacher in the public school system and I absolutely love what I do. I'm very passionate about education and the well-being of children all over the world. I like to write about my experiences as both a mother and a teacher. Balancing both is really tricky, and I'm still getting the hang of it. My husband, who I truly believe is the world's best father, is an auctioneer at his family business Longmire Realty & Auction Co. While we love our jobs, we value family time the most. We spend a lot of time outdoors and love to go camping all over the east coast.

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