Ramadan is a time for reflection & detox of the mind & body, not a time to stress over what to cook & certainly not the time to be wasting hours in the kitchen when you can be doing many more beneficial tasks!
During Ramadan, apart from worship and concerns of how to spiritually improve yourself, a lot of people get preoccupied with what they will cook or prepare for iftar and suhoor for thirty days.
In my Ramadan Series, I will be giving you some time saving/money saving tips to help you use the time you have to its utmost potential.
Meal planning doesn’t need to be stressful, it’s supposed to help you manage your time & budget.
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The Key Is Planning
Create a basic meal plan for the month ahead of time, so you’re not trying to figure out what to make each night while being HANGRY when fasting.
If you’ve never done a meal plan before, it will take a bit of time and effort to put it together – most likely several hours, but it’s really worth it once it’s done. Having a meal plan will save you time, money and stress and also allow you to shop and prepare meals in advance, in’sha’Allah.
Once you start meal planning you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t think of doing it sooner!
Using a notebook is good so you can refer back to it each month! You can also keep your list of favorite meals in it to refer back to.
Any notebook or planner will work, but I recommend a Bullet Journal as these can be used for many tasks, not just meal planning.
See how one blogger made her journal into a way of life & never looked back – HelgaMarieBlog
Before you begin, take a few minutes to look through your cabinets/pantry, fridge & freezer to see what you have already! You might even be able to make a few meals and use up all the items you already have.
Add in your meals
I keep a list of our most loved meals and pull a few from there to start. If you have fussy prat kids like me, or dietary restrictions then this helps save time since you already know these recipes are enjoyed and safe for your family!
Do you have a night each week that you’re consistently short on time? This happens to me, usually towards the end of the week when I can’t really be bothered, so I happily designate that night as #bishbashbosh (quick easy dinners) such as pizza or Spag Bol night! Lazy nights can be harder during Ramadan because you want to make sure the whole family are getting a nutritious meal & after a day fasting, you don’t want to present them with something quick with empty carbs such a spaghetti! So think about balancing your meals on lazy night & making them as nutritious as possible to help replenish the body after fasting.
Fill In the Gaps – Leftover Night
During Ramadan I find my eyes are bigger than me belly, that means I’m drooling over foods on Pinterest with high hopes I’ll be able make it & when it comes to Iftar (the time of breaking the fast) I only end up eating Soup, Borek and maybe a FEW bites of the main if I’m lucky! So we end up with leftovers! If you’re the same, you’ll want to have a “leftover night” or incorporate you’re leftovers into making something else with them to save money.
It’s Really Quite Simple
So, if you think about it, after a Lazy Night & a Leftover Night, you really only have to “plan” 5 more dinners/iftars for the week. So try to space out your veg/meat/chicken/fish dishes so you can get a well varied meal plan in order.
Firstly, I need to stress that you should set a budget and stick to it! Whatever your budget it, be sure you’re clear and focused on sticking to it! Monthly meal planning is supposed to save you money, not make you spend more! Using a tracker will help you to keep stock of your outgoings & help you determine your food shopping budget. See my post all about tracking your spending and grab yourself a free printable tracker – Thrifty Expense Tracker
Once you have your budget in order & have decided how many meals you are prepping for you can begin to calculate how much you’ll need to spend & save
Quick Kitchen Preparation
Having everything ready will help you save time, you want to be organised & get everything set up & out in front of you….. ingredients, tools & any recipe books or recipe pages loaded on your phone & be ready to roll! See how to really get your kitchen prep in order with my post on the quickest time saving hacks – Cooker To Plate On Fleek!
Keys to Saving Time in the Kitchen
- Simplify Your Meals this Ramadan. Simplify your food so you can cut back on kitchen time.
- Work Smarter Not Harder. Try to figure out ways that you can ‘work smarter, not harder’ reducing your time in the kitchen while still getting amazing results!
- Prepare in Advance. You’d be amazed at how much time advance preparation can save you.
Internet quick meals are your friend!
You can make lush, delicious and nutritious food in 30 minutes, Or if you’re feeling really brave 15 minutes! (Thanks Jamie Oliver!) Nobody will ever know… all the taste and benefit without spending hours in the kitchen. This #bishbashbosh at it’s finest! 😉
Start trying any recipes out now & see which ones work for you. Keep your favourite recipes in your journal or notes on your phone & use them this Ramadan. Using quick recipes & clever cooking techniques will allow you to achieve great results without cutting corners on health and flavour, and hopefully free up your time so that you can focus on worship!
Slow cookers & pressure cookers
Slow cookers do exactly that, slow cook! You can leave them doing the hard part while you focus on other things. The way slow cookers enhance the flavour & texture of food is just mind blowing, a must try!
Try out some delicious slow cooker recipes as soon as possible to see what you and your family like. Pressure cookers are really lifesavers & time savers! You wont be sorry, slow cookers & pressure cookers somehow make everything taste so delicious!
Shop in advance
Once you know what you plan to make, do a bulk shop before Ramadan and buy whatever you can in one go. The last thing you need when fasting is to be food shopping…. you will be buying a whole lot of stuff you probably won’t eat because you’re hungry & everything looks good! Try to bulk buy, You will only have to top up on fresh ingredients each week then.
This will save you on both the time & energy.
Cook in advance & freeze meals
Having the bulk of a meal already cooked can be a lifesaver on those days when you are tired. Set aside a cooking day – double or triple up on recipes and freeze them in daily portions. This will cut down massively on preparation time for each meal. Borek/Sombosa (wrapped filo pastry) are great for this, see my – Fatayer recipe. Iftar soups are particularly good for making in bulk and freezing as they’re quite time consuming, it’s easier to just whip out & heat the soup or grab a few Borek before iftar & cook them from frozen. See my crispy Algerian Borek recipe & tips on freezing ahead – Traditional Borek Recipe Borek is just one variety of pastry that you can freeze ahead.
Prep, prep, prep!
Chop vegetables for salads etc. and store them in containers in the fridge so you can just grab whatever you need each day. Blend spice mixes, dressings, marinades in advance so they are ready when you need them. All these little preparations done ahead of time can really make a daily difference to your daily kitchen time, it also saves on the unexpected yuck having a flavour that isn’t nice, because you haven’t been able to “test” the dressings before making them because you’re fasting.
Make Cooking and Meal Preparation an Act of Worship
Preparing food for yourself and your family is an act of worship, when done for the sake of Allah, Alhamdullilah, When you spend time in the kitchen this Ramadan, don’t miss out on the opportunity for Ajr by making the right intention and making your efforts for the sake of pleasing Allah.
So there are some of my Ramadan time saving tips to keep you motivated. Do you have any time saving tips to add to these?
Let me know in the comments below & don’t forget to share!!