Post # 1
In the “good wife” thread a lot of us talk about cooking cheats such as cook once, use twice etc.
So in more detail what do you do to save you time or money in the kitchen?
My freezer is my best friend! This past weekend there was a great sale for 5 bell peppers for $1!!!! So I bought ten. I sliced 5 of them and sauteed them and then froze them in baggies to be used quickly when I want them. I do that a lot with sale veggies.
I like to use my cuisinart for shredding cabbage, radish, carrots, onion etc so its an instant slaw/salad mix. I keep it in a tupperware with a paper towel and it stays all week! Just add toppings and dressings to change the flavor.
I freeze lots of things in ice cube trays. When I poach chicken I freeze the chicken flavored water in ice cubes for my puppy. She loves the calorie free treats and it saves us money on treats! Same thing with pumpkin for her when her stomach is upset.
oohhhh so many more fun kitchen tricks.
What do you do?
Post # 3
Seconding the ice cube trays for everything! Whenever I have leftover tomato paste, or something similar, I freeze it with about 1tbsp per cube.
I try to combine veggie chopping. So if I need 1/2 an onion for Monday’s dinner, and 1/2 an onion for Wednesday’s, I’ll chop the whole thing at the same time and put half in a tupperware. I wash and prepare snack veggies/fruits right when we get home from the grocery store. We end up eating far more grapes if they are already washed and plucked, more pineapple if it’s already cut up, etc.
I know it doesn’t taste as good as fresh, but jarred garlic is a lifesaver on busy nights.
Post # 4
@lefeymw: I loved your post on the other thread as well as this one. I want to take cooking/preserving classes from you! I really enjoy cooking, but still have so far to go in having it be 2nd nature. I also really want to do a better job about freezing things. I look forward to the responses on this thread!
Post # 5
@Leprechaun: So true, its way easier to eat healthy if its available and ready to go. Darling Husband will eat lbs of fruit salad, but no way would he peel his own orange
Post # 6
I am copying this thread and the other one and making myself a cheat sheet!! lol Such great ideas! I don’t know it this counts, but I didn’t have canned stewed or diced tomatoes the other day, so I used jarred salsa. It actually improved the recipe, so now I’m using it everywhere I add tomatoes (so far, stuffed bell peppers and meatball stew).
Post # 7
@jjmomma: salsa is a great way to add flavor to so many things. Try making lean turkey burgers and mix some salsa and corn in it. Tex-mex burgers that are super healthy!
I like dijon or a whole grain mustard as a cooking ingredient. It has so many spices already in it and adds so much to a dish without extra calories. In marinades, dressings, sauces, mix in etc. Same goes for steak sauces!
Post # 8
Fiance and myself both work full time. I do all of the cooking.
- Homemade chicken salad, I make a batch at the beginning of the week and alter it accordingly. I add shredder cheese, curry powder, chopped nuts, etc. I alter the kind of bread (ciabatta rolls, pita pockets, etc.). I buy the breads when they are on sale; pre-slice them and freeze them for later use; when used I pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for a few minutes before filling them with chicken.
- I freeze veggies that are leftovers and use them in casseroles/soups later on (grilled potatoes, onions, etc.). As well as freeze fruit (great to add to homemade applesauce, put into mini fruit tarts, oatmeal cookies, muffins etc.).
- I crock pot at least once a week. We eat the leftovers for dinner and for lunch at work. If we get sick of leftovers I portion them into some of the glassware and freeze them. Then I put them in the fridge the night before we want to eat them and they defrost. I reheat them in the microwave at home or at work and BAM homemade delicious food for under $2.
- Casseroles. I bake them off then portion them out into the glassware and freeze for later lunch use. Or freeze the whole raw casserole and bake it off at another time.
- We have a small rice cooker: Add a tbsp. of butter to any batch; it helps keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add one crushed boillion cube per cup of rice to make chicken rice. Add madras curry powder to make curried rice (you can add chopped nuts, shredded carrots, rainsins, cranberries, etc.).
- When ground turkey or chicken breasts go on sale I stock up and freeze them.
- I defrost a 20 oz. ground turkey package and portion it out to season it (taco flavored, mini seasoned turkey meatballs, turkey crumbles for spaghetti/lasagna casseroles, plain for cheesy gravy and tatter bowls). I usually get 3-4 varieties of meals out of 20 oz. of turkey.
- Chicken breasts I defrost and make shredded chicken for enchiladas,tacos, etc. Or marinate it in yogurt and curry spices to make Indian/Thai curry, pound it out and bread it to make chicken cutlets, seasoned breading to make chicken fingers, saute it with italian seasonings and motzerela to make motz. chicken with tatters and veggies on the side.
- I enjoy homemade crispy garlic tofu with rice (use a small rice cooker we have). Add whatever veggies I have in the house.
- Homemade chow mein: use raman noodles; boil in water and set aside. Put some sesame oil and chili oil into a saute pan and heat up. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, pepper flakes, etc. Whatever veggies you want; saute till al dente then add cooked noodles. Stir fry till coated evenly and serve over some rice. (can add chicken or tofu to this too)
- Bulk sections at grocery stores. Super cheap beans, rice, pasta, spices, etc. Super easy and cheap to make bean soup with items from the bulk food section. Add whatever broth/stock you have, frozen or fresh veggies, leftover meats and make a great meal out of it. This also freezes very well. Poor cooled leftover soup into quart size freezer bags (leave 1/4 of the bag empty), lay flat in the freezer and let freeze solid. Then whenever you want soup just put frozen doup chunk into a pot to heat up or in a bowl and microwave.
- I use wonton/gyoza wrappers from the grocery store all the time. I take leftovers and add them to various starches to make filling. Then I fill a pan with an inch or two of oil and fill, fold, crimp and fry the dumplings.
-Refried beans, cheese, meat, taco seasoning.
-mashed potatoes, cheese, meat, (dip in gravy)
-fried garlic tofu, rice, veggies.
-potatoes, cheese, garlic (fast version of pirogies)
-leftover mac & cheese or tatters with turkey crumbles
-endless filling options
- Make cookie dough, roll it into a log and wrapped in plastic, put it in the fridge, cut off slices and back through out the week for fresh cookies. Or put the log in the freezer and cut off slices and bake. Or use milk instead of eggs as a binder; roll log, and freeze it…then cut off chunks and eat the cookie dough raw; delicious!
I shop at local asian and Indian markets too. They have a great selection of spices, rice, curry packets, oils, etc. for 75% cheaper than any other grocery store in the area. As well as specialty items that aren’t found at “normal” grocery stores.
Post # 9
I crockpot often. I tend to like to make soups and then use quart bags to freeze any leftovers for another dinner/lunch. Lasanga is good in the crockpot too 🙂
We use the steamfresh frozen rice packs too. They’re two servings and nice to have around for a quick side. In general, i keep a few bags of frozen veggies around like broccoli, whole leaf spinach, peppers and onion mix, etc. I use whatever I have around with like 6 eggs and bake the mix in the oven in an 8×8 pan. Then, I slice it into squares to pop in an english muffin for breakfast throughout the week :).
Sometimes i cook a bigger package of ground turkey or beef and use some for whatever recipe I’m doing that night, and then cook off the rest in crumbles and freeze. It helps especially for things that need ground meat that go in the crockpot. Usually you have to cook the ground meat first before adding to the crockpot, so it’s nice to have some handy.
Also, I bought this freezer meals cookbook once on a reccomendation and I make a few things out of there that can make a couple batches. My fav is making chicken pot pie mix and freezing it. Dethaw and put in a pie crust from the store mmm.