Save Time in the Kitchen.
In an ideal world, we plan menus, shop for ingredients in advance (using coupons, of course), and whip up a meal with classical music playing softly.
But what about those other times – when life feels chaotic and overwhelming?
Instead of rushing to the grocery store, flinging regular-priced items into your cart, I propose another option — a “Pantry Pull-Out” for easy entrees.
First, let me share a few kitchen tricks that allow me to always be ready to do a Pantry Pull-Out.
Time Saving Ideas
Stock up on ground beef when it is on sale. I used to freeze it uncooked, but then it took a long time to thaw and fry up, and I don’t always remember to pull it out well enough in advance. Solution? Fry it up with a bit of salt, pepper and onion right away, and then stash it in the freezer.
After it cools, divide the ground beef into freezer containers/bags in about one pound amounts. When it’s time to cook, it just needs a quick thaw and you’re ready to go.
Watch for sales on chicken to save at least 50% on boneless, skinless chicken breasts and stock up. Cut chicken into small strips, or chunks, depending on your preference. Of course, you can leave them whole, too. You can freeze pieces uncooked (allowing for a quicker thaw) or cook, cool and freeze, just like you would with ground beef.
Buy large blocks of cheese on sale and grate it right away. To prevent clumping, add a smidge of flour into the container, give it a shake, and freeze. It tastes as good as fresh and scoops out easily because of the flour.
Back to the dinner drama…
It’s because I always have ground beef and chicken cooked and ready to go, plus cheese that I can portion out as needed, that the next steps are quick and easy.
Choose a few items from your kitchen and go to BigOven.com (or use their app) or another favourite recipe site.
- Enter a protein you have on hand (ground beef, chicken, tuna, etc.).
- Enter a carbohydrate (rice, pasta, potatoes).
- Find a recipe that uses these ingredients, plus a vegetable (fresh, frozen or canned) or other pantry item you have on hand. The combinations are endless.
Here are a few options I am going to try from BigOven.com:
This is not an alternative to regular menu planning, but it is a good option to use in a pinch. Your family will enjoy a delicious meal, and you will use up a few pantry items. You will also avoid a last-minute grocery run – which is priceless!
Perhaps this should become a regular event after all.