Got 15 minutes? Here’s 20 Things To Do and Help Get Dinner on the Table This Week

Waiting for water to boil?

Are The Wiggles on TV and you have some spare quiet time?

Got 15 minutes?

Let’s use that time to help you get dinner on the table this week.

You can get a lot done in 15 minutes. You just need to have an idea what to do – so you don’t spend 10 of the 15 minutes trying to decide what to do.

If you use the time when you have it available – you will make good use of it. Sometimes, a 15 minute block is all us Mamas get. So use that time wisely!

Here’s a list of 20 things that you can do, next time you have 15 minutes.

All of these will help you get dinner on the table.

And at the bottom of this post, you can download a free printable postcard that you can stick on your fridge so that you always have this list handy!

So – here we go. 15 minute tasks that you can do The Empowered Cook way.

The Empowered Cook shares 20 things to do in 15 minutes that will help you get dinner on the table. Click through to The Empowered Cook's website to read more!

#20 – Check Your Fruit Bowl

Do you have lemons that are nearly past their prime? Limes? If so – remove the rind, and freeze it in a snaplock bag.

Juice them and then freeze the juice in an ice cube tray.

And then you can add this to your meals when you need a little something extra (I really love steamed vegies with butter and garlic and squirt of lemon – delicious!)

Do you have too many apples? Peel, chop and steam them – and then pop them in the freezer. You can use these for making apple crumble or baking apple cakes.

Let me guess – you also have a number of black bananas that everyone is avoiding eating.

If so – peel these, pop them into a snaplock bag and again, freeze them! These are awesome for smoothies.

All of these tasks take you 15 minutes or less – and will mean you aren’t wasting any fruit.

#19 – Chop Vegetables

I try to do this one every weekend.

But I often just don’t have the time (or non-distracted time away from a toddler) to do this in one hit.

So I instead will do this whenever I have a few minutes in the kitchen – waiting for water to boil for example.

I grab broccoli, or capsicum or celery or carrot or whatever – and just chop it up. I then store these raw in the fridge in containers.

That way – I can just grab a handful of pre-cut vegies for dinner throughout the week. Saves me a load of time and makes it really easy to eat vegetables with all of our meals.

#18 – Make Dip or a Spread

I learnt this one when I was first feeding Ollie solid foods. He loved hummus, and bean dip and any other tip of ‘dippy’.

And now I often eat a few spoons of hummus as a snack through the week, with some vegetable sticks (remember those pre-cut vegies?!).

And making hummus is so easy – just whiz up some chickpeas, a spoon of tahini, a squeeze of lemon, some garlic and a pinch of salt – and its done.

Bean dip is similar and very flexible. I often just whiz up some white beans, some garlic and lemon and add some parsley or mint. And there you go – you have a dip or a spread for your sandwiches.

#17 – Make salad dressing in a jar

In summer this is pretty much a staple in my fridge.

Making dressing in a jar is fast and easy – you simply shake the jar to mix all the ingredients together.

My favourite is to mix equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar, with a small dollop of Dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. Shake this up briskly. Taste – you can adjust from here.

But you could try any combination: balsamic vinegar and olive oil, red wine vinegar and olive oil, lemon juice and mustard – whatever you like.

Store this in the fridge for about a week or so. You can simply drizzle this over some really simple lettuce leaves or other greens as a side salad, or go all out and build a delicious salad to go with it.

#16 – Re-organise your tea-towels

Unless you are already super organised when you put your clean tea-towels away – you’ll likely be just re-using the same half a dozen from the top of the pile.

So take 15 minutes to fold these neatly, and to put the older ones on the bottom of the pile, so that you cycle through them.

They will last longer, and there is a lovely feeling pulling out a nicely folded tea-towel to help you with dinner (popping this over your shoulder is optional, but highly recommended).

#15 – Declutter your Utensil Bin

Do you keep your utensils in a bin on your bench? You should!

This saves rummaging through a drawer to find what you need, and they are super handy when in the middle of cooking.

But how often do you clean this out?

Me: rarely.

So take 15 minutes and declutter this bin. Do you really need 3 egg flips? Is there a spatula hidden in the bottom that you never actually use? Get rid of them.

Give the outside a quick wipe down and you’re done.

#14 – Refill your Salt and Pepper

Do a quick check – are they nearly empty? Fill them up.

If they aren’t, check that you have supplies to refill them. If not – add these to your shopping list and pick some up for your pantry.

#13 – Clean Your Sink

I have mentioned this a few times already – but I am a huge fan of having a clean sink. It just makes starting dinner easier and the kitchen just seems cleaner as soon as I clean my sink.

I think this is definitely a lesson from my Mum – who was a fastidious sink cleaner – but it is one that I readily adhere to.

To clean your sink – it can be as simple as just giving it a scrub with your scourer and dish washing liquid. Rinse it really well. And then – and do not forget this crucial step – dry the sink. This is important, as you don’t want those water spots to appear all over the nice clean surface.

And once you’re done – pop out some new linens: tea towels, hand towels, dish cloths.

So welcoming!

#12 – Wash, Prep and Store Greens

I have tried a few ways to do this – and I think it completely relies on what sort of fridge you have.

The method that works best for me is to wash and dry my greens, and then pop a damp tea towel and the greens into a snaplock bag. I then store this in the crisper section of the fridge.

Some people store them in a container with damp paper towel. Or they stand them upright in a glass of water in the fridge.

Give it all a go – and see what works for you.

#11 – Stocktake your wraps

We all have one of these drawers – or you may have a cupboard. I’m talking about the location that holds all the cling wrap, foil, snaplock bags.

Take a few minutes to just check your supply. Are you out of anything? Is anything about to end?

If so – add it to your shopping list.

Tidy the drawer (or cupboard) and you’re done.

#10 – Stocktake your spices

Spices do have an expiry date. And if you don’t use them enough – you’ll likely find quite a few out of day spices lurking in your cupboards.

Take 15 minutes to take them all out of the cupboard. Check the use by date.

Only add back into the cupboard the items that are not yet expired, but that are also items that you will use.

#9 – Refill your baking goods

Check your baking supplies – are you nearly out of flour?

Top the containers up.

If you’re short on any ingredients – add to your shopping list.

Give the shelf a good wipe out and reorder your goods so that like items are together: i.e. all the flour is together, the sugars are together, etc.

This will save you time when looking for something in the cupboard.

#8 – Wipe down the fridge

Sticky fingers, grot and grime will be on your fridge. Even if those sticky fingers are adult size.

Take a wet, soapy dishcloth and just spend 15 minutes wiping down the outside and the door seals.

You’ll find that this is a quick and easy task – but it does make a difference to how you feel in your kitchen.

#7 – Pop Dishwasher on Clean Cycle

Cleaning a dishwasher should really happen about every fortnight or so.

There’s no need to buy those expensive dishwasher cleaners though.

With an empty dishwasher, you can easily clean it with vinegar. I simply fill a small bowl filled with vinegar and then pop this on the top rack of the dishwasher. The dishwasher then goes on to the “Pots” setting (or the highest setting) – and it comes out very clean.

#6 – Prep Grains

I will always have some sort of cooked grain in the fridge or freezer. Through the week, it is generally quinoa or pasta (for easy tossing into a salad) – but I also keep brown rice in small single sized portions in my freezer.

The brown rice is great for making fried rice.

At the end of the week, I sometimes have a bunch of odd vegies left in my crisper. I chop these into small pieces and stir fry them. Add the brown rice with a good lug of tamari or soy sauce. This is a yummy and quick family meal. And again – no waste!

#5 – Make Croutons / Breadcrumbs

Stale bread?

Slice it up, drizzle a little olive oil over it – add a few dried herbs like oregano – and then pop into a moderate oven for 10 minutes or so.

This will make yummy little croutons for you to use with soups or salads.

Or – blitz it up in the food processor, and you have breadcrumbs.

#4 – Make Ice

This is something I am dreadful at doing. I even have a little ice tray built into my freezer – but I just never remember to empty and fill it.

But – if I followed my own advice, I’d take 15 minutes and fill my tray (and first empty it). In summer especially, it’s nice to have a little backlog of ice to pop in your drinks.

#3 – Make Olive Oil Herb Cubes

This is such a good tip. How often do you buy lovely fresh herbs, only to find them a brown sludgy mess in the bottom of your fridge a week later?

Instead – try this: chop the herbs, and pop into ice cube trays. Then top each one up with olive oil. Freeze.

Then next time you need some herbs in your meal – just pop one or two of these little beauties into your dish. The oil will melt, and you’ll be left with delicious herbs to flavour your meal.

#2 – Browse a Cookbook – choosing 1 meal to add to your dinner plan next week

Now this could be a time-sucker, so be conscious of your 15 minutes.

Grab a cookbook and have a browse. But do it intentionally. That is with purpose: browse the cookbook with the intention of choosing one family meal that you can add to your meal plan next week. Don’t try anything super fancy – but do try something different. And if it fails and no one eats it – there’s always baked beans on toast (been there, done that).

#1 – Start Dinner

And it is that simple. Just start dinner.

Even if it is ten o’clock in the morning – you can always chop some vegies, get some pots out of the cupboard, set the table, slice some bread.

Whatever you can do now in order to make that dinner hour easier – do it. While you have those 15 minutes.

Were these ideas helpful?

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