Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Easy Cooking Ideas

Spending my time standing over a hot stove is not my idea of fun. I'm always looking for ways to minimize my time in the kitchen, so when I read about the concept of cooking ahead, or freezer cooking, or baking days, (you get the idea) that sounded like something that would work for me. Cook a lot on a given day and freeze for later. Fantastic!

One simple thing I've started doing is, on the days we have pancakes, cook up the extra pancake batter and freeze the pancakes for another morning. Sometimes I double my recipe just to put extra in the freezer.

The same works with waffles. They freeze wonderfully and all you have to do is pop them in the microwave for a quick breakfast! And, since they're homemade with whole-wheat flour, it's relatively healthy! Much healthier than the frozen or boxed mixes.

Another great time saver is to buy meat in bulk, cook it up at one time, and divide it into portion sizes conducive to your recipes. It's even better when you can get meat reduced for quick sale at your local supermarket. Kroger is great about marking down their meat for quick sale.

Just last week I put two packs of chicken into the crock pot, added some seasonings, and cooked it on low all day. That evening I chunked up the chicken, divided it into several two cup portions, and stuck it in sandwich bags to freeze. Today I used the chicken broth to make homemade cream of chicken soup! How easy is that? It took me about ten minutes to get the chicken from the crock pot to the freezer and about fifteen minutes to make three cups of soup (about two can's worth)!

I also love to make up a batch of muffins to freeze for a quick breakfast or snack. One of our favorite is Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. Yum! Kroger usually has ripe bananas marked down to 29 cents a pound, so that makes for an inexpensive ingredient!

I recently found a recipe for Freezer Mashed Potatoes that looked delicious. Since I had some potatoes that needed to be used, I peeled and quartered the potatoes and threw them in the crock pot this afternoon. That took me less than ten minutes! Tonight, when the potatoes are through cooking and I finish the recipe, I'll have two 8x8 pans of potatoes ready for the freezer!

My plans are to have a major baking day (or two) before the baby gets here. That way, my freezer will be nice and full of meals or parts of meals so I can spend less time in kitchen and more time with my family! And since I'll have four littles five and under come January, I'm guessing I'll need all the time-saving help I can get!

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