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I’ve heard from a few friends that they struggle to plan dinner so that everything is ready at the same time.  Today, I’m going to offer some tips to help with that.

The other night, we had blackened fish, green bean casserole and dirty rice for dinner.  Each dish has different prep and cooking times. So, I will use this meal as an example.

The following is the prep and cook times for each dish:

fish– prep 10″, cook 5″

dirty rice– prep 10″, cook 25″, and another 5″ to sit and fluff

green bean casserole– prep about 7 or so minutes, cook 30″

The casserole and dirty rice take about the same amount of time and take the longest amount of time.  So, that ‘s where we should start.  Preheat the oven so it will be ready when your dish is ready to bake.


First, I put on the water to boil for the dirty rice.  Dirty rice also calls for lightly browned ground meat.  So, I started browning the meat right after I put the water on to boil.

Next, I let the meat sit for a minute while I opened and drained the cans of green beans and mixed together all of the ingredients for the green bean casserole.  I would occasionally check the meat and stir it around.

Once the meat was done, and  the water had come to a boil, I emptied the contents of the Zatarain’s dirty rice and the ground meat into the pot of boiling water.

Once that was cooking, I put the green bean casserole into a baking dish, and put it in the oven.  Both of those dishes were going to take 30″.

From prep to cook time the fish will only take 15 minutes.  So, I waited until the other dishes only had 15 minutes left before I started on the fish.


I like to take advantage of down time.  So, this would be a good time to fix a salad if you are including that on your menu.  Or, you can load the dishwasher with the dishes you’ve dirtied so far.  Cleaning as you go makes cleaning after dinner a little easier.

When it’s time, prepare and cook the last dish.  It’s okay if casseroles finish cooking a few minutes before the rest.  It gives them a chance to sit and settle a little bit before serving.  Just be sure to leave them covered so that it’s still warm when you fix your plate.

To sum it up:

1)Start the dishes that will take the longest first.

2) Then wait to cook the quickest dish until the equal amount of time is left on the longer cooking dishes. ie. fish takes 15 minutes to prep and cook, wait til there’s only 15 minutes left on the dishes that are already cooking.

Hopefully, this example will help you time your next meal.  If you have any questions or if you have your own tips to share, feel free to contact me.

Until next time,


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