Shortcut Cooking: 10 Tips to Save Time and Money Preparing Meals

Sunday , 6, April 2014 Leave a comment













There are never enough hours in the day for busy Moms! That”s why I want to share some “shortcut cooking” ideas that just might help you find a few extra moments!

When my children were young, a friend and I enjoyed spending an occasional afternoon together, without kids, cooking enough meals for a month of dinners. We shared the shopping chores, split the cost, and after about 5 hours, we each had two weeks of multiple delicious meals ready to freeze and bake! I preferred to split the month with someone else, since a month”s worth of food is a lot. After learning how productive the process was, I taught several classes on Once-A-Month-Cooking at Evening at Emory.

If you”re not ready to jump into a MAJOR quantity cooking project, here are some easy ideas to implement. I hope they will whet your appetite for trying more time-saving food preparation ideas!

1. Cook in quantity. 

When you cook a pound of chicken or hamburger for a recipe, cook several pounds! Freeze your extra portions, or use them throughout the week. It doesn”t take much longer to cook a larger quantity, and you won”t have to repeat the effort on multiple days. Don”t cook one meals” worth of vegetables. Cook extra to serve again or repurpose. Sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms can go in stir fry recipes, on pizzas, in omelets, and on burgers.

2. Find multiple recipes you like which feature the same main ingredients. Keep ingredients on hand for various simple recipes, to enable you to quickly throw together meals!  

For example: Hamburger Stroganoff, Sloppy Joes, Spaghetti, and Cheeseburger Pie all feature crumbled, cooked ground beef. Cook 5 pounds of hamburger meat, divide into 5 equal portions and freeze. When you are ready to put your recipe together, the meat is cooked and ready, so you will save time. If you season your ground meat with taco seasoning, you can add ingredients to quickly throw together Chili, Taco Soup, Burritos, Taco Salad, Mexican Casserole, etc.

In the same way, you can cook a whole chicken, cook several pounds of chicken parts, or cut up a deli chicken to have chicken on hand for Chicken Chili, Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Soup, Chicken Salad, Chicken Tacos, or your chicken recipes of choice.

3. Cook/assemble tomorrow”s meal the night before. 

While you are in the kitchen preparing supper and cleaning up, use the time to also assemble ingredients for a crockpot meal, or to do some of the prep work for the following day. Cutting up and sauteeing vegetables, opening cans, preparing a casserole or filling the crockpot, while you are already in the kitchen, will save time the following day.

4. Plan to shop and cook to take best advantage of sales and your time. 

Buy meats, vegetables, spaghetti sauce, etc. when they are on sale, and take time to plan menus around them. When you cook a pot roast, plan to serve it again as sandwiches and Shepherd”s Pie. When you make lasagna or other pasta, make two so you can freeze one. It doesn”t take much more time to make multiple servings, and it will save you time in the long run.

5. Don”t forget desserts! Always have ingredients on hand for a quick dessert. A decadent “treat” can turn an ordinary day into a special day, and a gathering into a party!

My “go to” dessert recipe is Magic Cookie Bars. I always have the ingredients for them on hand. They”re easy to throw together best online casino and perfect for any occasion when a dessert is needed! I made them often over the years when my children had friends over. Kids LOVE it when you bake for them. It doesn”t have to be fancy! Anything “homemade,” even store bought slice and bake cookies, translates as “Lovin” from the Oven!”

6. Let everyone “make their own.” 

Save time by putting out multiple ingredients and letting people create their own meals. This works with salad bars, baked potato and taco bars, shish kabobs, make your own pizzas, yogurt parfaits, fruit toppings for cereal, ice cream sundaes, etc. Save time by buying some of the ingredients, instead of preparing everything from scratch.

7. Split BOGO”s with Family and Friends.

My sister and I used to go through the grocery store sale ads, make a list of the “buy-one-get-one” free items we wanted, then split the items and the cost! We took turns going to the store for the deals. If you can find someone to go to the store for you occasionally, that can save a nice chunk of time!

8. Make your own baking and seasoning mixes. 

There are recipes online for most every spice mix, baking mix, and seasoning mix. Make your own hot chocolate mix and brownie mix. It”s fun and you can make great gifts, too!

9. Prepare food from scratch as much as possible. 

Buy blocks of cheese and grate your own! Tear up your own lettuce. Freshly prepared tastes better and you”ll save money.

10. Give yourself permission to take shortcuts as needed!

Sometimes, it is worth the extra money to pay for convenience. Buy the bagged salad. Serve “store bought” cookies. If shortcuts save time and reduce stress, “Go for it!”

For those of you who are Pinterest fans, I am including links to a couple of my Pinterest Boards that include Food Mixes, Food Gifts, and Quantity Cooking Ideas.

Please comment if you might be interested in a Coweta Fayette Families workshop on Shortcut or quantity cooking! We”d love to hear your tips, too! 


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