February is National Time Management Month! The kitchen is one place where it can be really tricky to manage our time. Cooking a meal and having it ready all at the same time takes preparation and practice!
Most of us have grandmothers who were magically able to turn out a delicious Sunday dinner, and knew how to have it ready at the same time. Have you ever wondered how they did that? I don’t cook as well as my Nana does, but I do have some secrets of Sunday dinner to share with you. Even if you don’t cook a big Sunday dinner, these tips will help you with entertaining or any meal you put on the table.
The secret is all in the planning! If you’re new to cooking a meal with multiple components, think about each item you’re making and how long it will take to get it ready. Work backward from the time you want to have it on the table and start with the part that will take the most time.
Here’s a typical Sunday meal and how I plan ahead to have it all ready at the same time.
Two Days Before:
- Take chicken out of freezer to thaw (if your chicken isn’t frozen, you can skip this step!)
The Day Before:
- Decide what bowls you need for serving
- Prep chicken for roasting and store in the fridge
- Peel and chop potatoes. Place them in a colander inside a stock pot and fill with water. Cover. (This keeps the potatoes from turning brown)
The Day Of (except for cooking the chicken, these can all be done about 30 minutes before you want to eat):
- Place chicken in oven and roast according to recipe
- When chicken is done, take out of roasting pan to rest
- Boil potatoes
- Start the gravy
- Carve the chicken and cover with foil to keep warm (I always ask Paul to do this step!)
- Start green beans
- Put biscuits in the oven
- Mash potatoes
- Finish gravy
- Take biscuits out of oven and put them in a bread basket
- Put the rest of the food in serving platters
- Call the hungry people to the table!
That looks like a lot of work, but it’s possible! Listing every task also helps you to think reasonably about the time you need to get it all done. It does take practice, but I believe that thinking things through ahead of time reduces stress and makes your attempts much more successful! After a couple years of practice, I can have this chicken dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Here’s to a Grandmother-grade Sunday dinner! 🙂