While meal planning or, if you haven’t planned ahead, while cooking, try to double up on side dishes, veggies, or even main proteins so that you can cook them once and serve them twice.
For example, when making steak tacos with rice and beans one night, cook a double portion of everything. Then you can have grilled chicken with a side of rice and broccoli one night, an Asian steak salad another, and bean and avocado tostadas on a third. On all three subsequent nights, you go into the kitchen with an idea of where to start, and your cooking time is greatly reduced since once element is already made. And, hey, that's four meals already planned—just like that.
Though I admit that doing this masterfully is an advanced kitchen skill, just having the thought in your head can help, especially with sides like rice or quinoa and simple proteins like roasted chicken or pork loin.
Meal planning reduces stress and cuts down on time spent in the kitchen because you enter it armed with a clear idea of what you need to do.
While it's true that just keeping these principles in mind doesn’t do this with the same efficiency, it certainly helps provide clarity and, for the non-planners among us, sometimes that’s enough.