8 Kitchen Shortcuts
Make-ahead tips and tricks to shave minutes off your meal time
TRIPLE THE TREATS
When preparing homemade cookies, double or triple the recipe and freeze the extra batches of dough (for up to 3 months) to have ready when you want to bake again.
STIR, SERVE AND STORE
Mix dips and salad dressings in lidded containers. Then take off the tops and serve them. That way, if there is any left over, you can pop the lids back on and put right in the refrigerator.
NEW LIFE FOR LEFTOVERS
Soups, salads and omelets are just some of the dishes that make great use of leftovers. Keep their basic ingredients (eggs, salad greens, canned beans) stocked in the refrigerator or pantry, so you can reinvent the previous night’s meal with minimal effort.
SMOOTHIES IN A SNAP
Find yourself with too much fruit? Cut it up—you can leave small fruits such as raspberries or blueberries whole—and freeze (frozen berries will keep for up to 1 year). Anytime you want a smoothie, just dump the frozen fruit in a blender (no need to thaw), add milk or yogurt if you like, and press the button for an instant breakfast boost.
When making meat loaf, lasagna or other easily freezable meals, always buy enough ingredients to cook two. It takes almost no time to prepare an extra dish if you work assembly-line style. Freeze the second one (for up to 3 months) for homemade TV dinners.
Pour granola or any other favorite cereal into small, single-serving-size plastic containers (will last up to 3 months). They’re convenient for kids to grab and eat dry as an after-school snack. Or you can add milk and shave a little time off the morning rush.
Make healthy snacks as convenient as junk food. Cut up carrots, celery and other fruits and vegetables and store in small plastic containers (up to 2 days). When kids or grown-ups want to nosh, good options are already bite size and ready to go. You can also use the precut veggies to punch up a bag salad.
When making meals ahead, divide into recommended portion sizes before freezing. Not only does it keep you from wasting food when you only defrost what you think you’ll need, but it also helps you manage what you eat.
Defrost frozen food right in the container you store it in. The safest method is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost gradually.