6 tips to get dinner on the table faster

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woman cooking dinner

We've done stories on 30-minute main dishes and other quick-to-the-table meals. But when you've got a hungry crowd on your hands, sometimes even 30 minutes seems like a long time. So we're upping the ante with a selection of tasty and filling dinners you can make in 10 minutes. (Really!)

Sure, 10-minute meals require a little organization and speed in the kitchen. If you're a little doubtful that you can chop, dice and saute quickly enough, we've got a few time-saving cooking tips (and our super-fast recipes) to help you get dinner on the table in no time.

Time it right
Before you start cooking a recipe (especially one you've never tried), read all of the steps from beginning to end and prepare the longest-cooking items first. For example, if you're making spaghetti, put a pot of water on to boil right away so you can get the pasta cooking while you prep other items.

Prep What You Can
Professional chefs get food out fast because they have a mise-en-place (which means “everything in place”) of pre-prepped ingredients right at their fingertips. While most of us don’t have time to pre-chop all our vegetables before we start a recipe, it’s handy to get a few things out of the way before you start cooking, like mince a clove of garlic or measure a cup of flour. And of course, anything you can prep during the weekend (think: chopped vegetables, cooked rice, etc.) will always
help you on those busy weeknights.

Keep Go-To Ingredients Within Reach

Placing frequently-used ingredients (olive oil, salt, pepper, favorite spices) near where you cook can also save yourself a few steps in the kitchen.

Think Ahead and Defrost

Before you leave for work in the morning, place frozen foods (like chicken breasts, ground beef, vegetables) in your refrigerator to defrost. They’ll be ready to cook by the time you get home.

Boil Water Faster

Pasta is one of the fastest options for dinner—until you can get the water to boil, that is. Turbocharge your pasta-making routine with these simple steps: fill your stockpot with already-hot water from the tap, place the pot on the stove on high heat and cover the pot with a lid. Last but not least, do not add salt until the water has already started boiling. Scientists say that salt raises water's boiling point, which means that it will take longer to reach a boil. Salt also dissolves faster in hot water.

Look for Ready-to-Eat Products

Pre-packaged foods like washed, bagged salad greens and pre-cooked proteins such as canned tuna, shrimp or rotisserie chicken are major time-savers. These items may cost a bit more, but if you’re more concerned with time, it may be money well-spent.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.