Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quick and Easy Tips

For my last week posting quick and easy recipes I thought I'd share my favorite tips for those nights when you just need to get some dinner on the table. The idea here is that a little prep goes a long way.

The first tip I learned from my mother in-law. The tip is to buy your meat in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club. You get good quality meat for a good price. For instance, you buy the huge packets of ground beef (or ground turkey if you prefer). When you get it home, instead of breaking it into small chunks and freezing it to thaw and cook later, just cook it all up in a big pot.
I usually add a chopped onion (or dry onion flakes if I'm feeling lazy) and brown the meat. Once the meat is cooked, you separate it into ziplock bags and put them in your freezer.
This saves you quite a bit of time when all you have to do is toss the bag of cooked meat in the microwave to warm up. I don't know about you, but it seems like it takes forever for a chunk of meat to thaw so I can brown it! I will also freeze rotisserie chicken in small bags. This puts you a step ahead for many meal options...tacos, spaghetti, enchiladas, etc.

The second tip is my favorite quick treat tip. When I make cookies, I always double the recipe. I cook the amount I want and then I take the rest of the dough and make it into balls and place them close together on a cookie sheet. I then place the cookie sheet in the freezer for several hours or until the cookie balls are frozen. At this point I remove the cookie balls from the sheet and put them all into a ziplock bag. Freezing them on the cookie sheet first makes sure they are individually frozen so they don't stick together in the bag. I almost always have a bag of cookie balls in my freezer to pull out and bake whenever we need or want a quick treat. Just set the amount of cookies you want to cook out on the cookie sheet while the oven pre-heats. This gives them a chance to thaw a little.
Then cook the cookies per the instructions in your recipe. You have hot, fresh cookies and all you had to do was turn on the oven! Oh yeah, and did I mention that frozen cookie dough balls make a good treat, too???

What are your favorite tips for speeding up the dinner making process?


Deanna said...

I'm totally with you on this. My freezer is one of my best friends and I love to fill it with cooked hamburger, cookie dough, chopped onion and celery, and frozen meals that I made double of when I cook. It all saves so much time later!!

Scott, Heidi and clan said...

kristy, great ideas! i love time saving tips like this, thanks.