Las Vegas, Nevada - Five to ten minutes may not seem like much, but when cooking a weeknight meal, almost half of Consumer Reports subscribers said they wished they could get those minutes back. The average difference between actual time spent and what respondents desired: eight minutes.

With that goal in mind, Consumer Reports experts set out to create the ultimate time-saving kitchen feature with top time-saving countertop appliances and expert tips from chefs, designers, organizer and others. 

Five Tips to Save Eight Minutes or More in the Kitchen

  1. Design for efficiency. The work triangle – connecting the sink, fridge, and cooktop – is still the baseline for maximum efficiency. But in two-cook kitchens, it often makes sense to have a second triangle, possibly designated around an island counter with a prep sink.

  2. Think ahead. One of the top cooking gripes in Consumer Reports’ survey was that it takes too much time to plan. A slow cooker is handy for make-ahead meals. The $250 All-Clad 99005 slow cooker turned out tasty spareribs in tests, and its nonstick interior helps with cleanup.

  3. Minimize maintenance. Some materials and finishes are harder to care for than others. Stainless-steel appliances remain popular, but if fingerprints are a concern, a newer, smudge-resistant finish such as GE’s Slate may be a consideration. As for flooring, vinyl held up best in Consumer Reports tests against scratches and dents.

  4. Contain the clutter. In the kitchen, try to put things close at hand. For example, dishes and flatware should be kept in a cabinet next to the dishwasher; cutting boards and sharp knives belong near food-prep counter. Creating a separate landing spot, ideally just off the kitchen or along its perimeter, for mail, school papers and the like will help keep counters clear.

  5. Make it a family affair. Look for ways to enlist other members of the household. If kids are present, designate a lower cabinet for everyday dishes or flatware, allowing young ones to help set the table.

As part of its time-saving kitchen feature, Consumer Reports surveyed 3,435 Consumer Reports subscribers about their experiences cooking weeknight meals. The full report on time-saving kitchen tips also includes top-rated steam ovens and ranges, seven steps for quick kitchen cleanups and frozen dinner ratings and is featured in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.