Never to be a gourmet chef, I consider myself more of a “home cook”. There’s always something to eat, hopefully it’s tasty and filling!
I’m not sure cooking is a fast thing to do, but I have found ways that with a little planning I can speed up cooking for busy nights. Whether you’re trying to manage a family meal during those precious few hours after work and before bedtime or a farm wife planning meals around harvest – I hope these tips might help you.
These are 10 of my tips for quick cooking, in no particular order, except maybe #10.
- Brown hamburger, let it cool, and freeze for a quick meal that requires ground meat such as spaghetti or tacos. I freeze it in quart size zip lock freezer bags. Freeze the bags flat then they stack nicely in the freezer.
- I make a Bierock Bake which is a casserole version of bierocks, cabbage pockets, runzas, whatever your local name is for this yummy creation. When I make this casserole, I’ll make up a half dozen packages of the meat and vegetable mixture and freeze them in quart size freezer bags (I freeze the mixture similar to how I freeze the hamburger in Tip #1). Then when I need a quick meal, I’ll defrost the meat mixture, add the top layers, and bake. Look under the “My Kitchen” tab for the Bierock Bake recipe.
- When making mashed potatoes, I make a double batch. We’ll eat regular mashed potatoes and gravy the first night. Later in the week, I will heat up the leftover in the microwave until warm and the potatoes stir easily. Then I’ll add cheese, chives, celery seed seasoning, salt & pepper, butter, anything that sounds good, and mix it into the plain mashed potatoes. Pour the potato mixture into a dish and bake in the oven until hot and slightly toasted on top.
- Keep small loaves of quick breads in the freezer. My favorites are banana nut bread or pumpkin bread. Both freeze beautifully. We have a lot of people who stop by and it’s nice to have something quick to serve. I have a defrosting pan that will defrost the loaf in minutes. I also take quick bread to the field to serve the harvest crew as a snack or quick dessert.
- When I make cookies, I like to freeze half to have on hand for a quick dessert. I freeze them in an ice cream bucket.
- Rather than making a 9”x13” casserole, sometimes I will put the casserole in two 8”x8” dishes, and freeze one casserole. Because two 8”x8” casseroles are a little bigger than a 9”x13”, I do increase the fillings. For example, if the 9”x13” casserole recipe calls for 1 pound of ground meat, I would use 1 ½ pounds, I would also increase any vegetables. My favorite casseroles to do this with are taco lasagna and regular lasagna.
- Most of my soup recipes make a big batch. Rather than eating it for days and days, I will package a meal or two worth and freeze for a future meal.
- When I need to shred meat, I use my KitchenAid mixer. I can’t remember where I found this tip a few years ago, but it’s amazing how much quicker meat can be shredded using my KitchenAid mixer.
- An entire ham is too much for us to eat. With leftover ham, I slice as much as I can, and the slices go into freezer bags to make sandwiches in the future. Then with the odd bits and chunks left of ham that are left, I cube. The ham cubes go in another freezer bag to be used in casseroles.
- Although I usually cook somewhat from scratch, prior to our busy seasons (spring planting and fall harvest), I’ll stock up on some convenience items to have in the freezer. Our favorites are shrimp scampi for my hubby, individual servings of steamable edamame, and just recently I found 1-1 ½ pound marinated pork tenderloins that are delicious and quick.
After reading back through this, I’m realizing that I have a complete dependence on my freezer. There’s definitely a theme going on there.
I’d love to hear your tips too. What do you do to speed up cooking in your home?